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I just got an e-mail from Scottish journalist David Pratt, asking me to please let people know about the insidious effects of heroin on Afghanistan -- and on Scotland. Of course I will. The two articles that Pratt wrote on this subject offer huge new insights into why the Bush-Obama "war" in Afghanistan is still going on after nine long bloody years of both physical pain and financial disaster for both Afghanistan and the United States (not to mention Scotland).

I first met Pratt when we were both embedded in the Green Zone in Iraq in 2007, and it was love at first sight -- I immediately fell in love with his writing style, his knowledge and his willingness to go WAY out on a limb in order to get an accurate story. He has spent the last 30 years as a war correspondent for Glasgow's Sunday Herald, and his book "Intifada: The Long Day of Rage" is the ultimate eye-witness report on "The Troubles" in Palestine.

Pratt is a fabulous reporter and if he says that poppy cultivation and heroin sales are not only financing the Taliban's weapon supply in Afghanistan right now but also has become its current favorite way of screwing up the U.S. occupation by destabilizing the government in Kabul, then I know that information is spot-on.

According to Pratt, one American drug-control adviser in Kabul stated categorically that,

Once the Taliban realized that narcotic control was a major goal of the international coalition and Afghan government, they OK’d it to the farmers to grow poppy because they know it destabilizes the government. That’s also the reason why we’re seeing even more opium and heroin production.

These are the kind of insightful articles that make other journalists (including myself) drool with envy. I wish that I could have written that!

According to another Pratt source, Dr. Zemoray Amin of Doctors of the World,

cheapness and easy availability of drugs, joblessness, displacement and, above all, the effects of the war are the main reasons for heroin’s escalating impact in Afghanistan. But ...there is another, even more worrying root cause. It stems from the widespread corruption among those within the top tier of the Afghan establishment, and complicity by the international community in ignoring that crookedness in exchange for political allegiance and strategical leverage in the fight against the Taliban.

Gen. Petraeus might be better off spending his time fighting poppy growing rather than fighting small-time villagers who are caught between a rock and a hard place regarding the Taliban.

Here's the rest of Pratt's article, entitled "Trail of Destruction":

Next, Pratt takes on the other end of the poppy chain -- heroin in Scotland. Entitled "Made in Kabul -- shot up in Glasgow," This report is also grim. Drug addicts are now dying in Scotland in large numbers, thanks to Scottish soldiers who die in Afghanistan so that the drug trade there can continue to grow and prosper.

Here's a quote:

Jawad was left for dead in a ditch. Stephen was found overdosed in a doorway. Though more than 3000 miles separate Kabul’s Karte Seh district and Glasgow’s Gorbals, the lives of these two men are inextricably linked by one thing: heroin. In the space of little over a month on opposite sides of the world, I listened to both tell of a hellish journey each had taken while trapped in the grip of a powerful and terrifying addiction.

Jawad is no stranger to pain – in Kabul’s drug institutions, the methods used to detox heroin addicts come from the Middle Ages. Head shaved and stripped naked, on numerous occasions he has been locked in a cell and hosed down with freezing water. But it was the night when some policemen started beating Jawad that the agony became so great he found himself begging them to stop.

Read the rest of this article at

If I don't have the talent, insights, opportunity and/or knowledge to write important articles like these two, at least I'm glad to know that someone like Pratt is out there writing them for us -- and it my pleasure to pass them on even though it makes me sad to know that the information they contain is verifiablely true.

Originally posted to Jane Stillwater on Wed Aug 25, 2010 at 05:29 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Both sides . . . (6+ / 0-)

    The Talaban runs drugs to buy guns, "our" guys run drugs to fund CIA ops (and allies) and to "destabilize" Iran and Russia.  The US has been complicit in the Afghan Heroin trade since we started using it to support the opposition to the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, way back when.  The alliances may shift a bit, the lure of drug money (and Heroin as a "weapon" against "adversaries") doesn't . . .

    Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

    by Deward Hastings on Wed Aug 25, 2010 at 05:42:11 PM PDT

    •  Lots of Senator's pappies... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ... And British lords grandads made their fortunes from Heroin. See Opium Wars.

      the intelligence community is no longer geared towards telling the president what they think the president wants to hear

      by Salo on Wed Aug 25, 2010 at 06:54:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Heroin is a disgusting drug (0+ / 0-)

    The US should carpet bomb the poppy fields until nothing will grow there for a thousand years - then get the fuck out.

    I have seen way too many get hooked on heroin - it's a one way, no u-turn, dead end street.

    The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government. - Thomas Jefferson

    by ctexrep on Wed Aug 25, 2010 at 06:25:19 PM PDT

    •  I've seen plenty of people get hooked on (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Larsstephens, ctexrep

      alcohol to abusive limits, and nicotine, too. They die horrible deaths. My own spouse and daughter are addicted to nicotine.

      When I was a teenager, I had to have surgery, and there was a much older man who had a tracheotomy because he had throat cancer on the same floor as I was on.

      Back then, they let patients and visitors smoke in the visiting area.

      I'll never forget the image of watching this man [surreptitiously, because he was told not to smoke] desperately puff a cigarette though the opening in his throat. He put his finger over the opening and told me 'tell me if the nurse is coming'.

      It was shocking. I still went on to smoke myself for decades, quitting only about a decade ago when my own father got lung cancer and died from it. I watched as he wasted away.

      I also have seen heroin addiction, but never took part in that. It's a dead end street, just like abuse of alcohol and use of nicotine is.

      •  My grandad was prescribed opium in a pipe. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        It got rid of his backpain. It's actually quite good for people with chronic agony. One of natures gifts as long as it isn't abused.

        the intelligence community is no longer geared towards telling the president what they think the president wants to hear

        by Salo on Wed Aug 25, 2010 at 06:51:57 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Sorry about your Dad (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        but glad to hear his death wasn't in vain considering it was the motivation for you to quit.

        Best wishes to you.

        The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government. - Thomas Jefferson

        by ctexrep on Wed Aug 25, 2010 at 06:55:28 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Even pomegranates? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Pity the watermelons too.

      the intelligence community is no longer geared towards telling the president what they think the president wants to hear

      by Salo on Wed Aug 25, 2010 at 06:49:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Since when (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The US should carpet bomb the poppy fields until nothing will grow there for a thousand years

      do drug producers destroy their own crops?  The problem isn't that someone somewhere is growing poppies, the problem is that the US is growing poppies and/or supporting 'allies' who are growing poppies, with the full weight of the US military and financial apparatus.  If that heroin money is going straight to Wall St (which apparently owns Washington), then we're hardly likely to see any serious attempts at stopping the tide.

      This comment was brought to you by Goldman-Sachs: Our clients' interests always come first.

      by Kingsmeg on Wed Aug 25, 2010 at 06:50:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I hear you (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I just think it's sick what goes on.  I've seen the results of heroin addition.  I have zero tolerance for the drug in it's  illegal form - it's so destructive - not only for the user but for their families and community as well.

        The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government. - Thomas Jefferson

        by ctexrep on Wed Aug 25, 2010 at 06:58:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  It's my understanding (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kingsmeg, Sydserious, Larsstephens, bobsc

    I asked Mahmoud, was he likely to earn from this, his first yield?

    Almost instantly, the old man’s geniality dissolved and he became cagey.

    "I’m only a poor man, I don’t even own this land," he insisted, before pausing for a moment. "But believe me when I tell you, the greed of those who get rich from poppy will bring pain to the people of Afghanistan."
    David Pratt

    that an interrelated combination of poppy growing, land redistribution, effective local justice, and anti-landlordism, is a major component of Taliban appeal.

    E.g, about Pakistan,

    The Taliban have advanced deeper into Pakistan by engineering a class revolt that exploits profound fissures between a small group of wealthy landlords and their landless tenants, according to government officials and analysts here.

    Also, that the offensive around Marjah was intended to put the trafficking tax into our side's hands. Afghan Army checkpoint taxes, call it.

    But virtually every Afghan I talked to, be they government officials, law enforcement officers or street level drug dealers, believed that heroin trafficking provided as much financial support for a select group within the Afghan government and establishment as it did for the Taliban.

    "Heroin production and trafficking is a life support system for the war in Afghanistan, and the war in turn is the life support machine for the heroin trade,"
    David Pratt

    Eliminating the Taliban's competitive appeal about land redistribution, effective local justice, and anti-landlordism, seems a lot more likely to succeed, than trying to somehow stop poppy growing in remote areas of mountainous war-torn countries.

  •  The West makes drugs illegal, (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Salo, cacamp, Larsstephens, bobsc

    and then wonders why criminal networks pop up all over the 3rd world as thugs and lunatics destroy entire countries.

    It's American and European laws banning marijuana, cocaine, heroin that have made places like Afghanistan, Colombia and Mexico into free fire zones.

    Some drugs like pot should be legalized, like cigarettes.  

    Powerful narcotics like coca and poppy should be controlled, like alcohol - but more strictly.

    Banning the growing of these natural plants which have been in human use for thousands of years only turns users into victims, and provides criminals with tremendous power.

  •  In June 2003, I asked Sen. Kerry (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    to make the Military and CIA collaboration in the Junk trade an campaign issue. (I'd been among those who prompted his investigation of the Contra/Cocaine op in 1987.)

    He begged off, pointing out that with Republican control of the Senate he didn't have the ability to hold hearings, nor investigative staff.

    I still believe he could have parlayed exposure of Bushco heroin ops into the Presidency.

    Below, my 1st post to a blog, Al Gioradano's Big left Outside (never made it to the google archive, but can be found at the Wayback Machine at The post also detailed my conversation on medial marijuana with then candidate Howard Dean.

    Italics is Al.

    #28 Posted by Al Giordano
      June 16, 2003, 09:07 PM
      A Reader Confronts the Candidates

    Former Wisconsin Gubernatorial candidate, hemp crusader, and Big Left Outside reader Ben Masel files our first reader report from the presidential campaign trail.

    It seems that the WisPolitics website witnessed one of his exchanges, reporting:

    Howard Dean and veteran Madison marijuana advocate Ben Masel faced off in an impromptu hallway debate on medical marijuana Friday night.


    On to Senator Kerry. No audience this time, it's a quarter to six in the morning in the parking lot. He's waiting for his ride, I'm awakened from a short night in my car by hundreds of squawking seagulls.

    He doesn't recall my Contra/Cocaine article from '86, cited extensively in his Committee Report.

    We move to US complicity in the present day Afghan Heroin trade. He's sure it's going on, would consider making it a campaign issue, but hasn't looked at the evidence. His ride arrives.

    Kind Readers: You, too, can be a Big Left Outside reader-correspondent along the campaign trail. Send me an email, and if I don't know you already, send me references and disclose your agenda (you can have an agenda, as long as it is disclosed). But I don't want any phonies to get past the goalie. This ain't the NY Times newsroom here.

    In Masel's case, I know him. To my knowledge, he was the first gubernatorial candidate in Wisconsin history to campaign, one day, naked. Now, that's what I call full disclosure!

    Wisconsin's Republican candidates: Paper and Plastic.

    by ben masel on Wed Aug 25, 2010 at 07:21:35 PM PDT

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