Thursday, August 16, 2007

Better living through chemicals?

As I've already noted, the US military seems to be getting a free pass by the media on the issue of using Willy Pete, or White Phosphorus, in Iraq. Now we find out that the administration is gunning to combine the War on Terror with the War on Drugs by bringing the not so successful technique of aerial spraying of herbicides from the WOD in Columbia to Afghianstan. The new Amabassador to Afghanistan, William Wood, is hell-bent on getting the Afghan government to implement aerial herbicide spraying as a way of undermining the Taliban's cash flow.

Obviously, all you have to do is look at the boomtown that is Kandahar to understand that the Talibs are financing their insurgency against ISAF and the Americans with massive opium profits -- but is arial spraying the way? Didn't work in Vietnam, and it hasn't worked in Plan Columbia, where Wood worked before:

According to MEXIDATA.INFO:

"Numbers kept by the US government prove fumigation does not work. When Wood took his post in mid-2003, the US State Department had measured 113,850 hectares of coca plantations in Colombia. By year-end 2005, the last set of data publicly available, the State Department measured 144,000 hectares of coca in Colombia. According to the United Nations Office of Drug Control (UNODC), the volume of planted coca in Colombia from 2003 to 2005 did not change, remaining at 86,000 hectares.

So why would it work in Afghanistan?

And what about that "Heart and Minds" thing the administratrion is always talking about?

You start destroying Aghanis only cash crop, as has happening in Columbia and Equador, and the very patient Afghans, who actually still ike us, are going to go for the Talibs big time. Especially if we start poisoning their water and messing with their DNA.

Wait, their DNA?

Corpwatch reports:

"U.S.-funded aerial spraying of coca plantations in Colombia near the Ecuador border has severely damaged the DNA of local residents, a new study has found. Blood samples from 24 Ecuadorians living within three kilometres of the northern border had 600 to 800 percent more damage to their chromosomes than people living 80 km away, found scientists from the Pontificia Catholic University in Quito, Ecuador.

The border residents who were tested had been exposed to the common herbicide glyphosate -- sold by the U.S. agribusiness giant Monsanto under the brand Roundup --during a series of aerial sprayings by the Colombian government begun in 2000, part of the anti-drugs and counterinsurgency Plan Colombia, financed by Washington. The Ecuadorians suffered a variety of ailments immediately following the spraying, including intestinal pain and vomiting, diarrhoea, headaches, dizziness, numbness, burning of eyes or skin, blurred vision, difficulty in breathing and rashes, says the study, which is to be published in the journal Genetics and Molecular Biology."

That's all we need.

But, maybe, we don't care what Hamid Karzai has to say on the subject; which has been all along, basically, 'NO.'

USA Today reported recently, that despite constant US pressure to spray:

"Karzai's Cabinet decided . . . to hold off on using chemicals for now, according to Said Mohammad Azam, spokesman for Afghanistan's Ministry of Counter Narcotics. 'There will be no ground spraying this year,' Azam told The Associated Press. He said there would be more pressure to destroy poppy crops with 'traditional' techniques' — typically sending teams of laborers into fields to batter down or plow in the plants before they can be harvested. If it works, that is fine,' Azam said. 'If it does not, next year ground spraying will be in the list of options.'"

But, back in 2004:

"The dark plane came during the night, rattling windows in this picturesque farming village in eastern Afghanistan as it flew back and forth, spraying a chemical on houses, orchards and fields.
Farmers and tribal leaders, as well as the Afghan government, say unidentified planes have been spraying opium poppy fields with a toxic chemical.

Last week, President Hamid Karzai called in the ambassadors of Britain and the United States, the two main donors involved in efforts to combat narcotics in Afghanistan, to explain the aerial spraying in Nangarhar Province. Both countries denied any involvement, according to Karzais spokesman, Jawed Ludin. . . We do not support aerial spraying as an instrument of eradication,' Ludin said. 'We have never in the past, at present, and never will in the future authorize the use of poppy-spraying chemicals. The government of Afghanistan has not authorized any foreign entity, any foreign government, any foreign company, or anyone else to carry out aerial spraying.'"

--- Afghanisatn Peace Orginization December 05, 2004

Good luck with that . . . We can go into Pakstan if we want to, why would Afghanisatn be any different?

Maybe, instead of alienationg the only people in the region who're actually cheering us on we should do what the UN has suggested. Take the drug profits out of opium by selling it to pharmacutical companies for people in pain.

The United Nations NARCOTICS CONTROL BOARD had an idea a while back that seems to make a lot of sense.

"In keeping with its task of monitoring and ensuring that an adequate supply of narcotic drugs exists for licit medical purposes, the INCB warns that the availability and consumption of some essential narcotic drugs, particularly opioids, which are used for pain treatment, including palliative care, remains extremely low in many countries worldwide. . . The current global production is ample enough to meet a significant increase in the demand for narcotic drugs for the world population. The Board encourages manufacturing countries, in cooperation with the pharmaceutical industry, to explore ways to make narcotic drugs, in particular opioids, used for the treatment of pain, more affordable for countries with scarce financial resources and low levels of consumption."

How about giving the opium planter in Afghanistan a lot of money to treat people in pain? Sound crazy?

Well, Tony B-liar didn't think so not too long ago:

The Guardian (01 April 2007 ) reports:

"Tony Blair is on the brink of a U-turn that will set him on a collision course with President George Bush. The Prime Minister has ordered a review of his counter-narcotics strategy - including the possibility of legalising some poppy production - after an extraordinary meeting with a Tory MP on Wednesday. . . Downing Street spokesman confirmed last night that Mr Blair is now considering whether to back a pilot project that would allow some farmers to produce and sell their crops legally to drugs companies . . .

The White House has consistently rejected the idea that opium could help to solve Afghanistan's chronic poverty. But there are clear signs of a shift in international opinion towards allowing a legal trade. Pervez Musharraf, the President of Pakistan, has said that "buying the crop is an idea we could explore'. He added: 'We would need money from the US or the UN. But we could buy the whole crop and destroy it. In that way the poor growers would not suffer.' The Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, who has opposed the idea in the past, is said privately to have changed his mind - as long as the international community takes on any licensing scheme."

But that would make sense. We'll all have to wait until the gang that can't shoot straight get's out of office. The questions is: can we afford that wait?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Herbicides in War? I thought the civilized world had settled that question:

See The Preamble to the Chemical Weapons Convention:

"Recognizing the prohibition, embodied in the pertinent agreements and relevant principles of international law, of the use of herbicides as a method of warfare"

NOTE:U.S. Special Forces have already been trained to spray this fall.

Afghan daily says US will spray herbicide on poppies in autumn BBC Monitoring South Asia - PoliticalSupplied by BBC Worldwide Monitoring June 25, 2007 Monday,


The USA is getting ready to use herbicide on poppy fields [in Afghanistan]. The project will be carried out despite the Afghan government and the US military forces' disapproval of the plan. A delegation from Washington is to visit Kabul to convince President Karzai to agree to the use of herbicide called glycophate on the poppy fields. The US farmers use the herbicide to destroy weeds. The US officials state that the herbicide will be used by the Afghan land forces.

Some special forces have already been trained by the DynCorp Security Company to spray the herbicides this fall. The US officials say that the opium production has decreased or remained the same in the central and northern Afghanistan thanks to better security. However, opium production has been on the rise in the southeast and west, where security is critical.

Balkh Province has recently joined the very few provinces where poppy is not grown, including Panjsher and Maydan Wardag. The Afghan government does not approve of spraying herbicides from the air, one reasons being to avoid angering farmers. A number of individuals believe the most effective way to tackle drugs is to take serious measures against the drug traffickers and reduce the demand for drugs in Europe and America.


2:04 PM  

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