Ever wonder why there is a direct, near seamless relationship between U.S. military interventions and the proliferation of the narcotics trade? You should!
Writing in Thursday's Independent, award-winning Middle East correspondent Patrick Cockburn informs us:
The cultivation of opium poppies whose product is turned into heroin is spreading rapidly across Iraq as farmers find they can no longer make a living through growing traditional crops.The destruction of the Iraqi economy, fueled by a decade of U.S.-imposed sanctions in the wake of Gulf War I and now, the current U.S. invasion and occupation, has resulted in a near total collapse of Iraq's once-prosperous society. Into this social void, criminal gangs, terrorist outfits and various American "allies" linked to this or that "Coalition" faction rush in, a plague of locusts ravaging Mesopotamia.
Afghans with experience in planting poppies have been helping farmers switch to producing opium in fertile parts of Diyala province, once famous for its oranges and pomegranates...
The growing and smuggling of opium will be difficult to stop in Iraq because much of the country is controlled by criminalised militias. American successes in Iraq over the past year have been largely through encouraging the development of a 70,000-strong Sunni Arab militia, many of whose members are former insurgents linked to protection rackets, kidnapping and crime. Muqtada al-Sadr, the leader of the powerful Shia militia, the Mehdi Army, says that criminals have infiltrated its ranks.As in Turkey, Afghanistan, Colombia, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Burma, on and on, "freedom on the march" is accompanied by the custom official's greased palm, the covert operator's blind eye and the ever-inventive "sources and methods" of the narco-trafficker.