Why isn’t Afghanistan an issue in the presidential campaign?

(This op-ed was supposed to appear in the Opinion section of today’s (9/18/16) Portsmouth Herald, but didn’t. It’s now the common intellectual property of humanity. Post and share as widely as you want, as long as you give credit to me and Free Radical Maine.)


Earlier this week, there was a report on National Public Radio about the 2016 presidential race—about the poverty of the language, with its endless chatter on trivial issues (“deplorables,” what’ll-he-do-next?), and absence of discussion of real issues.


The reporter specifically mentioned Afghanistan as an issue which isn’t being discussed by either candidate, at a time we mark 15 years of US war and occupation—the longest war in American history. Not only that, but right after we overthrew the Taliban—who had reduced opium production in the country by 97 percent in 2000—opium production immediately skyrocketed back to a peak by 2007, the height of the Great Recession–exactly when the global banking system needed the liquid cash it depends on from the drug trade most.


During that period, international investigators found connections between the drug industry (among the three largest in the world, according to the UN’s 2016 drug report, along with oil and agriculture—because drugs are an underground commodity, it’s impossible to tell which is largest) and HSBC, Wachovia Bank, Citigroup, Standard Chartered, Bank of America, Western Union, and JP Morgan Chase, among others in the international banking industry.


Besides which, our puppet former president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai—who was a lobbyist for an oil company negotiating with the Taliban for a cross-Afghan pipeline in the summer of 2001—openly admitted to the media that he was taking money from the CIA while he was president. Of course, the CIA has a long history of being involved in the drug trade in Afghanistan, beginning with the mujahedeen war in the 1980s, and extensively documented in Alfred McCoy’s book, The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade. Karzai’s brother, according to both McCoy’s book and the New York Times, was the biggest drug dealer in Afghanistan.


This is what makes the absence of Afghanistan as an issue from the 2016 presidential campaign so puzzling. After 15 years of US military occupation, when Afghanistan remains the top supplier of heroin to the world, according to the 2016 UN drug report, with a traditional economy so destroyed by 30 years of covert and overt US wars that over 50 percent of its current economy depends on opium; and the US is listed as sixth in heroin seizures, right behind Kenya (to get an idea of how pitiful this is, Iran was first with 75 percent); and 30-year Drug Enforcement Administration agent David Dayle once testified that he had never seen a major international drug operation that the CIA wasn’t involved in; and epidemic levels of heroin use and heroin overdose deaths are at a crisis point in the nation and the region, and discussed incessantly in both the Portsmouth Herald and other media outlets in the region—why isn’t Afghanistan an issue in the presidential campaign, especially when the CIA is under the direct control of the president?


Theoretically, anyway.


About Free Radical Maine

Free Radical Maine is the blog of Michael (Mike) Hasty, a lifelong activist, writer, musician and carpenter.
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