Wednesday, April 07, 2004

President Bush: "Just Say Yes" to heroin? How Bush's policies gave Afghanistan back to Al Quaeda and hooked our forces on dope. Seymour Hersh explores in this week's New Yorker how we lost the aftermath of the war in Afghanistan -- shades of the Iraq debacle. And now our soldiers there are starting to become hooked on the skyrocketing amounts of home-grown heroin. Here's how Hersh explains it in a Q-and-A:

Q:One of the most disturbing parts of your piece has to do with drugs. What’s happened to the heroin business in Afghanistan?

Hersh: There has been a lot of talk from the Administration about eradicating drugs, dealing with the drug problem. The fact is that the U.N. Office of Drugs and Crime recently reported that not only did the number of fields used to cultivate poppies—the raw ingredient for heroin—grow to near-record levels in 2003, but, according to surveys of farmers, seventy per cent expect to grow even more next year. Much of that is taking place in areas in which the U.S. has a major military presence. The Taliban, awful as they were, hated drugs, and in their last year in power heroin production had fallen to a hundred and eighty-five metric tons; last year, the number was thirty-six hundred.

Q:Almost a twentyfold increase.

Hersh: That’s right. And to the credit of the Pentagon, I must say, there are people there who recognize that there has been a failure on our part, and that something needs to be done about it.

Q: What about American soldiers? You write that there are concerns about their well-being, given the glut of drugs in the area.

Hersh: I’ve been told for more than a year that there were problems of heroin use, in particular among the rear-echelon soldiers in Afghanistan, and that it was a problem that was simply being buried by the leadership. In my reporting, I was also told that there had been a problem with some of the Marines. And the Pentagon, when they were asked for comment, acknowledged that there had been problems with some U.S. military personnel for suspected use, though in the case of the Marines, at least, they said that it was marijuana, not heroin. A lot of hashish is also produced in Afghanistan

He gives his views on this topic and the failed war on terrorism in an accompanying interview on the Web page.The New Yorker: Online Only

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