Blair lies over Afghan poppies


On the BBC website, there is a report dated 19 January 2004, entitled Taleban drugs control ‘effective’, on a study by criminologist Professor Graham Farrell from Loughborough University.  The report says:


“The Taleban’s fight against opium production in Afghanistan was the ‘most effective’ drug control policy of modern times, research suggests.  During the 1990s, Afghanistan was the main source of the world’s illicit heroin supply.  But a UK study has found a Taleban crackdown on drugs led to global heroin production falling by two-thirds in 2001.    But from July 2000 until its downfall over a year later, the Taleban regime enforced a ban on cultivating opium poppy - from which heroin is manufactured.  … The study said the result was that poppy growing in Taleban-controlled areas almost ceased and that globally, the heroin supply fell by 65%.  … But since the Taleban was deposed, poppy cultivation has increased sharply.”


The Prime Minister gave an interview to British Forces Broadcasting on his pre-Christmas trip to Iraq and he was asked if it was necessary for British forces to go to Afghanistan, specifically for them “to go down South to a more dangerous area”.  In one of him usual rambling replies, which conflated bringing democracy to Iraq and Afghanistan, he said:


“… in the case of Afghanistan it is obviously important because we need to tackle also the drugs trade that is still there and that was built up over the Taliban years”


Could it possibly be that the Prime Minister doesn’t know that the Taliban suppressed poppy cultivation in their later years in power and that their demise has been followed by a resurgence of poppy cultivation?  Or is he just lying in order to manufacture an excuse for sending more British troops to their deaths in Afghanistan?  Is the story going to be that it is in our national interest to send troops to Afghanistan in order to reduce the flow of heroin into Britain?  That story is difficult to sell alongside the fact that the US/UK intervention in Afghanistan brought about the resurgence of poppy cultivation.



David Morrison

Labour & Trade Union Review

7 January 2006