by Marco Pondrelli
For years the collective West has accustomed us to launching great wars in the name of freedom, in 2001 the emotion and indignation at the culling of the twin towers allowed the invasion of Afghanistan. Officially, the Western coalition’s objective was to capture Osama Bin Laden and break the relationship between Al Qaeda and Taliban. In reality, as is now clear to those who want to be informed, that war like the subsequent ones was necessary to create destabilization, continuing to spend money for the benefit of the military industry.
Explaining that a war is being waged to destabilize a region or to finance weapons manufacturers does not help convince public opinion to accept the deaths (civilian and military) and the costs of conflict. Once the indignation over the September 11 attack subsided, we moved on to other topics, our soldiers killed and were killed to bring democracy, to help women and to build schools. Added to these amenities was the fight against drug trafficking, the Italian commentator Saviano stated that the Taliban were the new narcos, the fact that during their first government drug production had collapsed did not discourage him, because according to his ‘lucid’ analysis the cut of production was just a way to raise prices and then restart production. The inaccuracies contained in Saviano’s article were pointed out very punctually by Nico Piro in a nice article that you can find here. The fact that must be underlined is that Western intervention corresponded to an increase in opium production. Not only did this production resume but, as Nico Piro explains, the ‘drug supply chain’ was built so that Afghanistan did not limit itself to exporting opium but directly heroin.
The fable of the fight against drugs had to convince a refractory public opinion to accept the costs of an unpopular conflict. Unfortunately, while our televisions filled us with promises about the liberation of our cities from this scourge, the American general who led the Western invasion in 2002, Tommy Franks, declared that the fight against drugs was not part of the mission’s objectives, something reiterated in 2003 by spokesman for the Bagram base (known for the torture that took place inside) Harrison Sarles who stated: ‘we are not an anti-drug task force: this is not part of our mission’.
It is interesting to understand what happened with respect to drug production after the Western withdrawal. Italian newspaper ‘Il Sole 24 Ore’ broke the news with an article that should have received greater attention in the political debate. Marco Masciaga writes: ‘when between February and August 2021 the military came to power in Myanmar and Afghanistan on the one hand and the Taliban on the other, not only did the destinies of almost 100 million people change. The geopolitics of drug trafficking also emerged transformed. Today, Afghanistan is no longer the leading producer of opium, having been overtaken in this dramatic classic by Myanmar. Better than many arguments, a number illustrates the hypocrisy of the West: in Afghanistan, heroin production has collapsed by 95%!
The Western narrative at time of the withdrawal (or rather the escape) from Kabul was already perplexing at time, whether 20 years of military occupation had truly guaranteed democracy and economic well-being why the government melted like snow in the sun as soon as the occupying troops left the country? Why the well-trained Afghan army did not fight and the President fled abroad with suitcases full of money.
Today it would be interesting to open a reflection on drug trafficking, who favored it: the Taliban or the Americans? We do not want to attribute progressive or socialist ideas to the Taliban, they just want to highlight how, like it or not, theirs was a war of national liberation against an unjust occupation that brought war, torture, hunger and poverty, remembering that drugs it was not only intended for export but also affected the Afghan people.
The question we ask ourselves is why do many countries find their path to national emancipation in the Islamic religion? Better still, one might ask why Islam, which in the past (Gaddafi, Nasser to give just two examples) has demonstrated its ability to take on progressive and socialist demands, today bends towards openly conservative positions? To answer this question it is necessary to study and know history, the West has always fought the attempts at emancipation of the peoples of the southern hemisphere by strengthening the most openly reactionary parts. Many remember the photo of the Afghan students who went to university in miniskirts in the 1970s. Why was that experience attacked? President Carter’s then security advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, explained it very clearly, the Soviet Union had to be hit, dragging it into a costly war, from a human, economic and political point of view.
The situation in Afghanistan is still evolving, we hope that a tormented country will finally find peace and that it will be preparatory to economic and social growth, at the moment we can only acknowledge that it was the Taliban who attacked the production of drugs and not the West.
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