Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Sowing the Dragon's Teeth

Also in yesterday's Times, page A5 has a Reuters piece containing a warning from the International Monetary Fund that Afghanistan is being run by "powerful drug traffickers."

Writes Reuters: "In its first full review of Afghanistan's economy in 12 years, the fund said that opium, made from poppies grown on fertile lands, mainly in the south, made up 40 percent to 50 percent of the Afghan economy."

Here are the numbers: "From 1994 to 2000, Afghanistan's production averaged around 3,000 tons a year and covered less than 1 percent of the country's arable land. Output dropped to just 185 tons in 2001 after Afghanistan's Taliban rulers banned production.

"But after Washington waged war on the Taliban and forced them out, production soared to about 3,422 tons in 2002, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has reported."

Given this information, I found it ironic that another story in the same day's paper, this one on page A12, has Paul Bremer justifying the administration's request for $87 billion to "rebuild" Iraq and Afghanistan with these words:

"If, after coming this far, we turn our backs and let Iraq lapse into factional chaos, some new tyranny and terrorism, we will have committed a grave error. Not only will we have left the long-suffering Iraqi people to a future of danger and deprivation, we will have sown the dragon's teeth which will sprout more terrorists and eventually cost more American lives."

[Please note: I have merged two quotes together here that ran as two separate grafs in succession.]

Bremer made these comments before the Senate Appropriations Committee, which began hearings Monday on the White House's $87 billion request.

So what, pray tell, are we doing in Afghanistan if not "sowing the dragon's teeth"?

How do the so-called conservatives feel about propping up a state that dominates the international trade in heroin?

Is this part of the Project for a New American Century?