September 24th, 2009 17:51 EST
Today's Dionysus -- Afghan Poppies and Espionage
The Dionysus of today is hard core drugs, and the old Greek god has a strong grip on our ally, Afghanistan.
Here is some background:
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Russia presses US to destroy Afghan poppy crop
By DOUGLAS BIRCH (AP)
MOSCOW " Russia is pressing the White House to resurrect the Bush-era policy of large-scale eradication of poppy fields in Afghanistan, an effort that critics say angered Afghan farmers and rallied support for the Taliban but did little to curb the cultivation of opium. [snip]
"It`s not enough to offer alternative farming," Ivanov said, according to Izvestia. Instead, he told The New York Times this week, the Obama administration should use the kind of aerial spraying of herbicides the U.S. has employed against the illicit coca crop in Colombia. [snip]
[Russia is suffering greatly from Afghani narcotics exports.]
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Afghanistan: Heroin-ravaged State
by Prof. Peter Dale Scott
It is better to think of them not as failed states but as ravaged states, ravaged primarily from the intrusions of outside powers. The policy implications of recognizing that a state has been ravaged are complex and ambiguous. [snip]
After Pakistan banned opium cultivation in February 1979 and Iran followed suit in April, the absence of legal controls in the Pashtun areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan " "attracted Western drug cartels and "scientists` (including "some "fortune-seekers" from Europe and the US`) to establish heroin processing facilities in the tribal belt." [snip]
"In 2007, Afghanistan supplied 93% of the world`s opium, according to the U.S. State Department. Illicit poppy production, meanwhile, brings $4 billion into Afghanistan, or more than half the country`s total economy of $7.5 billion ..." [snip]
[end of quotes]
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When it comes to heroin and the CIA, you can catch plenty of buzz on Google. But as for the tree killers ", what do they report? They`ve been trying to find a link between Karzai`s brother and heroin traffic. The Gray Lady has apparently let the scandal drop after October of 2008. Here are three summaries of different papers:
The [London] Times, November 24, 2007
The Globe and Mail, May 3, 2008
New York Times, October 5, 2008
Here is one related 2009 report [in rawa.org]:
Ka`s brother threatened McClatchy writer reporting Afghan drug story
Featured is this:
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I managed to record just one full sentence: "Get the (expletive) out before I kick your (expletive)."
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[Wali threatened to beat him up.]
"Ahmed Wali Karzai is feared by many in southern Afghanistan, and being threatened by him, in his home, isn`t something to be taken lightly." [snip]
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He had been riding around, trying to look Afghani [I guess he was undercover]. He talked with poppy growers and they spilled the beans [or uh, poppies]. As for the Gray Lady, I don`t know, maybe Wali threatened to beat up the NYT reporters? "I`ll chase you through your infidel skyscrapers and pummel you with so many dirty words that your tree-killing ears will turn red." [Just wondering.]
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My own opinion:
While I see no smoking gun, this covers two administrations; the thought that either Oval Office is clueless about it is laughable.
This will ultimately undermine public support of the CIA and Federal government.
I see five ways to go:
1. Purge the CIA
2. Find a scapegoat
3. Force the CIA to solve the problem
4. Legalize narcotics
5. Let it ride
1. Purge the CIA?
The political climate is extremely hot. If the CIA is drastically revamped, problems could result. Looking back in history, we are on the verge of repeating what Athens did in the Peloponnesian War. Machiavelli explained the way the Romans handled it in the Discourses, Chapter XXXI.
I cannot imagine a "rogue agency" being the only one to blame.
OK, now I`ll spell out what I mean:
Presidents are sometimes tempted to "clean house", to dump a spy agency and replace it with a new one, purging any partisan holdouts that might be a threat. The problem is, what do you do with the Old Guard? Not everyone can be arrested at once. It takes time to flip suspects into informants. The spies in place right now have the experience and connections. A revamping of this agency would free up these agents to dig dirt on the DNC leadership structure. The political mudslinging would escalate. Another problem is that the US military is demoralized. They do not feel that the President is looking out for them. Retired/threatened CIA agents could spread discord with military officers [something they`re trained to do].
Just as important, we need to keep our spies` minds on the terrorists as much as possible rather than preparation for hearings and trials. We need to keep them busy too. The busier your agencies are, the less time they have for mischief.
But what about a New Guard, young Turks all fired up to "do it right"? Experience counts more in espionage than money. When we first tried to take on the KGB, they snatched up our inexperienced spies and infiltrated our agencies. It was a problem that lasted throughout the entire Cold War -- they had moles from beginning to end.
We even bungled the matter of Soviet spy, Alger Hiss, who was a personal friend of FDR. After Roosevelt passed away, Truman also ignored warnings and put Hiss in charge of helping construct the United Nations.
If you start digging into names like Berle, Bullitt, Dubinsky, Levine, and Winchell [combined with Chambers "] it opens a big can of worms -- six known Soviet agents in the government, Hiss being only the most notable. FDR should have been able to clean up the Soviet hornet`s nest. It was his sworn duty to prevent theft of vital intelligence secrets, especially the Atom Bomb. He left a terrible mess for Truman, and there was no real solution. [I could understand Truman`s incredulity after FDR held Hiss in such high regard. Alger Hiss was a fixture, teflon-coated.]
The problem was partisan rivalry. Conservatives were so stridently against the New Deal that FDR did not trust any "red-baiting". He thought it was a trap, and Truman later thought the same thing. The nation`s traditional values were in such a state of upheaval that Americans mistrusted each others` motivations. Major change can be dangerous in time of war. In the end, our disunion destroyed a military monopoly. Some might think that was for the best; I don`t. Peace in our time was almost realized.
Trust of our agents can be difficult, especially when they are placed in a situation like a state run by addictive narcotics. I hope this history puts things in perspective. There are people in that part of the world who would love nothing better than to nuke a US city. Is this the time to start rattling the CIA? I don`t think so.
2. Find a Scapegoat?
The reality is that, in the Obama Administration, the highest up the food chain that might make a scapegoat would be former CIA Director, Leon Pinetta. That still would not be high enough to end the scandal. The President had inherited a major hot potato. Obama did not cause the narcotics problem in Afghanistan, but he apparently fears doing anything about it. That is the only logical explanation. Someone along the line might be getting kickbacks ever since the war began. In the long run, a scapegoat will only create enemies and discord.
3. Force the CIA to Solve the Problem?
The Japanese have no word for "excuse". In their minds, there are no excuses, only solutions. That was a saying in a company I had worked in: "Don`t give us excuses -- give us solutions. Take responsibility and solve it."
Why waste mental energy playing blame games? Just solve the problem and move on. There is still time for the President to hold a meeting, pound the table, and demand solutions. He needs to make calls and talk with the top narcotics investigators in the country. And by the way, this problem is so puny economically speaking, it`s a joke. They estimate that narcotics in Afghanistan was $4 billion. Heck, DC sneezes that much in a day. The cost of the War on Terror dwarfs this. How hard would it be to take out every cartel base, hunt down the drug lords, and invest some money for a completely new Afghanistan economy?
Imagine the headlines if President Obama does this in his first year in office? He could use the ratings boost, and revamping their economy would actually be cheaper than revamping the CIA.
4. Legalize narcotics?
Some want to see the US loosen up on drug law enforcement. One problem is that the regulation of drug use would be a major temptation. How can politicians ignore weeping mothers on the screen in high definition? They would be compelled to regulate the drugs. Keeping narcotics illegal helps the hard core drug trade to flourish as a genuine free market. That is the most effective way to keep it rolling smoothly. Big profits mean big bribes.
5. Let it ride?
There is a good chance that this will be the chosen solution. Who will notice this one? Let it ride. "
But then being progressive would look sleazy. Here is the chance for progressives to display progress in integrity. The nation needs to see the genuine fruits of progress: a little progress in prosperity, a little progress in the war against drugs, a little progress against corruption. If progressives display progress, they would remain in power.
This reminds me of Offshore Drilling Paradoxes " --
We are now funding Petrobras Oil in Brazil with US tax money? That makes even less sense than supporting a narcotics-based economy in Afghanistan. D.C. right now does not care about carbon footprints any more than Al Gore cares about cutting his electric bill. Why should they care about drug addicts?
Will they listen to reason? Nah. No matter what justifications are bouncing around in their heads, in the end, the root is the same in both administrations -- corruption. Let it ride. Dionysus is swimming in their heads.
On a moonlit night, people can wander to the Potomac and look upon the shore. There they will see the maenads dancing in mad, drunken rapture.