Afghanistan

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sheldrake
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Re: Afghanistan

Post by sheldrake » Tue Sep 21, 2021 12:17 pm

The figures in 2001 were a result of Taliban policy before the US invaded, from the UN report I linked "..observed the near total success of the ban in eliminating poppy cultivation in Taliban controlled areas".

Obviously there are many problems with the Taliban but I think they were/are sincerely motivated to protect people from drug addiction. About 39% of the world's heroin production came from opium grown in Helmand province alone.

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Re: Afghanistan

Post by plodder » Tue Sep 21, 2021 12:49 pm

The Taliban took over in 1996 though, it's just the one year with low production.

eta and they'd controlled big chunks of the country, including opium producing regions, for a couple of years prior to that, from about 1994, during which time production was healthy - it's only 2001 where it drops right off. Is that report suggesting the 2001 US invasion had no impact on production or smuggling?
Last edited by plodder on Tue Sep 21, 2021 12:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Afghanistan

Post by Bird on a Fire » Tue Sep 21, 2021 12:52 pm

Yeah, I think drug production is a convenient way for proscribed organisations to raise cash. A huge amount of cocaine production and distribution in Latin America comes from various armed revolutionary or paramilitary groups.

If the Taliban are going to "go straight" again they might prefer to switch to other crops. Their ability to do that might depend in part on the international community.

Thanks for the UN link btw, will take a butchers.
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Re: Afghanistan

Post by sheldrake » Tue Sep 21, 2021 1:14 pm

plodder wrote:
Tue Sep 21, 2021 12:49 pm
The Taliban took over in 1996 though, it's just the one year with low production.

eta and they'd controlled big chunks of the country, including opium producing regions, for a couple of years prior to that, from about 1994, during which time production was healthy - it's only 2001 where it drops right off. Is that report suggesting the 2001 US invasion had no impact on production or smuggling?
It's suggesting the US invasion saw opium farming increase again after a successful push to close it down by the Taliban. The US invasion was late 2001.

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Re: Afghanistan

Post by plodder » Tue Sep 21, 2021 1:21 pm

yeah, like a 6 month push after 6-7 years in charge.

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Re: Afghanistan

Post by Martin Y » Tue Sep 21, 2021 1:31 pm

Or, more optimistically, finally achieving a really big reduction in one year's crop but that was immediately followed by 9/11 so who knows if they would have sustained it.

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Re: Afghanistan

Post by sheldrake » Tue Sep 21, 2021 1:52 pm

plodder wrote:
Tue Sep 21, 2021 1:21 pm
yeah, like a 6 month push after 6-7 years in charge.
Yes, but it did seem to work. Controlling Afghanistan is probably quite hard, to be fair to them.

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Re: Afghanistan

Post by plodder » Tue Sep 21, 2021 1:56 pm

Here's the relevant graph. To the left of the very low year (2001) the Taliban were still in charge. To the right, it's the US.
Picture1.jpg
Picture1.jpg (48.45 KiB) Viewed 189 times

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Re: Afghanistan

Post by sheldrake » Tue Sep 21, 2021 2:02 pm

I don't doubt it, but do you think that the Taliban ban was somehow insincere?

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Re: Afghanistan

Post by Woodchopper » Tue Sep 21, 2021 2:24 pm

plodder wrote:
Tue Sep 21, 2021 1:56 pm
Here's the relevant graph. To the left of the very low year (2001) the Taliban were still in charge. To the right, it's the US.

Picture1.jpg
Well not really, as for many years the Taliban has has partial or complete control of much of the rural areas of Afghanistan.

Here's a map from 2020:
31048A2A-EABC-473F-B4B6-66B07784ADB2_w2114_n_r0_st.jpg
31048A2A-EABC-473F-B4B6-66B07784ADB2_w2114_n_r0_st.jpg (282.31 KiB) Viewed 177 times
Compare that map to this one of opium production:
_120241331_afg_map_opium-nc.png
_120241331_afg_map_opium-nc.png (680.06 KiB) Viewed 177 times
In general there wasn't much production in areas controlled by the US backed Afghan government. There was in areas partially or wholly controlled by the Taliban.

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Re: Afghanistan

Post by Gfamily » Tue Sep 21, 2021 2:30 pm

Woodchopper wrote:
Tue Sep 21, 2021 2:24 pm
In general there wasn't much production in areas controlled by the US backed Afghan government. There was in areas partially or wholly controlled by the Taliban.
But you forget that the Taliban were being distracted from their good works by conflict.

I'm sure they could have done far more to support the war on drugs if they'd only been given the chance.

Is that how the argument goes?
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Re: Afghanistan

Post by sheldrake » Tue Sep 21, 2021 2:33 pm

"In general there wasn't much production in areas controlled by the US backed Afghan government. There was in areas partially or wholly controlled by the Taliban."

The map you posted shows high production in Kabul, for example. I'm not sure this conclusion is sound.

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Re: Afghanistan

Post by Woodchopper » Tue Sep 21, 2021 2:39 pm

sheldrake wrote:
Tue Sep 21, 2021 2:33 pm
"In general there wasn't much production in areas controlled by the US backed Afghan government. There was in areas partially or wholly controlled by the Taliban."

The map you posted shows high production in Kabul, for example. I'm not sure this conclusion is sound.
I did write 'in general' rather than 'always'.

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Re: Afghanistan

Post by sheldrake » Tue Sep 21, 2021 2:44 pm

Also seeing heavier production in Heerat. Not sure there's good case for 'in general' even, but eyeballing maps with differing boundaries isn't a great way of doing this I admit. Is there another, more detailed source we can look at ?

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Re: Afghanistan

Post by plodder » Tue Sep 21, 2021 3:09 pm

sheldrake wrote:
Tue Sep 21, 2021 2:44 pm
Also seeing heavier production in Heerat. Not sure there's good case for 'in general' even, but eyeballing maps with differing boundaries isn't a great way of doing this I admit. Is there another, more detailed source we can look at ?
Yes, Annex 1 of the report I linked to gives about 15 years worth of detailed regional data: https://www.unodc.org/documents/crop-mo ... _SMALL.pdf

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Re: Afghanistan

Post by plodder » Tue Sep 21, 2021 3:23 pm

Linked to in that report is the "home page" for numerous historic global studies if anyone wants to test the theory that puritanical zealots are effective in the War On Drugs:

https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/crop-mon ... index.html

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Re: Afghanistan

Post by sheldrake » Tue Sep 21, 2021 3:35 pm

Afghanistan is the only country in the list of reports that I think has been run by puritanical zealots, and that report already said the Taliban had succesfully reduced production when they made their push right before invasion. I concede that had history played out differently they may not have been able or willing to sustain it though.

I don't see significant hard drug use in much of the middle east, although Pakistan is known to have big issues and the Yemen has serious Qat addiction.

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Re: Afghanistan

Post by plodder » Tue Sep 21, 2021 4:04 pm

Other middle eastern countries are not Afghanistan - they have oil, for example. Eyeballing woodchopper's maps we can see that Helmand province has certainly never been under full US control, and in the opium data in the 2020 report we see that over the last 10 years (when the province was a mixture of being under full Taliban control or contested) land dedicated to opium production doubled, from 65,000 Ha to 116,000 Ha.

I'm sure it's not deliberate, but the 2001 figure is clearly an outlier and I don't see any evidence the Taliban were successful (other than briefly) in reducing opium production - or even tried. I'll also stand by my assertion that bribery is needed to keep the warlords onside and this is strongly linked to the opium trade.

A nice detail on the cultural significance and resonance (i.e. the schtick) the Taliban are trying to create is in the link below. Mullah Omar led the Taliban government until 2001 (when the US invaded) and he literally wore the Prophet's robe.
As he rose to power, Mullah Omar deliberately modelled himself on the deposed emir Dost Mohammad, and like him removed the Holy Cloak of the Prophet Mohammad from its shrine in Kandahar and wrapped himself in it, declaring himself, like his model, Amir al-Muminin, the Leader of the Faithful, a deliberate and direct re-enactment of the events of First Afghan War, whose resonance was immediately understood by all Afghans.
https://www.theweek.in/theweek/cover/20 ... ymple.html

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Re: Afghanistan

Post by jdc » Tue Sep 21, 2021 4:10 pm

plodder wrote:
Tue Sep 21, 2021 4:04 pm

I'm sure it's not deliberate, but the 2001 figure is clearly an outlier and I don't see any evidence the Taliban were successful (other than briefly) in reducing opium production - or even tried.
They were successful in the only year they tried - opium production rose under the Taliban until the ban came in 2000.

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Re: Afghanistan

Post by sheldrake » Tue Sep 21, 2021 4:36 pm

plodder wrote:
Tue Sep 21, 2021 4:04 pm
Other middle eastern countries are not Afghanistan - they have oil, for example. Eyeballing woodchopper's maps we can see that Helmand province has certainly never been under full US control, and in the opium data in the 2020 report we see that over the last 10 years (when the province was a mixture of being under full Taliban control or contested) land dedicated to opium production doubled, from 65,000 Ha to 116,000 Ha.
Even Kabul region was a source of opium production when under US control. I find it easy to believe that a hardline and armed religious sect opposed to human consumption of intoxicants would be willing and capable of reducing their use; is it that you're drawing a parallel with US prohibition here (e.g. hypocrisy from people who are puritanical zealots in public but businessmen in private), or is it that you think economic desperation will always push morality aside?
Last edited by sheldrake on Tue Sep 21, 2021 4:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Afghanistan

Post by plodder » Tue Sep 21, 2021 4:47 pm

I think the Taliban are ultimately gangster pragmatists.

eta as were the US, if you squint.

As is often the case, I’m now not sure which point you’re trying to make, or whether there is any evidence behind it.
Last edited by plodder on Tue Sep 21, 2021 4:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Afghanistan

Post by sheldrake » Tue Sep 21, 2021 4:48 pm

Maybe, lets see what happens. That model makes sense for a lot of southeast asian or latin american regimes for me, but the Taliban look pretty ideological from a distance.

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Re: Afghanistan

Post by plodder » Tue Sep 21, 2021 4:52 pm

how dare you demean their proud ideologies; the SA revolutionaries are communists following the proud tradition of Che Guevara etc etc

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Re: Afghanistan

Post by plodder » Tue Sep 21, 2021 4:55 pm

jdc wrote:
Tue Sep 21, 2021 4:10 pm
plodder wrote:
Tue Sep 21, 2021 4:04 pm

I'm sure it's not deliberate, but the 2001 figure is clearly an outlier and I don't see any evidence the Taliban were successful (other than briefly) in reducing opium production - or even tried.
They were successful in the only year they tried - opium production rose under the Taliban until the ban came in 2000.
I’ve no doubt there are puritanical factions within the Taliban which will be exposed very quickly now they are actually in power, but I bet the starve the peasants because Sharia brigade get unstuck pretty quickly. Women will get a sh.t deal but it’ll ultimately become a gangster state rather than an Islamist nirvana.

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Re: Afghanistan

Post by jdc » Tue Sep 21, 2021 5:09 pm

plodder wrote:
Tue Sep 21, 2021 4:55 pm
jdc wrote:
Tue Sep 21, 2021 4:10 pm
plodder wrote:
Tue Sep 21, 2021 4:04 pm

I'm sure it's not deliberate, but the 2001 figure is clearly an outlier and I don't see any evidence the Taliban were successful (other than briefly) in reducing opium production - or even tried.
They were successful in the only year they tried - opium production rose under the Taliban until the ban came in 2000.
I’ve no doubt there are puritanical factions within the Taliban which will be exposed very quickly now they are actually in power, but I bet the starve the peasants because Sharia brigade get unstuck pretty quickly. Women will get a sh.t deal but it’ll ultimately become a gangster state rather than an Islamist nirvana.
I think the Taliban are ultimately gangster pragmatists. I guess whether there is another crackdown on production depends if things like diplomatic recognition and international aid are worth more to them than the tax they took from opium pre-2000 and post-2001.

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