#211 Taliban’s Tyranny No Problem For Anti-Drug Aid

Date: Wed, 23 May 2001
Subject: #211 Taliban’s Tyranny No Problem For Anti-Drug Aid

Taliban’s Tyranny No Problem For Anti-Drug Aid


DrugSense FOCUS Alert #211 Wednesday May 23, 2001

The moral bankruptcy of the drug war was highlighted again last week
as US officials announced that the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan would
be receiving about $43 million in anti-drug funds for forcing farmers
to abandon opium crops that had previously been tolerated.

As columnist Robert Scheer pointed out in the Los Angeles Times
(below), the Taliban has created one of the world’s most repressive
governments. Women have been effectively stripped of all rights in
Afghanistan, and leaders have caused other recent international
uproars by destroying ancient Buddhist statues and announcing that
religious minorities will soon be required to wear identification tags.

But all this can be forgiven by the Bush administration, because these
totalitarians are allies in the drug war. US leaders and the Taliban
are also aware that farmers who had been growing opium will likely
starve, but aside from expressing mild regret, they are doing nothing
to change the situation.

Please write a letter to the Los Angeles Times to express outrage that
the drug war is again being used as an excuse to support cruel oppression.

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Contact Info

Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Contact: letters@latimes.com



US CA: Column: Bush’s Faustian Deal With The Taliban
URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v01/n922/a09.html
Newshawk: Terry Liittschwager
Pubdate: Tue, 22 May 2001
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2001 Los Angeles Times
Contact: letters@latimes.com
Website: http://www.latimes.com/
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/248
Author: Robert Scheer
Note: Robert Scheer Is a Syndicated Columnist.


Enslave your girls and women, harbor anti-U.S. terrorists, destroy
every vestige of civilization in your homeland, and the Bush
administration will embrace you. All that matters is that you line up
as an ally in the drug war, the only international cause that this
nation still takes seriously.

That’s the message sent with the recent gift of $43 million to the
Taliban rulers of Afghanistan, the most virulent anti-American
violators of human rights in the world today. The gift, announced last
Thursday by Secretary of State Colin Powell, in addition to other
recent aid, makes the U.S. the main sponsor of the Taliban and rewards
that “rogue regime” for declaring that opium growing is against the
will of God. So, too, by the Taliban’s estimation, are most human
activities, but it’s the ban on drugs that catches this
administration’s attention.

Never mind that Osama bin Laden still operates the leading
anti-American terror operation from his base in Afghanistan, from
which, among other crimes, he launched two bloody attacks on American
embassies in Africa in 1998.

Sadly, the Bush administration is cozying up to the Taliban regime at
a time when the United Nations, at U.S. insistence, imposes sanctions
on Afghanistan because the Kabul government will not turn over Bin

The war on drugs has become our own fanatics’ obsession and easily
trumps all other concerns. How else could we come to reward the
Taliban, who has subjected the female half of the Afghan population to
a continual reign of terror in a country once considered enlightened
in its treatment of women.

At no point in modern history have women and girls been more
systematically abused than in Afghanistan where, in the name of
madness masquerading as Islam, the government in Kabul obliterates
their fundamental human rights. Women may not appear in public without
being covered from head to toe with the oppressive shroud called the
burkha , and they may not leave the house without being accompanied by
a male family member. They’ve not been permitted to attend school or
be treated by male doctors, yet women have been banned from practicing
medicine or any profession for that matter.

The lot of males is better if they blindly accept the laws of an
extreme religious theocracy that prescribes strict rules governing all
behavior, from a ban on shaving to what crops may be grown. It is this
last power that has captured the enthusiasm of the Bush White House.

The Taliban fanatics, economically and diplomatically isolated, are at
the breaking point, and so, in return for a pittance of legitimacy and
cash from the Bush administration, they have been willing to appear to
reverse themselves on the growing of opium. That a totalitarian
country can effectively crack down on its farmers is not surprising.
But it is grotesque for a U.S. official, James P. Callahan, director
of the State Department’s Asian anti-drug program, to describe the
Taliban’s special methods in the language of representative democracy:
“The Taliban used a system of consensus-building,” Callahan said after
a visit with the Taliban, adding that the Taliban justified the ban on
drugs “in very religious terms.”

Of course, Callahan also reported, those who didn’t obey the
theocratic edict would be sent to prison.

In a country where those who break minor rules are simply beaten on
the spot by religious police and others are stoned to death, it’s
understandable that the government’s “religious” argument might be
compelling. Even if it means, as Callahan concedes, that most of the
farmers who grew the poppies will now confront starvation. That’s
because the Afghan economy has been ruined by the religious extremism
of the Taliban, making the attraction of opium as a previously
tolerated quick cash crop overwhelming.

For that reason, the opium ban will not last unless the U.S. is
willing to pour far larger amounts of money into underwriting the
Afghan economy.

As the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Steven Casteel admitted, “The
bad side of the ban is that it’s bringing their country–or certain
regions of their country–to economic ruin.” Nor did he hold out much
hope for Afghan farmers growing other crops such as wheat, which
require a vast infrastructure to supply water and fertilizer that no
longer exists in that devastated country. There’s little doubt that
the Taliban will turn once again to the easily taxed cash crop of
opium in order to stay in power.

The Taliban may suddenly be the dream regime of our own war drug war
zealots, but in the end this alliance will prove a costly failure. Our
long sad history of signing up dictators in the war on drugs
demonstrates the futility of building a foreign policy on a domestic



To the editor,

I’m glad Robert Scheer took the Bush administration to task for giving
millions in anti-drug aid to Afghanistan’s Taliban, a government that
insists on dehumanizing women and committing other crimes (“Bush’s
Faustian Deal With The Taliban,” May 22).

US leaders seem to think that despite all the horrors that have been
visited on the people of Afghanistan, a successful drug eradication
program shows some light shining in an otherwise very dark government.
To the contrary, America’s relentless support of the drug war helps to
magnify the darkness in our own government.

Instead of rewarding these despots, the administration ought to
reevaluate its own policies and goals regarding drugs. If we have to
bribe the Taliban to display a degree of ruthlessness suitable to us,
that should surely indicate the depth to which we have sunk in the
immoral cesspool of the drug war.

Stephen Young contact info

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