Saturday, January 29, 2011
How did we get where we are today in Afghanistan? A blast from the past. From 2001...
The Taliban's Biggest Economic Attack on the U.S. Came in February With The Destruction
of Its Opium Crop
Michael C. Ruppert
Money connections between Bush Republicans and Osama bin Laden go way back and the political and economic connections have remained unbroken for 20 years. And what appears to be a "new" alliance with Pakistan is merely a new manifestation of a decades-long partnership in the heroin trade.
Conveniently ignored in all of the press coverage since the tragic events of Sept. 11 is the fact that on May 17 Secretary of State Colin Powell announced a gift of $43 million to the Taliban as a purported reward for its eradication of Afghanistan's opium crop this February. That, in effect, made the U.S. the Taliban's largest financial benefactor according to syndicated columnist Robert Scheer writing in The Los Angeles times on May 22. But -- as we described in FTW's March 2001 issue -- the Taliban's destruction of that crop was apparently the single most important act of economic warfare against U.S. economic interests that the Taliban had ever committed. So why the gift?
Critics of the Gulf War well recall how, just prior to Saddam's invasion of Kuwait, President Bush (Sr.) dispatched Ambassador April Glaspie to visit Saddam with a letter and a "wink and a nod" telling the Iraqi leader that it was OK to invade his smaller neighbor. The May gift from Uncle Sam could well have been sending the same kind of message, along with necessary funds to complete the attacks. Drugs and terrorism go hand in hand.
Until February, Afghanistan had been the world's largest producer of opium/heroin, claiming close to 70% of the world's total production. That opium, consumed largely in Western Europe and smuggled through the Balkans, was a direct source of cash deposits in Western financial institutions and markets.
I specifically commented on this at an economic crisis conference in Moscow, Russia on March 7. In my formal statement to the Russian conference I said,
"Just before coming to this conference I read in the Associated Press, Agence France Press and other reliable sources that the Taliban has recently eradicated most of its 3000 ton opium crop in Afghanistan. If true, I view this as a form of economic warfare against Russia [and the U.S.] because it would drive opium production more into Southeast Asia and Colombia. However, I now suspect that this will result in a shift of opium production to the Caucasus under the Kurds which will see an increase in smuggling through Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan. I should note that both Vice President Richard Cheney and the designated Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage are members of the US-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce. Such a move would have the effect of drastically shortening smuggling routes and costs into Western Europe and of bypassing unstable areas of the Balkans.
I have received additional reports that Uzbekistan is now awash in the opium poppy and, as in the US with the CIA, that Russian military and intelligence agencies facilitate the trade as a means of protecting access to hard currency. The point here is not that the US it totally evil or the only country doing these things. But the US is far and away the most advanced nation when it comes to the use of such methods to achieve superiority. As [Russian economist Michael] Khazin has noted, the US and Britain and Germany started the conflict in Kosovo in 1999 to stave off a collapse of western markets following the Asian collapse of 1997-8. Now Colombia is a last-ditch effort to protect the US markets and European opposition is jeopardizing that plan."
The Taliban's actions this year severed the ruling military junta in Pakistan from its primary source of foreign revenues and made bin Laden and the Taliban completely expendable in the eyes of the Pakistani government. It also cut off billions of dollars in revenues that had been previously laundered through western banks and Russian financial institutions connected to them.
Now as US military action will replace the Taliban government and fresh crops will be planted in Afghanistan, the slack in cash flow will assuredly be replaced by dramatically increased opium production in Colombia; the revenues from that effort being needed to maintain the revenue streams into Wall Street. Prior to the WTC attacks, credible sources, including the U.S. government, the IMF, Le Monde and the U.S. Senate placed the amount of drug cash flowing into Wall Street and U.S. banks at around $250-$300 billion a year.
In that context, the real history of Osama bin Laden, as America's useful terrorist-du-jour reveals a long and continuous history, interwoven with the drug trade and the Bush family, of supporting conflicts that have benefited U.S. military and economic interests...