“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

With U.S. military forces preparing to exit from Afghanistan in 2014, the nation’s ongoing and high level illicit drug production remains a subject of debate in the world’s foreign policy and counterterrorism circles — since profits from the illicit drug trade have for years been known to finance international terrorism.

Afghanistan again tops list of illegal drug producers
Afghanistan remains by far the world’s top producer of illegal opium poppy used to make heroin, according to the State Department’s annual report on global trends in the illicit narcotics trade, which also pinpoints three countries — Bolivia, Burma and Venezuela — for having “failed demonstrably” to uphold international counternarcotics agreements.
The report, which the State Department quietly released and submitted to Congress last week, also highlights Nicaragua as a major drug transit country and claims that more than 80 percent of illegal cocaine entering the U.S. gets smuggled through the Central American corridor.
The 2013 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report also cites Mexico as a “center for money laundering” along with high ongoing rates of drug trafficking. But it also points to “signs of improvement” in the security situation in Mexico, where more than 50,000 people are estimated to have been killed in drug related violence since 2006.
Citing a “major Mexican newspaper,” the report maintains that “the annual number of organized crime-related homicides through November 2012 declined by an estimated 19 percent from 2011” in Mexico. The report adds, however, that the decline may only reflect a downturn in violence in the Mexican state of Chihuahua, since “shifting patterns of violence” led to higher homicide rates elsewhere in the nation.
Describing U.S.-Mexico counternarcotics cooperation as “unprecedented,” the report maintains that $1.1 billion in aid from Washington has “boosted Mexican efforts to bring to justice leaders of transnational criminal organizations.”
“That success, however, has also resulted in smaller, fractured organizations that have violently attempted to consolidate their power,” the report states.
On Afghanistan, meanwhile, the report says “smuggling of heroin into India from Afghanistan and Pakistan continued to increase in 2012” and that “drug-trafficking organizations in India use human couriers and commercial package services to send illicit drugs overseas, both to Europe and the Americas.”
With U.S. military forces preparing to exit from Afghanistan in 2014, the nation’s ongoing and high level illicit drug production remains a subject of debate in the world’s foreign policy and counterterrorism circles — since profits from the illicit drug trade have for years been known to finance international terrorism.

An introductory section of the report outlines how “nearly all” of Afghanistan’s opium cultivation is now occurring in the war-torn nation’s southern and western provinces. The report sites progress in the effort to beat back opium growth in Helmand Province — Afghanistan’s largest cultivation area — but states that overall poppy cultivation in across Afghanistan actually “increased by 57 percent” between 2011 and 2012.
The world’s next biggest opium cultivator is Myanmar. Claims by the Myanmar government that its officials have destroyed an increasing amount of opium crop “cannot be verified,” State Department officials said.
The report names Burma as one of the three nations to have “failed demonstrably during the previous 12 months to adhere to their obligations under international counternarcotics agreements.” But the U.S. posture toward Burma has softened dramatically during the past year, as the nation’s leaders have undertaken significant democratic reforms.  
The report calls for similar waivers to be granted to Venezuela and Bolivia on grounds that U.S. support for programs aiding the three nations are “vital to the national interests of the United States.”
The report cites a lack of counternarcotics coordination with Venezuelan authorities and states that “as in prior years, the United States remains prepared to deepen cooperation with Venezuela to help counter the increasing flow of cocaine and other illegal drugs transiting Venezuelan territory.”
Venezuela remains a major transit country for cocaine shipments via aerial, terrestrial, and maritime routes,” the report states. “The vast majority of illicit narcotics that transited Venezuela during 2012 were destined for the Eastern Caribbean, Central America, the United States, West Africa and Europe.”
With regard to Bolivia, the report maintains that “most Bolivian cocaine flows to other Latin American countries, especially Brazil, for domestic consumption or onward transit to West Africa and Europe.”
“Approximately 1 percent of cocaine seized and tested in the United States originates in Bolivia,” the report states.


  1. Now, here's an area where the Libertarians can actually 'make sense.'

  2. The Islamic Republic of Iran has strengthened the security of its border with Afghanistan to fight drug trafficking, Press TV reports.


    The war on drug trade originating from Afghanistan has claimed the lives of nearly 4,000 Iranian police officers over the past 33 years.

  3. so under obama both Iraq and Afghanistan will be completely wild, savage and out of control.

    just how many Americans died and or were wounded to pull out and achieve nothing?

    how much did it cost?

    who will be the last American to loose an limb, eye or a life for a shithole that obama tripled the troops for, the important war?

    and you call me stupid...

  4. The head of Russia's Federal Service for Narcotics Control has told a UN commission that poppy cultivation in Afghanistan has grown by 18 percent.


    He added that the illegal Afghan drug trade over those nearly 12 years has been worth some $1 trillion.

  5. .

    The report, which the State Department quietly released and submitted to Congress last week...

    Quietly? You have to wonder why they weren't loudly announcing their recent or even past successes.

    Perhaps it was facts like these.

    Many believe it was in fact the CIA wanting to prod the USSR into invading Afghanistan that actually started the opium trade in Afghanistan.

    Prior to our invasion of Afghanistan, the Taliban wiped out most of the opium trade in Afghanistan since they said growing poppies was un-Islamic. The Taliban program was one of the most effective anti-drug programs ever.

    As a result of this ban, in 2001 prior to the U.S invasion, poppy cultivation was reduced by 91 per cent from the previous year. The ban was so effective that Helmand Province, which had accounted for more than half of this production, recorded no poppy cultivation during the 2001 season.

    The UN Office on Drugs and Crime estimated that the 2006 harvest was around 6,100 tons, 33 times its level in 2001, a 3,200 per cent increase in five years.

    Last year poppy cultivation was up 7% and opium production was up 61% according to the UN.


    1. and the implication is, what?, support the Taliban?

    2. .

      Lord, Ash, you are obtuse.

      How you make connections in that mind of yours is something to watch.

      Or were you merely trying to be funny?


    3. The fact that Opium production is way up in Afghanistan since the US invaded is often used as a point against the invasion with many, you Quirk included, noting that under the Taliban there was virtually no opium production.

      Similarly, many folk, Deuce included, have pointed to the fact that some 'unsavory' characters are now thriving in Libya since Ghaddafi was overthrown, or that the Iranian allied Shia have succeeded in Iraq since the US overthrew Saddam or that there are also 'unsavory' characters involved in the Syrian revolution. While all of this is true how should these 'fact' govern our actions? Should we have left Saddam and Ghaddafi in power? Should we support Assad in Syria? I think these 'facts' should have little influence on our position. We should not support the Taliban because opium production was kept low. We should not support Ghaddafi because muslim extremists also did not like him and we should not support Assad in Syria because there are muslim extremists against him.

    4. .

      As I said, Ash, your thought processes and the connections you formulate, the conclusions you draw are a wonder to behold.

      The point of this stream is illegal drug production around the world. My post talked specifically of illegal drugs in Afghanistan. The point of my comment above was that prior to the US invasion there was minimal poppy and/or opium production going on in Afghanistan. You evidently took that as my endorsement of the Taliban rather than an indictment of the incompetence of the US effort.

      There is nothing to praise the Taliban about. In fact, shortly after the US invasion it was the Taliban that encouraged the ramping up of poppy production to today's levels, first as a blow against the US and secondly to finance their own operations. They take their cut directly off the top. Nothing to praise there. I would offer that your assuming that criticism of the US effort in Afghanistan is tantamount to praise of a Taliban, a regime noted primarily for abuse of women and children and the blowing up archeological monuments, is merely the obvious result of a simple mind.

      You make the same mistake with regard to Saddam, Ghadaffi, and Assad. No one here 'supports or supported' any of these people. The fact that most here now say that our efforts in taking them out were not justified given the price we paid seems to bother you. The fact that we complain of US actions in these instances translates in that troubled mind of yours as "support" for those regimes. Simplistic and illogical.

      We also saw your thinking processes the other day when you cited a silly, rather petty Mo Dowd column that complained about the 'appearances', the visuals of the Catholic hierarchy. Using your own special mental manipulation you came to the conclusion that it was actually saying that "there was more homosexuality among the Catholic hierarchy than among the general population".

      Just plain silly stuff, Ash.

      Should we have left Saddam and Ghaddafi in power?

      Since I am against wars of choice, my answer is yes, especially given the incompetence with which we entered and conducted these conflicts.

      Should we support Assad in Syria?

      Support? Your lack of mental acuity, of nuance puts you in the same class as those who assume that when one criticizes Obama it necessarily means that the person is 'supporting' the GOP, or the opposite if he happens to criticize the GOP.

      It appears life is too complicated to be encompassed within your simplistic worldview.


    5. .

      As Mad Magazine might say, THIMK!


  6. NATO Kills Afghan Actor in Southwest Airstrike

    Militants Captured Actor on Suspicion of Spying
    by Jason Ditz, March 10, 2013

    Afghan actor Nazar Mohammad Helmandi, the star of more than a dozen films, is dead today after being killed in a NATO airstrike. Local police in the Helmand Province confirmed his death, along with three militants.

    Helmandi was visiting his sister on the outskirts of the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah when he was kidnapped by the militants, of an unnamed faction, who accused him of being a spy for government forces against the drug industry.

    This accusation likely stems directly from Helmandi’s film career, as his movies were overwhelmingly about the drug trade in southwestern Afghanistan. Helmandi was being interrogated at the time of the strike.

    NATO has yet to comment on the incident, which is sure to add to complaints about the number of civilians being killed in the occupation, and the apparent lack of care taken to ensure that civilians like Helmandi weren’t in the line of fire before attacking.


  7. The Really Ugly Stuff You Hear Little About
    Next Article → WEAPONS: Why Is It So Hard To Get A Decent Pistol
    March 12, 2013: Despite Afghan president Karzai demanding that American Special Forces cease operations in Wardak province (is west of the capital) last month, the U.S. is still there and investigating the Karzai accusations that the Special Forces were responsible for mistreatment (kidnapping, torture and murder) of Afghan civilians there. The Afghan government is demanding the investigations be completed in a few days but the Americans refuse to rush it. The Americans have already demonstrated that Afghan soldiers and police, which the Americans do not directly control, are often responsible for what Western media call atrocities but are the sort of nasty stuff Afghans have been doing to each other for thousands of years. There’s definitely a culture clash going on here. Karzai has admitted as much with recent public calls for Afghan troops and police to handle civilians more gently and not go old-school on them so frequently.

    The Wardak accusations (and similar ones) appear to be a Taliban Information War effort, in collusion with senior Afghan officials (including Karzai himself) to use false accusations of atrocities to generate media and diplomatic pressure to force American troops out of areas where the Taliban is taking a beating. This use of media manipulation and corrupt Afghan officials is one of the Taliban’s most promising tactics. The Taliban is trying this despite the fact that it’s widely known that 80 percent of civilian casualties and nearly all the acts that could be described as atrocities are carried out by the Taliban. This latest effort, involving president Karzai himself, is one of the boldest ever. In response the Americans are collecting lots of evidence of who did what to whom. Karzai can (and may well) declare all of the American evidence lies. After that the Taliban Information War offensive will continue.

    This incident is just one of many showing how much influence the drug gangs have in the government. Many senior members of the government have gotten rich off the drug trade, either via bribes or direct involvement. Karzai is also being loyal to the Pushtun tribes he came from and the drug gangs that have made the Karzai clan rich. This is not unusual behavior in Afghanistan, where getting ahead has often meant doing whatever you had to do. Tribal leaders will readily lie, cheat and steal when dealing with outsiders (as in outside the tribe, not just outside Afghanistan).

    Despite all this most tribal leaders (including Pushtun ones) see the Afghan government, and their NATO allies, as a better deal than the Taliban and the drug gangs. The Taliban imposes seemingly random lifestyle rules on locals, and even forces families to surrender daughters as wives for Taliban fighters (this built loyalty in the groom, but perpetual hostility from his new in-laws.) The Taliban often acts like bandits while t he drug gangs were always gangsters, and acted like it. The gangs have too much money, too much power and have corrupted their young recruits with a gangster lifestyle, and over a million Afghans are now drug addicts (usually opium). While some of the locals were getting rich off the drug trade, the majority want it gone.

  8. Afghan police 'sell weapons to Taliban, are addicted to drugs and kidnap and rape young boys'
    BBC documentary reveals harrowing corruption among Afghan officers
    Throws doubt on police's ability to secure nation after Coalition withdrawal

    PUBLISHED: 12:39 EST, 25 February 2013 | UPDATED: 07:37 EST, 26 February 2013

    Police in an area of Afghanistan where 109 British troops died and hundreds were wounded trying to secure peace are riddled with corruption, child abuse, drug taking, kidnap and murder, a devastating investigation by Panorama revealed last night.
    Weapons, ammunition and fuel paid for by UK taxpayers are being openly sold by Afghan officers - possibly to end-up with the Taliban - while senior police refuse to crackdown of the abuse of young boys by their officers.
    Some officers appear drug-addicted, others are kidnapping civilians for ransom while in the past five weeks, four boys suspected of having been used as 'sex slaves' have been shot - one in the face - while attempting to escape from police commanders believed to have abducted them from their families. Three have died.

    Read more:

  9. Good old Charlie Wilson and his fellow Bible thumping Christians Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan’s gift to the World , all in the name of Jesus. Praise the lord. Showed those godless atheists a thing or two.

    1. College Guy Bin Laden was reborn an Islamic Warrior.

  10. That's about a $60 Billion expenditure we could have done without this year.

  11. I'll link an interview w/a very thoughtful libertarian Calif. Cop.

    He's convinced the war on weed has done nothing but promote crime here and some violence, and mass violence and corruption in Mexico.

    On the homefront, he says most all of Humbolt county smells like weed in the summertime.
    Says we should be getting taxes on all that trade.

  12. Amazing fact:
    Only about 50 cops a year are killed in accidents and gunfire out of 200,000 cops!

  13. Solar Uptake is reaching 35% in parts of Australia.

    These are Not dumb people

  14. The last time U.S. factory workers put in longer weeks than they averaged in February, Rosie the Riveter was on the assembly line and American GIs were fighting Nazis in Europe.

    All those extra hours helped to drive five straight months of manufacturing growth in the U.S., racking up 52,000 new factory jobs, according to Labor Department data. That includes 14,000 positions in February alone.

    Less Firing, More Hiring, Longer Hours - Could be a "virtuous cycle" taking hold.

  15. .

    Vatican City — Argentine Jorge Bergoglio has been elected pope, the first ever from the Americas and the first from outside Europe in more than a millennium. He chose the name Pope Francis.

    From The Detroit News:


  16. Auto workers at a Ford Motor Co. plant in Belgium are set to decide on a severance offer from the company aimed at closing the facility and ending weeks of confrontation between unions and management.


    The outcome of the vote is uncertain.

  17. Although most Vatican watchers had been predicting a result by the end of the week, the election of a pope in just five votes – with the first on Tuesday evening – is not exceptional.

    The last four popes were all elected within two or three days. Seven ballots have been required on average over the last nine conclaves.

    Benedict was the clear front runner in 2005 and elected after only four ballots.

  18. Physics and economics are bedevilled by the phenomenon known as ''hysteresis''. It's where, once made, a change can't be easily undone.


    The number of middle-income Australians with benefits to lose has grown. They are better organised than low-income Australians, better able to use the political process and have entire industries such as superannuation and private health insurance behind them.