Unintended Consequences

Afghanistan is by far the world’s leading producer of opium and heroin (produced from opium).  Over 80% of the world’s opium originates in Afghanistan.

During the Taliban’s brief reign in Afghanistan, it declared opiate production to be contrary to Islam and managed to essentially eliminate the production of opium there. Afghan poppy production was almost entirely wiped out and the world’s heroin supply fell by 75%.

But with the U.S. invasion opium production returned with a vengeance. Opium production is now higher than ever and growing every year (despite billions of dollars spent by the U.S. to suppress it).  Drug use has skyrocketed in Afghanistan, doubling over the past two years. The sudden influx of cheap heroin has also led to an epidemic of heroin addiction in Europe and the U.S., resulting in thousands of deaths each year. And ironically perhaps, the enormous wealth being generated from the narcotics trade now funds the Taliban’s continuing insurgency.

I suppose one could make the case that it is better to have increased heroin production than to have the Taliban.

But now, of course, we have both.

The civil war, violence and fanaticism that emerged in the aftermath of the war in Iraq generates new horrifying headlines nearly every day.  I don’t think the war planners intended to create an environment for terrorism that makes Saddam Hussein seem tame by comparison, but that’s what happened.

And likewise I don’t think those who planned the Afghanistan war intended to create the environment for record levels of heroin production, addictions and deaths, but that’s what happened.

And, sadly, those environments were paid for with a lot of American blood and treasure.


12 comments on “Unintended Consequences

  1. nebraskadave says:

    Bill, hmmmm, didn’t know any of this. What a sad story. Addiction has not only killed but destroyed many lives through out the last century and this one as well. Not only are there illegal drugs such as those you spoke about but legal prescription drugs abound as well. Our entire nation has been medicated in one way or another. I’m not saying all medication is bad. I’m on a couple myself for blood pressure. It seems that our culture is bent on being addicted to some thing. The list is not only filled with drugs but also social media, TV, video games, or phone texting. Well, I guess you could say that I’m addicted to gardening. 😉 Hmmmm, I guess it might be said that there are good addictions and bad addictions. That’s an interesting thought.

    Have a great Virginia day at the market garden.


    • Bill says:

      You’re right about addictions. We live in a culture that gives us a large menu of addictions to choose from. I often feel that we live in a culture addicted to violence as well.

      We will resume regularly scheduled programming tomorrow. 🙂


  2. ain't for city gals says:

    Unintended….I’m not sure about that. And yes, now we have both. I just watched the movie Kill The Messenger and it just makes me realize I know nothing about anything.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Joanna says:

    The warmongering worries me too. When I read much of Putin and what he is supposedly up to, I am afraid that most of the rhetoric about fighting back comes out of America. I know there is a lot said about defence here in the Baltics too, but that is understandable and people are nervous, but I would rather people toned down the inferences.


    • Bill says:

      We the only tool you own is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail.

      Things like this tend to cause me to question my optimism. But in the end I choose to believe that we are heading in the right direction, even if we don’t always take the most direct path. May the day soon arrive when we look back on our warmongering past in wonder and embarrassment.


      • Joanna says:

        My optimism wavers at times too, but all I can think of is we pray “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven” and if that is what we are told to pray then maybe we should be looking for more Heaven on earth 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  4. The thing that is most tragic is that opium is their only crop, so even though people don’t want to work in the opium fields, it’s often the only way of making a living to feed their families. (good article here: https://news.vice.com/article/afghanistans-opium-economy-is-doing-better-than-ever)

    My husband and I are firm believers in decriminalization/legalization of all drugs, with government regulation to keep the prices down, reduce the violence involved, tax the growers (imagine if the opium trade were taxed!), and tax money to focus on prevention and treatment instead of imprisoning. I’ve known enough people who’ve struggled with the drug to know that when they try to get help, they’re put on waiting lists or charged so much to get in to treatment centers that it’s cheaper to use.

    I wonder what would happen if we put all our money trying to eradicate drugs and users/dealers into treating the root cause of so much of drug addiction: the desire to escape sadness and numb the pain. Imagine…


    • Bill says:

      I’m with you and I sympathize with the people trying desperately to make a living. And I think people should have the liberty to do whatever they want with their lives as long as it doesn’t hurt others. That includes the liberty to choose heroin addiction. But I detest the notion that we’re being taxed to fund wars that increase heroin use and overdose deaths.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. EllaDee says:


    Google searching the term “is the war in Afghanistan about heroin” brings up numerous hits.

    That’s quite a credibility question… mark.


    • Bill says:

      I have so little respect for “the government” that I consider them incapable of managing a conspiracy. In our system the first snitch who jumped overboard would make a fortune selling the story.

      Now I am sure that the international heroin business was very much in favor of the war and has profited immensely from it. I have no doubt they pulled all the strings available to them.


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