Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

Solving America’s Opioid Crisis

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, November 29, 2017

In a recent Press Conference, USAG Jeff Sessions said POS45 “asked her [Kellyanne Conway] to coordinate and lead the [opioid crisis response] effort from the White House,” saying she was “exceedingly talented,” noting a minor DEA Field Office reorganization was underway.
ref: https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/attorney-general-sessions-and-acting-dea-administrator-patterson-announce-new-tools-address-0

As a licensed Healthcare Professional with immense interest in Public Health and related Public Policy, I have followed the aggressive increase in this epidemic for many years. And, I remain highly negatively critical of the Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, Bush II and Obama administrations for chronic, abject failure to stop it, and of the Trump administration’s ongoing failure to effectively utilize American diplomacy to stop it.

Here’s why.

To be clear, full understanding of this matter requires understanding the complex nature of ALL interrelated & intersecting measures, including history & background. This matter also directly includes International Terrorism.

For many years, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC) has tracked the world’s predominant grower of opium poppy, which is used to make illicit narcotics – NOT prescription medications. (I specifically differentiate between the words “drugs” to describe illicit substances, and “medicine” to describe prescription treatments.)

Afghanistan remains the world’s greatest supplier of opium for heroin & illicit narcotics production. In their “World Drug Report 2010” (WDR), the UNDOC noted the global complexity of the matter, and wrote that “there is a need to better understand these transnational markets and the manner in which they operate.”
ref: https://www.unodc.org/documents/wdr/WDR_2010/World_Drug_Report_2010_lo-res.pdf

The 2016 WDR noted that “global opium production in 2015 fell by 38% from the previous year to some 4,770 tons, i.e., to the levels of the late 1990s. The decrease was primarily a consequence of a decline in opium production in Afghanistan (a decrease of 48% from the previous year), mainly as a result of poor yields in the country’s southern provinces. However, at 183,000 hectares, Afghanistan still accounted for almost 66% of the global area under illicit opium poppy cultivation, which decreased by 11% from the previous year to around 281,000 hectares.”

From 1979 to 1989, through Operation Cyclone, initiated largely by late former Texas U.S. Rep. Charlie Wilson (D) (1933-2010), America was involved in repelling what he characterized as communism’s last stand in Afghanistan.

Throughout the Muslim world, Afghanistan’s victory over Russia’s modern superpower was considered a transformative event. They perception that Allah had provided victory, rather than the billions that America and Saudi Arabia had poured into the 10-year CIA-led effort.

After the Russians left, America imposed sanctions on Afghanistan, all military and economic assistance was cut off, and inside a year, the Clinton administration placed Pakistan on the list of state sponsors of terrorism.

By late 1993, there were no roads or schools in Afghanistan, only a decimated, obliterated, bombed-out country while the United States washed its hands of any responsibility. And in that vacuum, the Taliban and Osama bin Laden emerged as dominant players. Ironically, bin Laden came to personify the power of jihad, though he had had almost nothing to do with the victory over the Red Army.

Following the 9-11 attacks on the World Trade Center, the Bush administration gained enormous traction by assailing the Taliban for harboring Osama bin Laden and for allowing Afghanistan to become a breeding ground for international terrorists.

But before he died, Wilson said in part about the end of communism, that “I truly believe that this caused the Berlin Wall to come down a good five, maybe 10 years before it would have otherwise. At least 100 million Eastern Europeans are breathing free today, to say nothing of the Russian people. It’s the truth, and all those people who are enjoying those freedoms have no idea of the part played by a million Afghan ghosts. To this day no one has ever thanked them.

“They removed the threat we all went to sleep with every night, of World War III breaking out. The countries that used to be in the Warsaw Pact are now in NATO. These were truly changes of biblical proportions, and the effect the jihad had in accelerating these events is nothing short of miraculous.

“These things happened. They were glorious and they changed the world. And the people who deserved the credit are the ones who made the sacrifice. And then we fucked up the endgame.”

Here’s where the “endgame” failed.

Afghanistan was literally obliterated by 10 years of continuous war & bombing. Combined with the fact that the land is mountainous, arid, largely infertile, and climatically hostile, it presented significant problems for the people to feed themselves or their livestock. Only 58% of the land has any agricultural production value, and of that, only 20% is arable. According to the CIA World Factbook, Afghanistan has a TOTAL area of 652,230 square kilometers (“slightly smaller than Texas”), of which 58.07% is Agricultural land, and of that 20.5% is arable land. That leaves only 77, 643 square km for possible agricultural production. Current environmental problems include: Limited natural freshwater resources; inadequate supplies of potable water; soil degradation; overgrazing; deforestation (much of the remaining forests are being cut down for fuel and building materials); desertification; air and water pollution.

Because desperate people will do desperate things to survive, when the Taliban came knocking at the door for farmers to grow the opium poppy and marijuana telling them that it’s easier to grow, and that they would make more money than by growing wheat, corn, or any other crop, they doubled down.

However, that didn’t solve their, or their livestock’s starvation problem. But it sure helped the Taliban and other terrorist organizations.

Instead, what America SHOULD HAVE DONE, and STILL SHOULD DO, is to utilize the United States Departments State, and of Agriculture (USDOS) (USDA) to INVEST into Afghani farmers the knowledge and resources to become agriculturally self-sufficient… because that’s all they really wanted, anyway – to feed themselves, and their livestock.

As anyone knows, it’s nigh impossible to sit down and enjoy a meal with one’s enemy. And rather, it’s friends who eat together.

And seeing that this administration is dead-set upon incarceration and penalization rather than treatment and resolution of UNDERLYING PROBLEMS, I do NOT foresee any successful conclusion or amelioration of this problem in the United States.

Rather, I foresee an exponential increase in narcotics deaths, prison populations, increases in states’ budgets and costs associated with enforcement, judicial, and parole systems, increased costs of lawsuits for wretchedly inhumane conditions, increased costs for medical treatments -AND- and increase in Global Terrorism.

And to think… we could’ve saved money, had friends, instead of enemies, by simply teaching them how to care for the land.

When WILL America ever learn?

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