2000-2001: US gives Taliban-ruled Afghanistan $245 million in "aid."
In May 2001, US narcotics experts visited Taliban-controlled Afghanistan
for the first time. They found the Taliban had followed through
on Mullah Omar’s edict outlawing opium-poppy cultivation.
In 2000, Afghanistan produced 75%
of the world’s opium crop. The Taliban, which since coming
to power had used the money from the opium to purchase weapons,
had apparently stopped the poppy crop-all in less than a year
and with the help of their harsh punishments for farmers found in
violation of the ban. The Bush administration found this so satisfying
that they immediately pledged an additional
$43 million worth of aid to Afghanistan.
As the State
Department reported on October 15, 2001:
"The United States has been the single largest donor
of humanitarian aid for Afghans for the past several years. In
2000, the United States contributed a total of $113 million in
humanitarian aid to Afghans, both inside Afghanistan and in refugee
camps in neighboring countries. In 2001, the aid level has already
exceeded $184, accounting for some 300,000 tons of American food
sent to Afghanistan this year."
That’s almost $300 million in two years with the stated aim
of feeding the starving Afghani people.
To put this in perspective, Bangladesh-population
133 million (compared to Afghanistan’s
28 million people)-an equally impoverished country facing
similar catastrophic famines, received $100
million from the US in 2001. And that’s humanitarian and
economic aid combined, whereas the significantly higher amount of
aid given to Afghanistan ($6.57 per capita in Afghanistan, compared
to $.75 for each Bangladeshi) is only humanitarian. Both these countries
fall under the same watchful eye of the State
Department’s Bureau of South Asian Affairs.
Of course, Bangladesh has a government that is already fairly open
for foreign investment, and, until the United States replaced the
Taliban with a government led by an oil industry insider, Afghanistan
was led by a repressive regime totally isolated from the rest of
the world. Perhaps that isolation is the reason the United
States takes such pride in the help they’ve provided to
Afghanistan. By helping them, we were isolated, too!
"- - In 1999 the United States contributed over $70
million in assistance to the Afghan people. This year's total
of over $100 million covers food, housing, health and education
programs, de-mining and refugee assistance. Of every two dollars
of global assistance to Afghans, half is food aid; and of every
ten dollars, nine dollars is a United States contribution."
That’s right! No other country could even come close to our
generosity. And no other country was so eager to do business with
the Taliban. All this from the United States and its leaders who
have spent the last ten years blocking humanitarian aid to Iraq
because of fears that Saddam Hussein might be redirecting the aid
to feed his family and elite guard. So why did we trust the repressive
Taliban not to redirect their humanitarian aid, while we continually
tried to keep the Iraqi people from receiving aid? Because we’ve
been waiting for years to build a pipeline from Turkmenistan through
Afghanistan into Pakistan and India. That’s why the Taliban
visited Texas in 1997 when George Bush was governor, and that’s
why US oil companies continued to meet with the Taliban to negotiate
this pipeline deal through the late ‘90s.
Then, on February 5, 2001, there was a headline in the London Times:
"Taleban offers US deal to deport bin Laden." The article
The Taleban authorities will consider exiling Osama bin Laden,
the Saudi-born terrorist believed to be behind the World Trade
Centre bombing, to a third country if they receive assurances
that the West will recognise them as Afghanistan's legitimate
Senior Taleban leaders said their main fear was that the
US and other Western countries would continue to ostracise their
administration even if bin Laden left Afghanistan. "We hope
the new American Administration will be more flexible and engage
with us," Abdul Wakil Muttawakil, the Foreign Minister, told
The Times. He has written to President Bush. The rigid Islamic
rulers are being squeezed hard by United Nations sanctions.
The announcement came six days after the Bush Administration announced
the formation of the energy
task force headed by Dick Cheney to determine the administration’s
energy policy. Three months later, the United States pledges $43
million in humanitarian aid. Almost two years later, we still
have no idea what Cheney and Ken Lay and their oil industry
buddies discussed in their task
Meanwhile, the opium has never really stopped. Yes, the Taliban
stopped poppy cultivation, but that didn’t affect them because
they maintained huge stockpiles which they continued
to sell until the US chased them out of the country-or
really, out of power. Now, under Hamid Karzai, the poppy production
is booming again, and hundreds of kilos are being produced
But there is a bright side to all this: There’s a deal to
build a pipeline
UPDATE: Afghanistan is again the world's leading heroin supplier.