Saturday, August 16, 2003

This story on Afghanistan was in a tiny box in yesterday's New York Times, with no byline. It didn't even get its own link online (scroll down):

The amount of land dedicated to growing the illicit opium poppy, which is the raw material for opium and heroin, jumped to 76,000 acres last year, according to State Department figures. Officials said the numbers continue to rise as growers take advantage of the limited reach of law enforcement under the fledgling government of President Karzai. Afghanistan is the world's largest producer of opium.

By contrast, in 2001, when the Taliban controlled the country and enforced an opium ban, only 4,200 acres were cultivated, according to the State Department's International Narcotics Control Strategy Report.

Donald Rumsfeld responded to this in his usual Wally-Cleaver-meets-General-Buck-Turgidson manner:

A surge in opium cultivation in Afghanistan is "a whale of a tough problem" that defies easy solutions, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said today.

Gee whillikers, yes, it is, isn't it?

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