Poppy Fields of Helmand - The real Cost

#1
The MoD reports that the Government has spent £280 million on anti-narcotics operations in Afghanistan. There have also been 71 deaths of British Servicemen since 2001.
Why are we spending this obscene amount of money and putting young peoples lives on the line fighting against opium production there when we are growing it in the fields of Oxfordshire?
For the majority of Helmands farmers, the poppy is the only money making crop they can grow with any certainty, so it's no wonder they take it badly and therefore tacitly support the taliban.
We should be supporting the Afghans by legitimising the growth and sale through formalised channels, and then using the harvest to cover the lack of opiates for European medicines.
British farmers don't need to grow this plant, Afghans do and we can help each other mutually. It will also stop the drug from finding it's way onto our streets if responsible governments take over the production and supply.
 

Biped

LE
Book Reviewer
#2
hoodie said:
The MoD reports that the Government has spent £280 million on anti-narcotics operations in Afghanistan. There have also been 71 deaths of British Servicemen since 2001.
Why are we spending this obscene amount of money and putting young peoples lives on the line fighting against opium production there when we are growing it in the fields of Oxfordshire?
For the majority of Helmands farmers, the poppy is the only money making crop they can grow with any certainty, so it's no wonder they take it badly and therefore tacitly support the taliban.
We should be supporting the Afghans by legitimising the growth and sale through formalised channels, and then using the harvest to cover the lack of opiates for European medicines.
British farmers don't need to grow this plant, Afghans do and we can help each other mutually. It will also stop the drug from finding it's way onto our streets if responsible governments take over the production and supply.
A bit like Air America then? :twisted:
 
#3
And Northamptonshire and Lincolnshire.

May come as a surprise to many people to learn that the UK is somewhat unusual in that that it allows the use of Diamorphine (aka Heroin) for theraputic use. In many parts of the world it simply does not happen and they stick to Morphine or alternates. (So kind of odd when you think of the huge fuss about using cannabis in treating multiple sclerosis)

There is an ongoing shortage of Diamorphine and a big licenced manufacturer in the UK. It does seem to make make sense to secure a local source of supply rather than rely on what is a very volatile region.
 
#5
Hoodie wrote "It will also stop the drug from finding it's way onto our streets if responsible governments take over the production and supply"
Drug dealers are very attracted to the drug for financial reasons. They have the ability to outbid any QUANGO. They have the ability in country to use violence or threat thereof to force growers and initial distributers to deal with them. Transfer of customers is not just a contractual matter.
 
#6
OldRedCap said:
Hoodie wrote "It will also stop the drug from finding it's way onto our streets if responsible governments take over the production and supply"
Drug dealers are very attracted to the drug for financial reasons. They have the ability to outbid any QUANGO. They have the ability in country to use violence or threat thereof to force growers and initial distributers to deal with them. Transfer of customers is not just a contractual matter.
Agreed. Also, if you give away the drug away free to addicts, as some have suggested, this will be very expensive. If you force druggies to pay, they will keep stealing to fund their habit; cutting drug crime is the only logical reason for leagalising drugs. The health of junkies is irrelevent. They are worthless creatures who are better of dead.

Personally, I'd like to pull every soldier out and let the USAF bomb every single inch of the country. Then sow the ground with salt. But you know how people get upset as soon as you mention genocide - even when it's a perfectly logical solution. :roll:
 
#7
Also, if you give away the drug away free to addicts, as some have suggested, this will be very expensive.
Cheaper than the cost of crime that occurs when they have to pay for it.

The health of junkies is irrelevent. They are worthless creatures who are better of dead.
Not true. Like it or not, they are human beings that are dependent upon a chemical substance. Not to mention, the healthier you keep them, the less the cost of their treatments on the NHS, again, saving more money and ensuring less suffering into the bargain.
 
#8
But not cheaper than a single round to the back of a junkies head...

Junkies are not human. They are SUB-human, and should be treated as such.

We recently slaughtered several hundred cattle who were infected by Foot and Mouth. We should treat junkies the same way.
 
#9
Buying the opium off the (illegal) growers is often suggested as a solution to the drug problem. You need to remember that the growers can't just sell to the highest bidder like a British farmer. If they don't sell to the local drug barons, they're likely to end up dead.

I fear that a spectacular quantity of paraquat will be required in order to remove the poppies from Afghanistan. As heroin is now cheaper and more plentiful than ever, I'd be interested to know what the £280 million has been spent on.
 
#10
Blogg said:
And Northamptonshire and Lincolnshire.
...
Odd you mention Lincolnshire. I read a paper a while ago on the Victorian opiate addiction, far more widespread than it is now. A jolt laudanum available without prescription and taken freely by those that had piously signed the pledge was what kept Fenland folk going. Barbiturates and big brother will probably kill you faster.
 
#11
Junkies are not human. They are SUB-human, and should be treated as such.
Does that include former squaddies who came out of the Army, and found themselves homeless, and turned to drink or smack, then? Just wondering. You're classifying addicts as if that's all they ever were. The point is, not all are the uberworthless scum you seem to think they are, some made a contribution to society before they were addicts, some can make a contribution during their addiction and some go on to make a contribution after.

Nazi rhetoric about subhumans belongs in the past.
 

the_boy_syrup

LE
Book Reviewer
#15
From todays Mail

British troops on the front line in Afghanistan are suffering the highest fatality rate since the Second World War after a dramatic escalation in fighting in recent weeks.


Soldiers are being killed in such numbers that if the current level continues the losses will be greater than among U.S. troops in Vietnam.

One in 36 would not survive a six-month tour of duty - a more chilling toll than experienced in the Falklands or the Korean War.

Both the Tories and the Lib-Dems yesterday called on Prime Minister Gordon Brown urgently to review his policy in Afghanistan before the death toll worsens.

'We shouldn't have to pay to send food parcels to our troops' says angry mum
The figures came as the Foreign Office revealed that this year's opium crop in Afghanistan is expected to be a record-breaker, suggesting that Nato troops have lost control of the region.

The latest British soldier to die in Afghanistan was a serviceman from 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment, who was killed on Saturday during an attack on a patrol base in Helmand Province.

He was the seventh British fatality since July 12, and the fourth since last Monday, compared with a monthly average of 0.7 deaths since the conflict began in November 2001.

If the current death toll is sustained, 42 troops will die over a six-month period, or one in 36 of the 1,500 men serving as frontline troops in the battle against the Taliban.

The situation in Iraq is little better, with the current death rate of five personnel from the 1,500-strong battle group equating to one in 50 for a sixmonth tour. Scroll down for more

By comparison, British troops serving in the Falklands would have had a one in 45 chance of being killed if the war had continued for six months, and one in 58 of British troops who fought in Korea were killed.

Even the notorious Vietnam war claimed a smaller percentage of the lives of those who served in uniform, around one in 46. Deaths among servicemen in the Second World War ran at one in 19.

Tory MP Patrick Mercer, a former commanding officer of the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters, which has lost three men in Afghanistan, said: "For people serving in certain regiments at the moment, this is the sort of casualty rate which hasn't been seen since World War Two.

"We are talking about a very small number of units that are taking the brunt of the casualties, and every man in each battalion will know every single man who has been killed.

"Meanwhile the Government has continued to make defence cuts, with three more battalions recently disbanded, which means that these sixmonth tours will come around more and more frequently."

LibDem leader Sir Menzies Campbell said the Government needed to review its strategy in both Iraq and Afghanistan "before the death toll rises further."

He added: "These statistics are deeply saddening, above all because they represent personal tragedies for hundreds of British families.

"But they are also an indictment of a Government which has no clear idea how to get British forces home without further heavy loss of life."

Although the total number of personnel currently serving in Afghanistan is around 6,000, all seven of the casualties over the past month have come from the 1,500 frontline soldiers trying to defeat the Taliban.

The ferocity of the conflict in Afghanistan has escalated dramatically in recent weeks. From 2001 to the end of 2005 five British personnel died there; in 2006 the figure was 39, and so far this year 26 have died.

In Iraq, meanwhile, five personnel from the 1,500-strong battle group have died in the past month, equating to 30 deaths over a six-month period, or one in 50.

Taking into account all 5,500 British service personnel currently serving in Iraq, the death toll for the past month is nine, the equivalent of one in 102 of all personnel being killed during a six-month tour of duty.

Four servicemen were killed in Iraq last week alone, bringing the total this year to 41.

In 2003, the year of the invasion, the total death toll was 53. The average death toll since the Iraq war began in 2003 is 2.5 per month.

Meanwhile the Foreign Office revealed that opium poppy production in Afghanistan is spiralling out of control under the noses of British troops.

Sources said this summer's crop - the world's main source of heroin - would exceed last year's total, despite efforts to crack down on the trade, which helps to fund the Taliban.

Defence Secretary Des Browne said a "long-term commitment" in Afghanistan is essential to prevent its return to a training ground for terrorists, and insisted progress was being made.
 
#16
I guess we're caught between a rock and a hard place with this one. We can't buy the crop from the Afghan farmers because we know the Taliban "tax" the farmers, in "protection money".
To really win the hearts and minds of the locals we can't go around destroying the only viable source of income available to them.
Perhaps if we set up a welfare state for them and paid each head of family a few dollars/euros a month, say enough to buy food for the family for a month, we may get a population that's more disposed to the forces on the ground trying to help them. Could that work?
 

Biped

LE
Book Reviewer
#17
hoodie said:
I guess we're caught between a rock and a hard place with this one. We can't buy the crop from the Afghan farmers because we know the Taliban "tax" the farmers, in "protection money".
To really win the hearts and minds of the locals we can't go around destroying the only viable source of income available to them.
Perhaps if we set up a welfare state for them and paid each head of family a few dollars/euros a month, say enough to buy food for the family for a month, we may get a population that's more disposed to the forces on the ground trying to help them. Could that work?
How would you fund such an activity? Laudable as it is, they have no oil to trade for such extravagances, and nor does the MOD have a budget for it.

The fact of the matter is, it's a rocky place, growing low value crops is only worth it for local consumption, unless it's smack. As far as I know (which is little indeed), they have no natural resources, and are thus going to be a poor country for the foreseeable future.

If a government can be put in place and supported that could find alternatives to the lucrative drugs trade, and the wherewithal to enforce it in the manner of the region (through bl00dy-minded harshness a la taliban) then that would seem the lesser of such evils; until of course another bunch of planes came flying into towerblocks in the west.

One wonders whether selling stinger missiles to the Mujahadeen was such a good idea in the first place.
 
#18
How would I fund such activity?
Most of the poppy growing is done on the fertile plains on the banks of the Helmand river. (mmm, bit of a co-incidence we're there?).
I suggest that £280million /$532million spent so far would go a long way to pacifying the 745'000 locals in Helmand province for a long time. Don't forget that the 745'000 is total fig so I guess that probably leaves approx 125'000 heads of family?
Average wage is $70-100. Once the maths is done, you can see that actually there's plenty of money available to make a real difference.
So, That's where I'd get the money.
 
#19
Just as a footnote, I seem to recall the Millenium Dome cost approx £680million.
 

Biped

LE
Book Reviewer
#20
hoodie said:
Just as a footnote, I seem to recall the Millenium Dome cost approx £680million.
Don't start knocking the Millenium Dome son - that was a worthy thing (allegedly).

If 270m is such a drop in the ocean, why, as a matter of interest, is the UN not doing it? That warrants investigating, unless of course you consider that the UN abjectly fails to stop any form of wrong, anywhere in the world, despite having a budget that FAR exceeds that GDP of Afghanistan.
 

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