During the administration of President George W. Bush, reportage on the war in Afghanistan was merciless. Anything bad that happened in that country was attributed to Bush.
On Monday media began to report the beheadings and slashing of 17 civilians in Helmand Province.
The headers announcing that 17 were dead should’ve noted a higher body count. The BBC reported more dead—“10 Afghan army soldiers were killed in a Taliban attack in the same province.”
That total comes to 27 dead, and we’re still not finished.
The BBC also said:
In eastern Afghanistan, two US soldiers were shot dead by an Afghan National Army soldier.
Now we’re up to 29 on the total body count.
Don’t expect Democrat-friendly media to unleash their fury on President Barack Obama.
Media have claimed the 17 civilians were murdered because they decided to have a night of fun listening to music and dancing. Both activities are crimes in the eyes of the Taliban.
Helmand Province has been a sore spot in the war for years, partly because of poppy cultivation to supply the drug trade in Europe and Eurasia.
In February, 2012, Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) issued a statement:
In 2010, Afghanistan produced 74 percent of the world’s illegal opiate supply through the cultivation of poppy.
Feinstein and others lobbied for the U.S. to fund programs to give farmers an option :
I write to urge you to support the Afghan government in replacing poppy with sustainable crops by replicating the Helmand Food Zone in additional poppy-growing provinces in Afghanistan. It is essential to have as many alternative development projects on the ground as possible in Afghanistan before the U.S. withdrawal in 2014.
Feinstein had talked with an Afghan official who told her the food zone program worked.
Should such programs succeed, it would be a miracle. How do you gauge total poppy production in an area like Afghanistan? In this country, the poppy trade is part and parcel of the culture.
Are media reports accurate, or is there more to the story about the killings? Considering the quality of media reportage these days, it’s hard to get at the truth about anything.
For instance, compare Feinstein’s claims about the decrease in poppy production to information publicly available at the CIA World Fact Book:
[A] poppy blight affecting the high cultivation areas in 2010 reduced potential opium production to 3,200 metric tons, down over 40 percent from 2009…
Maybe the Afghans just want that U.S. taxpayer money. After all, the U.S. has become the largest charity in the world, with politicos eagerly redistributing U.S. taxpayer dollars.
The only safe conclusion that can be reached after reports about these killings is that most major media are reluctant to hold the Obama administration accountable by using the same standards applied to Bush, especially with Obama referencing dialog with those his administration naively calls “moderate Taliban.”
Are we better off supporting poppy eradication or paying farmers to grow legal crops as Feinstein suggested? Obama took a different tactic than Bush:
In 2009, the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point website featured an article that mentioned this:
The first meaningful step toward progress occurred in June 2009 when the government and coalition forces announced that they would no longer support poppy eradication. As stated by the U.S. envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, “eradication is a waste of money” and has only worked to drive Afghan farmers to the Taliban. The implication of this decision means that insurgent and narcotic leaders can no longer use poppy eradication as a rallying cry to recruit more insurgents.
Considering the ramped up violence, the U.S. may need to rethink current strategies.
(Commentary by Kay B. Day/Aug. 27, 2012)
Articles about Afghanistan (The US Report)
Updates and reports about international aid to Afghanistan (Helmand Provincial Reconstruction Team)
Backgrounder on Helmand Province (Naval Post Graduate School)