[Above image: a seedhead of Opium Poppy Papaver somniferum with white latex]
Despite $8.2 billion U.S. tax dollars poured into counternarcotics efforts in Afghanistan, that country remains the world's leader in the illicit opium trade. That's according to a new report just released from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.
Not only does Afghanistan produce opium for much of the world, its own population remains hopelessly addicted to drugs in larger proportions than other nations, despite U.S. efforts and money intended to turn things around.
[box style="rounded"]Despite billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars for Afghanistan's counter narcotics efforts, 31% of households and 9% of children in Afghanistan tested positive for one or more drugs in a recent survey.[/box]
According to the Inspector General report, "opioids are the most popular drugs in Afghanistan, with higher usage in rural areas than urban centers...cannabis was used in 11% of households and 3% of the population. However, the major findings were that 31% of households, more than 10% of people and approximately 9%of children surveyed tested positive for one or more drugs."
The quarterly report says Congress has appropriated a total of nearly $110 billion U.S. tax dollars for Afghanistan reconstruction since 2002.
Inspector General John Sopko has outlined multiple cases of U.S. taxpayer waste, fraud and abuse in Afghanistan. For example, "$157.4 million in U.S.-purchased equipment for the Afghan National Army (ANA), was not transferred to the ANA and has been scrapped."
Another highlight of the report states that the ISIS terrorist group has spread into Afghanistan, although the Defense Department states it is currently “nascent and relatively small."