Drug War Gets in the Way of Real War in Afghanistan

by Sean Hackbarth

Steven Taylor links to a Time magazine story about misplaced priorities in the Islamist War. In 2005 Afghan tribal leader Haji Bashar Noorzai was in a New York City hotel talking to the U.S. government giving them information on terrorist subjects and the current state of Afghanistan. He told Time, “I did not want to be considered an enemy of the United States. I wanted to help the Americans and to help the new government in Afghanistan.”

So what did our government do? They arrested him for being a heroin kingpin:

As he got up to leave, ready to be escorted to the airport to catch a flight back to Pakistan, one of the agents in the room told him he wasn’t going anywhere. That agent, who worked for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), told him that a grand jury had issued a sealed indictment against Noorzai 3 1/2 months earlier and that he was now under arrest for conspiring to smuggle narcotics into the U.S. from Afghanistan. An awkward silence ensued as the words were translated into his native Pashtu. “I did not believe it,” Noorzai later told TIME from his prison cell. “I thought they were joking.” The previous August, an American agent he had met with said the trip to the U.S. would be “like a vacation.”

Today, Noorzai, 43, sits in a small cell in the high-security section of Manhattan’s Metropolitan Correctional Center, awaiting a trial that may still be months away. But whatever his fate, the Case of the Cooperative Kingpin raises larger questions about America’s needs, goals and instincts in fighting its two shadow wars: the war on terrorism and the war on drugs. The question that continues to haunt U.S. policymakers in this long struggle is, When do you bend the rules for one to help the other? Afghanistan is where these two battles converge, as the runoff from the $3 billion opium trade helps pay for the guns and bombs being deployed against U.S. and NATO forces.

We have a chance to befriend a powerful Afghan tribesman who wants to bring stability to his country while knocking off our Islamist enemies. An imperfect ally sure, but it demonstrates a set of misplaced priorities. The Islamist War is a hot war where terrorists and insurgents strike daily to keep Afghanistan and Iraq unstable and a haven to launch attacks against the West. The Drug War is a decades-long crusade to stop the supply of substances demanded by U.S. drug users. There will be plenty of time to worry about kicking America’s drug habit–legal and illegal–after the direct Islamist threat against our lives and liberty has abated.

“Warlord or Druglord?”

[I linked to Steven Taylor's post.]

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6 Responses to “Drug War Gets in the Way of Real War in Afghanistan”

1

heh heh.

The far left coming to the realization it was bamboozled by Pelosi&Co (who, as we all knew, had no clue what to do).

It’s a going to be a marvelous show watching the door fall off when unhinged left loses the other hinge.

2

Um, huh?

What the hell does this story have to do with Democrats or Republicans?

3

MjM must be commenting on the post after this one where Matt Stoller has already ran out of patience with the Democratic Congress.

4

er, ahem. ya. Sorry. I was flipping back and forth watching an e-bay auction count down.

I lost.

5

[...] Today, Noorzai, 43, sits in a small cell in the high-security section of Manhattan’s Metropolitan Correctional Center, awaiting a trial that may still be months away. But whatever his fate, the Case of the Cooperative Kingpin raises larger questions about America’s needs, goals and instincts in fighting its two shadow wars: the war on terrorism and the war on drugs. [...]

6

[...] Today, Noorzai, 43, sits in a small cell in the high-security section of Manhattan’s Metropolitan Correctional Center, awaiting a trial that may still be months away. But whatever his fate, the Case of the Cooperative Kingpin raises larger questions about America’s needs, goals and instincts in fighting its two shadow wars: the war on terrorism and the war on drugs. [...]

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