The Opium Wars

I remember something about The Opium Wars from history class. I knew it involved the British and China. I assumed it was an early War on Drugs, with the British trying to stop the sale of opium from China. Actually it was quite different. The British wanted to be able to import and sell opium into China. Opium had been banned by the Chinese government and the British went to war, and won, over the ability to sell opium in China.

Today the news is about the end of the 20 year US war in Afghanistan. I recall that Afghanistan produced something on the order of 90% of the worlds heroin. I wondered what the effect of the war on heroin production was. Like the Opium Wars it was not at all what I assumed.

It seems the Taliban all but halted opium production in Afghanistan, only to have it return once they were driven out by the US forces. There also appears to be connections between the Afghan government supported by the US and the drug trade. I am sure this could be a complicated situation, yet this raises lots of questions. I found an article that appears to have legitimate data but is critical of the US involvement. I tracked down the source and it appears to be a legitimate academic source, but affiliated with Russia. Worth a read, just for the opposing view. It also touches on the heavy use of private “contractors” in the conflict.

The Politics of Heroin and the Afghan US Pullout