"[Karzai is] prone to tirades. He can be very emotional, act impulsively. In fact, some of the palace insiders say that he has a certain fondness for some of Afghanistan's most profitable exports."
This quote comes from a TV interview this week with Peter Galbraith, a former UN envoy to Afghanistan. Those exports Galbraith is referring to are hashish, opium and heroin.
We sometimes forget the massive scale of illicit drug production in Afghanistan. Back in October, as a former Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) chief of operations named Michael Braun stated during a meeting with several U.S. Senators:
"The money generated by the Afghan opium and heroin trade is staggering, and most experts usually fail to consider how much money the Taliban derives from the hashish trade. In June 2008, the Counternarcotics Police of Afghanistan and Afghan Army Commandos, supported by the DEA and U.S. military Special Forces, raided a Taliban hashish processing facility near Spin Boldak in Southern Afghanistan where they seized 235 metric tons of the drug-by far the largest drug seizure in world history.
"The estimated Western European value of the drugs was over $600 million dollars. If the Taliban's profit was just 5 percent, which is being overly conservative, they stood to gain $30 million dollars from the stash. Around the same time, the
DEA and Afghan counterparts raided a [high value target's] compound in Eastern Afghanistan and seized his drug ledgers, which clearly showed that $169 million dollars had moved through the traffickers hands for the sale of 81 metric tons of heroin over just a 10-month period. He is unequivocally affiliated with the Taliban, and is facing American justice."
Thirty million dollars - I bet that would have bought a lot of improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
But let's get back to Galbraith's accusation about Karzai's alleged drug habit.
f what Michael Braun says is correct, then there's an easy way for the Western armies fighting in Afghanistan to test Galbraith's hypothesis - and that is by a day-long aerial bombardment of Afghanistan's opium fields (after dropping pamphlets to warn any farmers away, of course).
Let's see how emotional and impulsive Karzai becomes after the smoke clears from that action.
And if the bombing makes it harder for the Taliban to purchase the parts they need to keep building IEDs, even better.
Neil Hrab is a former National Post editorial writer and federal communications advisor.