US Bombs Poppy Seeds in Afghanistan ‘Show of Force’

Helmand Bombings Part of 'Hearts and Minds' Campaign, State Dept. Insists

by Jason Ditz, July 21, 2009

In what is seen as an enormous show of force in the ongoing battle between man and poppy seed, the United States military has dropped several tons of explosives on a field in the Helmand Province, destroying mounds of poppy seeds which had been gathered there.

Poppy Seeds: Scourge of the US war effort in Afghanistan

Today’s air strikes were the latest, and likely most heavy-handed exercise of US military power in the war on drugs in Afghanistan, as the poppy seeds which have become a significant portion of Afghanistan’s largely agrarian economy often get exported for use in opium derivatives.

The attacks seem related to the US military’s massive offensive in the Helmand River Valley. Top NATO Commander General John Craddock has long sought to divert the military mission into a broader war on drugs, lashing out at allies who opposed his policies and ordering troops to kill anyone involved in the opium industry.

State Department official Tony Wayne says the attacks are part of the campaign to win the “hearts of minds” of Afghanistan’s civilian population. He claimed farmers were being “intimidated” into growing poppies instead of wheat, which the US has been attempting to subsidize as an alternative crop.

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