Hi, Miss Eagle here. I am guest posting at Denis's request. He's laid up in bed - not good but well enough to be angry about a news item on to-night's ABC News.
What has sparked the anger of our naturalist Denis is fields of pink poppy flowers in Afghanistan - Australian troops moving among the beautiful flowers which embody an ugly trade. Why, Denis asks angrily, are Australian troops still there yet the opium trade still goes on, still supplying markets in the USA and Australia.
I said to Denis that I had heard some defence in recent weeks where some quotes from "the powers that be" explained that, while there were activities directed at getting Afghanistan farmers to grow other crops, it was first things first. Defeat the insurgents and then agricultural transition could have a higher priority. As well, the poppies were attracting very high prices and the poverty-stricken farmers could not be prevented from accessing markets to gain some income.
Now that is all very well but dealing with poppy cultivation as a high priority is not a recent issue. That unique creature, the Lord Mayor of London Boris Johnson, blogged on this topic almost two years ago while British troops were fighting in Afghanistan.
The bare facts of the matter are:
- Poppy production appears to continue unabated.
- Proceeds from poppy production remain integral to the Afghanistan economy.
- Australian troops remain in Afghanistan without any firm commitment to a specific withdrawal date.
- Australian troops continue to die in Afghanistan for a country whose economy is strongly situated on a toxic base.
In short, Denis wonders what the hell Australia is still doing there and why the troops are not being brought home. Denis also wants it to be known that when he is back on deck and expressing his anger personally on the computer, he will be dashing off letters on this topic to the Prime Minister of Australia and her Minister for Defence.