On Wednesday, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) participated in an Oversight Committee hearing on infrastructure spending in Afghanistan, where the U.S. is currently conducting a war on drugs against opiate production.
Massie had a simple question: How’s the war going?
The congressman asked Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Afghanistan Christine Abizaid, “I’ve read reports that opiate production has as much as tripled, since we invaded Afghanistan, in that country. How much do you think it’s gone up? Has it gone up or down?”
She didn’t have an answer (beginning at 1:45 in the video). “It’s not something I follow on a daily basis and part of my portfolio, but I’ll check with those that do,” Abizaid said.
Massie doubled down, “How do you measure success if you don’t know?”
“Would you testify today that opiate production has gone up since you started the counter-narcotics effort?” Massie pressed.
Still, no real answer.
That’s when John Sopko, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, chimed in:
Opiate production is higher today, 2014 was the highest production year in Afghanistan. So if you look at any metrics for success or failure… you look at arrests, you look at seizures, you look at the amount of crops under production… you look at the number of addicts.
If you look at every one of those metrics, we have failed.
More important for Afghanistan, the amount of money going to the insurgency has increased since we’ve been there.
So sir, to you… I don’t think we’ve succeeded in Afghanistan.
If this is ‘winning,’ what is ‘losing’ the drug war?
Massie outlined the big picture:
The war on drugs in Afghanistan… has been a failure.
“We’ve spent $8 billion over there. Production is the highest it’s ever been.
Here in the United States, we have a heroin epidemic. I think these two things might be related.
“I think it’s time to reevaluate our strategy and our tactics in the war on drugs in Afghanistan,” Massie finished.