Propaganda in the Guardian on the Taliban

It is amazing that anyone actually reads the Guardian. On significant stories on the international arena they just print fairy-tales. I imagine that some people pick up a newspaper not to be informed but to have their fears and prejudices confirmed. If so – the Guardian is a good choice for you.

This is from an article on the exit of the US army from Afghanistan:

There was no flourishing of Afghanistan under foreign occupation. More than 47,000 Afghan civilians died in the conflict; millions have fled as refugees to other countries. Afghanistan remains the world’s largest supplier of heroin; the country has consistently been ranked among the world’s least peaceful and most corrupt.

Perhaps we should be grateful that the author at least admits that “there was no flourishing of Afghanistan under foreign occupation”. But this line is a major factual distortion: “Afghanistan remains the world’s largest supplier of heroin”. The implication is that Afghanistan heroin was produced in Afghanistan (by the Taliban) before the US invasion in 2001 and that despite US efforts it “remains” a problem. This is 100% the opposite of the truth. In 2000 the Taliban banned opium production and production fell significantly. A UN report states: “In November/December 2000, reports from Afghanistan suggested vigorous implementation of the ban by the authorities”. [1] After the US invasion in 2001 production restarted – the Taliban were interested in the revenues which they could use to fund their fightback and, apparently, the US did little to stop production and the production of opium flourished under their occupation [2] (I’ve read that one reason for this was that they didn’t want to alienate local farmers). That Taliban have just declared that they will again ban opium production. [3] There are a flood of articles in the press of the occupier saying that this won’t happen. [4] We will see; but we can say that they did succeed last time, according to the UN.

The Guardian journalist says that opium production “remains” a problem – despite the occupation. The fact is that it wasn’t a problem in the year before the 2001 US invasion but became one after the occupation. The occupation didn’t, as he says, fail to stop opium production (by the Taliban). They had already stopped and the occupation created the conditions under which presumably decided to prioritise their war aims over saving the rest of the world from the scourge of heroin.

At any event – we can’t tell if this is just shoddy, third-rate journalism, or deliberate propaganda. (I think the two cross over at some point). It amazes me; these people are paid journalists – surely they have the time to get basic facts right? Again; either they are simply too lazy to check the facts or they are just producing the propaganda to please their masters.

Notes

  1. https://www.unodc.org/pdf/publications/report_2001-10-16_1.pdf
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2386629/
  3. https://www.wsj.com/articles/taliban-afghanistan-heroin-ban-opium-production-11630181316
  4. E.g. https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2021-08-29/afghanistan-taliban-drugs

Author: justinwyllie

EFL Teacher and Photographer