This year’s opium harvest in Afghanistan has reached the highest level ever recorded, almost a 50% percent increase in numbers from last year. Afghanistan has long been a cradle of opium poppy production, with both the natural and political climates contributing to create a favorable environment for Papaver Somniferum cultivation. The dried sap from mature poppy flower pods produces opium, which is a main component in heroin production as well. Opium and heroin production has been estimated to make up as much as 35% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product. But aside from having a tremendous impact on the international narcotics trade, this dramatic increase in the opium harvest is a valuable indicator on the status of the nation of Afghanistan. Years after the Bush Administration began its operation to topple the theocratic Taliban regime, Afghanistan is still in turmoil. The opium trade is a good indicator of the problems in the country not only because the vast majority of the opium poppy cultivation occurs in the mountainous southern region of the country that is held by insurgent forces in opposition to US backed interests in the country, but because of the corruption and crime that the narcotics trade creates in the country. The head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime described the opium harvest data as “alarming” and “very bad news” for the situation in Afghanistan, adding that the “southern part of Afghanistan was displaying the ominous hallmarks of incipient collapse, with large-scale drug cultivation and trafficking, insurgency and terrorism, crime, and corruption.” Such a strong statement from the UN should be very alarming to the international community. With all this crime, corruption, and terrorism, one wonders what, exactly, it was that American taxpayers shelled out billions of dollars for, and what many American servicemen and servicewomen died for? It seems as though US intervention in Afghanistan was an abysmal failure. Osama Bin Laden was not captured, nor was his death reported or confirmed. Opium production is at record levels, and we are on the verge of having a tidal wave of freshly harvested opium flood street corners around the world. All this opium production is made possible by the existence of lawless regions held by insurgents and re-established Taliban forces. Is any of this on the news? Does the Bush Administration have any sort of plan or explanation for their failures? The answer seems to be no on all counts. Perhaps the biggest tragedy in all this is the lack of public attention. The American public needs to hold their elected representatives responsible for this debacle. Its easy to ignore the problems in Afghanistan as we are distracted by the deteriorating situation in Iraq, and the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, but a reactionary foreign policy simply cannot address the complex issues behind the problems we see in the Middle East and Afghanistan. Ignoring these problems will not make them go away, and topical solutions never last because they don’t address the roots of the problems. We need to rethink the way we deal with other countries, because our strategy of invasion and occupation didn’t work in Afghanistan, isn’t working in Iraq, and won’t work anywhere in the future.