American troops came charging into Iraq four years ago anxious to spread the benefits of democracy to the benighted inhabitants of that far off land. George Bush has repeatedly announced his opposition to all forms of drugs, but, it now appears the president has become the godfather of opium growers in Iraq. The cultivation of opium poppies whose product is turned into heroin is spreading raidly across Iraq as farmers find they can no longer make a living through growing traditional crops. Drug lords, who were suppressed by the Taliban, got a new taste of democracy when that group was driven from power. Ironically, once defeated, the Taliban has switched to opium production as a means of obtaining financial resources to support its terrorism. Drug production is now centered in Diyala where al-Qaeda is strong. Farmers discovered they could not compete with imports of fruits and vegetables so they have switched to the poppy fields of fortune.
Al-Qaeda has strong influence in the area and is facilitating poppyt production. The harvest is taken by drug smugglers to Basra from where it is exported to the rich markets of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the Gulf states– all alies of the United States in the fight to end al-Qaeda terrorism. The presence of militias all over Iraq simply means it will be extremely difficult to halt the growth of new poppy fields. George Bush is the patron saint of terrroism in the Middle East and he can now add to his acolades the growth of heroin production in the region.