US military blows up piles of poppy seeds to win the “hearts of minds” of Afghan citizens


According to, the US military has "dropped several tons of explosives on a field in the Helmand Province, destroying mounds of poppy seeds which had been gathered there."

State Department official Tony Wayne says the attacks are part of the campaign to win the “hearts of minds” of Afghanistan’s civilian population. He claimed farmers were being “intimidated” into growing poppies instead of wheat, which the US has been attempting to subsidize as an alternative crop.
US Bombs Poppy Seeds in Afghanistan ‘Show of Force’


  1. For Pete’s sake – just BUY the poppy crop in toto, pay more than the Taliban would, use it to make morphine or something for the US health system, and if it is uneconomic, the US govt can subsidise the whole thing – it’s still way cheaper and probably more effective than any “military” alternative – and will certainly win more hearts and minds than bombing what cannot then be sold for income, as a punitive “that’s what you get for ignoring our kind offers to subsidise a wheat crop” play.

  2. I don’t think the CIA will be very happy to learn that the US Gov’t has blowed up their heroin fields.

  3. “yeah, you better lissen now ya towelheads! Ya see that pile of seeds! That’s yer next wedding if you step outta line! Cletus! Bring that haji over here! Yer da head honcho, right? You jest tell yer boys we’ll bomb ths shit outtas yer sandy asses iffn ya don’t walk right. Ya hear me boy?!”

  4. If they practiced here by wiping out eggplant they’d win my heart and mind.

    Actually I do wonder if destroying the seeds won’t create scarcity, drive market prices up, create more incentive to grow the stuff, and exacerbate the problem.

  5. Imagine the reaction if China started bombing our tobacco fields to protect their citizens from lung cancer.

    1. Why couldn’t it have been cilantro they were trying to wipe out?

      Or patchouli.

  6. FFS, can we not just legalise Heroin already and stop all this bullshit? Anyway, there’s Okra out there needs napalmin’.

  7. i personally most enjoy the fact that opium is a thriving agricultural industry for the australians [leading producers of legal morphine], but the afghanis [who desperately need this sort of local industry] are not allowed to do the same.

  8. This is so awesome. The military has finally gone so mad as to start dropping iron on *crops*.

  9. Of course they blew up the poppy fields: otherwise, where would they put the Pop-Tart factory?

  10. Brainspore, personally I wish someone would find an airborne lethal blight that affected only tobacco plants, and spray it over the entire southeastern US.

    Can’t you see poppy fields from the air? Can’t they just firebomb them right before harvest (so that the work of growing them is sunk cost)? Or would that risk entire villages downwind nodding out?

    If firebombing them risks civilian casualties, how about defoliant? I hear Agent Orange is pretty safe. (Oops, wrong war. Been having Vietnam flashbacks (just to the time, since I was a child then) all week.)

  11. I need morphine to stop the headache this story gave me. Oh, the irony that those very same poppies could have fixed my problem.

  12. And I will take the cilantro allocated to you folks who hate it. I love that stuff! I didn’t get the gene for “tastebuds detect weird soapy component in cilantro,” happily.

  13. As for okra: OK, it’s slimy. You can’t just steam it and serve it like you do broccoli. But there are things you CAN do to make it work better:

    * Cook the hell out of it in a spicy Indian curry sauce. The slime vanishes harmlessly into the sauce.

    * Pickle it. Slime goes away completely, leaving a rough texture and a good cellulosic crunch. Damn I love okra pickles!

    *Deep-fry it. This one’s tricky; if you don’t get the batter exactly right you end up with a tasty breading shell around a blob of blazing-hot snot. Mmmm. But done right, it’s kinda like fried zucchini, only a little crunchier.

  14. I wonder how many poppy seeds where spread far and wide by their bombing…

    BTW, does this count as “intimidating” the farmers into growing wheat?

  15. They say they’re attempting to subsidize wheat crops there, but what they don’t say is that most of those farmers who took the U.S. government’s word for that promise and started growing wheat haven’t seen one red cent in subsidy money and were forced into even worse poverty than before as a result of that broken promise.

    Either accept a lie and get screwed into deathly poverty, or get the shit bombed out of your farm. The concept that this behavior will win what I assume is meant to be “hearts and minds” must have come from a very hardcore masochist. It makes about as much sense as making friends with people by stabbing them in the gut.

    What we really need to do to start making progress is stop being dishonest, violent, pushy assholes who (from an outside perspective) exist only to punish foreign people for not doing as we tell them to.

    Domestically, we’re a democracy. Internationally, we truly do conduct ourselves as a tyrannical empire. That criticism is fully valid and we can no longer just pretend that “those silly uncivilized losers have got it all wrong about us, and we just need to force them to see that (at the end of a bayonet)!”

  16. my mouth be watering for eggplant parmesan on a bed of okra and cilantro.

    seriously. I’m not just being contrariwise.

    I’m also like patchouli but only because
    A: it works as an early warning system so i can gracefully leave the room before the annoying people get too close to me.
    B: it probably smells better than the caked on feces they are trying to mask the smell of.

    blowing up someone’s livelyhood is always a good way to make friends.

  17. Re uses for okra – it doesn’t really work steamed, and there is a middle point in frying it that doesn’t work. It has to be either barely cooked, or fried to death. My favourite uses are on the barely-cooked side:

    – Apply directly to mouth, raw, as fresh as possible. Yum.

    – Chop into 1-2″ sections, add to stir-fry about 45 seconds before removing from the heat – just enough to warm it through, but the slimey sap doesn’t get extracted into the dish.

    I also like adding it to sauces and soups (Indian-style or gumbo), so the slimey sap comes out and thickens the liquid.

  18. “blowing up someone’s livelyhood is always a good way to make friends.”


  19. The reason poppies do so well in war torn areas (i.e. France, a while back) is because the turned soil allowed the poppies to spontaneously grow and flourish and bring them out of dormancy…

    But other than that, it’s a flawless plan.

  20. The only thing that could make this any more counterproductive would be to build a pig farm in the crater.

    That’s what the hearts of my mind are telling me, at least.

  21. “US Military Finds Expensive, Inefficient Way to Sow Poppies Over Several Square Miles”

  22. I know this article was meant to be hilarious, but honestly this is something the US government has been ignoring for like 20 years now.

    The Taliban gets its funding from heroin, and in our amazingly blind effort to go after them the last several years in Afghanistan we’ve done basically nothing to hinder their cash flow.

    I’m not saying this one incident was necessarily a god send, because there is clearly not much real information about what happened in this little blurb. But hopefully we’re starting to reign in the Taliban’s control over small farming communities and put real effort into chasing down the billions they make every year from heroin sales.

    I’m not sure if this article is as funny as it was meant to be. Sorry.

  23. “Any of you guys ever know a heroin addict?”

    Sure. They don’t seem as bad off as the alcoholics I know. Should the military blow up some grain silos to help them out?

  24. @44 yeah, but they cleaned him up enough to finish his term and take his shoe collection with him.

  25. how about the us government legalises possession of opium and morphine and heroin for us citizens, and buying the poppy production from afghanistan to produce material to be properly processed and purified for a replacement to the methadone/whatever else programs and in one fell swoop you kill heroin black market trade, junkie crime, funds flowing to the taliban and al qaeda and get all those afghani farmers onside by becoming better paying customers than the baddies.

    of course it is likely that hell will freeze over first before any such sensible idea was even proposed in the halls of government let alone implemented.

  26. Should the military blow up some grain silos to help them out?

    I’m so stealing that.

  27. I would like to think that these are acts of stupidity, but the cynic in me thinks that they are well thought out efforts to incite hatred. This is all about farming war and conflict to keep the military wheels (and profits) flowing. That’s what happens when the military becomes an entrenched part of the economy – you can’t stop without risking a crash.

  28. whaddya load of shite. Smack and blow both, they could terminate the trade overnight if they wanted to. The fact is black money is useful for spooks of every government.

    Consider this: governments daily make the choice to kill one to save a thousand. You could even argue that is the function of government; the greater good with regrettable collateral damage as required.

    All they ever had to do (for decades now at least) is seed the flow of powders with anthrax spores or similar. It’s within their power, mandate and stunted morality. How many would die? Anyone “important”? How is that different than war, or assassination or wilful sanctions like those that killed 500,000 Iraqi children or even 800,000 Rwandans just by turning a blind eye? Four million Vietnamese? They could stop the business overnight. Deniably. Untraceably.

    The dope trade exists because they WANT it to.

  29. The dope trade exists because they WANT it to.

    Takuan: demonstrating how to go from quality comments to batshit insanity in under 50 comments. Well done, sir.

    (this is not to say that the government doesn’t have a hand in drugs policy – as your own links showed – but to say ‘they’ could ‘shut it down’ overnight is just bullshit. Even china and other Asian nations that have death penalties and extremely harsh punishments for dealers and users alike still struggle to curb drug use and addiction. People will always and have always gotten high, and people have always and will always find a way to exploit that for their own benefit – to bring out the Black Helicopters, rhetorically speaking, is just fucking nuts.)

  30. The Taliban gets its funding from heroin, and in our amazingly blind effort to go after them the last several years in Afghanistan we’ve done basically nothing to hinder their cash flow.

    The Taliban were about 1,00 times more successful at eradicating Opium from Afghanistan than the U.S. ever will be.

    Wikipedia Source

    Brief Opium Timeline check September 2000.

    There are about 1,000 other sources to verify this information.

    Either way, burning a farmers crops is not going to help the situation. These farmers rely on the crops for cash because they are poor. Setting fire to their lively hood will only do 2 things.

    1 – Make the price of opium go up.
    2 – Make the farmer poorer.

    What do you think they’ll grow next? Cabbage?

    If you want to tackle the problem the solution is to provide legitimate ways for the farmers to make a living. Try and improve trade agreements between Afghanistan and Pakistan for example. Currently vegetables, etc have a habbit of going completely rotten while they sit at the border. Not too much profit in rotten vegetables, yet there is large profit in fresh produce when you have a market.

  31. USA Government: We keep bombing them, i just don’t understand what they don’t love us yet?

    Afghanistan: What was that all about, these were for the CIA?

    Me: What about my f’n poppy seed bagels? How can i function without them for breakfast? Screw the drugs and politics, I’m addicted to bagels for breakfast!

  32. Yeah – Morons (yes, you) need to use the powerful tool of Google, and stop their thought fprocess from it’s obvious cycle.

    Drugs = bad.
    drugs in afghanistan = extra bad.
    What else is bad in Afghanistan?
    The Taliban.
    Taliban = bad, drugs = bad, therefore

    drugs + taliban = profit!

    Guh. Fucking idiots can’t feel the strings when they’re being jerked the hardest. I doubt people will ever noticed how they’re puppeted around the issue of drugs.

  33. @44: I am an opiate “addict”… people often make the mistake of thinking that’s more important than it is.

  34. Takuan, in response to your lovely naked links:

    The CIA, Contras, Gangs, and Crack
    In August 1996, the San Jose Mercury News initiated an extended series of articles linking the CIA’s “contra” army to the crack cocaine epidemic in Los Angeles. Based on a year-long investigation, reporter Gary Webb wrote that during the 1980s the CIA helped finance its covert war against Nicaragua…
    “”In my 30­year history in the Drug Enforcement Administration and related agencies, the major targets of my investigations almost invariably turned out to be working for the CIA.” — Dennis Dayle, former chief of an elite DEA enforcement unit.””

    It’s like saying any time you go on the internet you’ll run into Google – that may be true, but it hardly means the internet wouldn’t/couldn’t/didn’t exist before Google. ‘They’ don’t control ‘drugs’ in principle any more than Google controls the internet in principle – even if they each both have major stakes.

  35. there is normally a good economic solution.

    Here it is the world stops trying to get opium to grow in Finland and Tasmania, and buys the opium from the Afghans at a fat mark up for them.

    They get a legitimate economy, and it is amazing how putting your kids through school and buying a toyota pick up for the farm settles the crazy right out of a person.

    Of course this should have been done the MOMENT the Russians withdrew.

  36. I hate cilantro. Coriander is much nicer.

    I suppose I’d rather they bombed the seeds than the farmers. A slight improvement.

  37. Would have been far better to sterilize mass quantities of the seed, mix this with some good seed, then covertly flood the seed market with inferior product. Giggle silently when no crops appear and farmers scratch their heads. Repeat ad nausium.

  38. Poppies destined for pharmaceuticals produce a different mix of opioids. I met the guy who bred the ones grown in Tasmania. He actually bred out the opioid for morphine/herion because they don’t want it.

  39. I can fix Okra for you with two words:

    Bhindi Masala.

    As for Cilantro, if you choose to be cilantro-hating heathens, there’s just no hope for you. ;-)

  40. Okra-phobes: have you tried cooking it with tomatoes? No slime, and you have the benefit of eating something with a real taste.

    OK, I guess the okra IS kinda pointless.

  41. I know this article was meant to be hilarious, but honestly this is something the US government has been ignoring for like 20 years now.

    The Taliban gets its funding from heroin, and in our amazingly blind effort to go after them the last several years in Afghanistan we’ve done basically nothing to hinder their cash flow.

    I’m not saying this one incident was necessarily a god send, because there is clearly not much real information about what happened in this little blurb. But hopefully we’re starting to reign in the Taliban’s control over small farming communities and put real effort into chasing down the billions they make every year from heroin sales.

    Your support of it based upon that understanding is perfectly valid. If it were that simple, it would be harder to hate them for doing this.

    Unfortunately it isn’t that simple.

    The people actually doing the farming are not terrorists or members of the Taliban. They are just desperately impoverished people turning to desperate measures to stay alive. They do this quite literally to avoid starvation, in many cases. These farmers are not supported by the individuals we are waging a war against. Often enough, they’re not even in the same country as our declared enemies. It’s not uncommon for aging farmers to raise and harvest poppies, only to ask their children to make several trips a day across the border, smuggling the drugs in exchange for less money than it costs to buy a loaf of bread in the developed world.

    If we were simply cutting off the supply of cash to a dangerous organization, it would be laudable. What we are doing instead is more easily compared to My Lai. We cannot effectively target the Taliban, or the terrorists, so we go after the exposed and defenseless targets instead. The poppy farmers trying to scrape by something resembling a life with basic human decency. Theyr’e criminals anyway in our eyes, the military knows everyone at home will assume they deserve to be bombed. We can shovel shit into these people’s faces all we want and nobody will hold those doing it to task for how unjust it actually is.

    These tactics have no significant long-term effect on heroin production. However, they do very effectively demonstrate to the average person inhabiting these areas that the U.S. is their enemy and cannot be trusted.

    Walk up to a man on the street, kick him in the crotch, and spit in his face as you shout, at the top of your lungs, “LOVE ME YOU FILTHY PIECE OF SHIT!”. The response you get will provide an insight into just why the U.S. is so violently hated in developing nations.

    If their government lacks the power or desire to keep our troops off of their soil, we walk right into their backyards and remind them just who’s bitch they are if they even think of doing something we don’t like… with a bayonet, if necessary.

    Our government is only a democracy when it can be held accountable for its actions. Afghan citizens can’t hold the U.S. government accountable… so, they get beaten and bombed into submission to what we want them to do, regardless of whether some of them will starve to death if they obey.

    Do you think any of these poor farmers can really tell the difference between us and the Soviets they fought off decades ago? Do you think creating that sentiment in people isn’t going to ruin long-term relations with them, and drive increased membership in any organization, terrorist or otherwise, that stands against those who are bombing these farmers?

    U.S. foreign policy has really not matured in the least since Vietnam. You do not make people your allies by shooting at them indiscriminately.

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