Comment // Politics

Former British Ambassador Claims Taliban More Effective Than British Army

William Patey, British Ambassador to Afghanistan until 2012, has said that heroin should be legalised because Britain has lost the "fight" on opium production in Afghanistan.

Patey was the British Ambassador to Afghanistan from 2010-2012. He is a career diplomat having joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1975.

In an article he wrote for the Guardian today, Patey says that when Tony Blair "deployed British troops in Afghanistan, ending the illicit production and supply of opium was cited as a key objective."

Of course this was a lie then, as it is today. When Tony Blair depoyed British troops to Afghanistan, the Taliban had almost completely stopped opium production in Afghanistan. Britain's role in Afghanistan was, without doubt, to get that production restarted.

source UN World Drug Report

To put some figures on this: in 2001 while Afghanistan was under Taliban control, opium production fell from 3,656 tonnes in 2000 to 74 tonnes. In the year following British intervention, production once again rose to pre-2001 levels, and in the subsequent years there have been a steady stream of mainstream media headlines highlighting the "record harvests".

Patey attempts to make the case for legalisation of heroin in the UK on the basis that legalisation will lead to control, and a subsequent reduction in demand for opium.

But while he is calling for the drug trade to become a source of tax revenue for HMRC, he also seems to be suggesting that the British Army is less effective than the Taliban, because it's either that, or he is admitting that British government policy in Afghanistan was the reinstatement of Afghan opium production.

The former must be seen by every British serviceman as an insult. The latter? Well, perhaps that's closer to the truth.