While the American-led invasion of 2001 was triggered by the desire to oust Osama Bin Laden and his Taliban allies, there was also an explicit hope that it would allow a genuine and long-term campaign against opium production.
The Taliban brieﬂy cracked down on it in 2001, but this did little more than create a temporary shortage. Few expected that it would be sustained, especially given the extent to which effective power remained in the hands not of the central regime, but of local warlords and tribal chieftains, many of whom enjoyed lucrative proﬁts from trafﬁcking.
After all, production had doubled through the 1990s until Afghanistan had become the source of three-quarters of the world’s opiates. The industry had also grown more sophisticated, moving from simply producing raw opium base to processing it into heroin.