November 3rd, 2009
12:45 PM ET

An open letter to President Obama: Where is the war on Afghanistan’s heroin trade?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/09/02/afghanistan.un.opium.harvest/art.poppy.fields.afp.gi.jpg caption="Afghan police officers use tractors to destroy poppy crops in Helmand province earlier this year."]

Ivan Sanchez
Author, Youth Advocate and Public Speaker

I recall sitting down with my young daughters after the tragic events of September 11th 2001, to speak to them about my desire to join the military.

There was a war on terror being launched, and it was fittingly called Operation Enduring Freedom.

With an inexplicable coldness in my heart and an intensity for justice running through my veins, I envisioned myself making someone pay for the attack on my country… on my home.

Coalition forces from America, Europe, Canada, Australia and later NATO troops were all headed to Afghanistan with the mission of capturing Osama Bin Laden.

It was a mission that to this day has never been completed.

As I sat on the sofa watching the tears fall from my daughters' faces – in fear that their father would leave and never return home, I realized that my destiny wasn’t to follow that age-old adage of; “an eye for an eye,” for the truth is that always ends up leaving everyone blind in the end.

I have many questions for you Mr. President. But the root of all these questions is why has the United States pretended to be blind in dealing with the terrorist’s real war on this world?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/10/22/art.vert.ivan.sanchez.jpg width=292 height=320]

The war they’ve launched on us all by flooding our world with heroin.

My mentor Pete De La Luz told me he had an epiphany that if he could get one message to you, it would be to let you know that your true power would come from the eradication of heroin in Afghanistan.

He began to speak to me about the fact that Afghanistan produces and supplies the world with 90 percent of the addictive and deadly drug.

We spoke about the fact that Russia’s drug epidemic counts close to 2.5 million of its citizens now dependent on heroin, while Europe and Central Asia have seen an increase in heroin dependency and the spreading disease as a result.

Pete spoke to me openly about how his brother had died as a result of the drug 10 years ago. It was something he’d never shared with me in our past discussions and it made me realize that we don’t speak about these kinds of ills on society openly as much as we should.

As he went further into the topic he also opened my eyes to the fact that it’s not only the 100,000 people dying every year from heroin overdoses. It’s also the uncounted number of deaths due to H.I.V and other related disease as a result of using the drug intravenously.

I couldn’t believe that an epidemic like this wasn’t being reported every night on mainstream media outlets, so I began to research the issue on the Internet in hopes of educating myself about what’s really going on.

CNN.com in Asia was reporting in an article entitled, “World failing to dent heroin trade, U.N Warns,” that “the Taliban raised $450 million to $600 million over the past four years by 'taxing' opium farmers and traffickers.”

It was an eye-opener in regards to how the terrorists were financing a war against the entire world, and where the money was originating to do so. Money the terrorists have very successfully used to continue to kill coalition soldiers, while hiding Osama bin Laden and turning millions throughout the world into drug addicts.

I’m not sure if this was all scripted by Osama bin Laden, but if it wasn’t I can certainly see him celebrating in his cave as news of this continued destruction reaches him.

Mr. President I am compelled to ask you why, under the watchful eye of coalition forces in occupied territory, are these amounts of drugs being allowed to pass into Russia and other countries?

Is it simply a matter of basic economics 101 in which the billions of dollars in drug profits makes it impossible to stop the corruption of those allowing this type of pandemic to sweep through the world at record-breaking speeds?

If it’s just about the money, please just let us know so we can accept it for what it is. No different than the crooked cops who often take money right here in the South Bronx to look the other way and pretend they don’t see the kids on the corners making slaves out of the people in our communities.

Reports say that in Afghanistan there is a supply of heroin stockpiled to supply the world for the next two years, which means that if you take immediate action, we might be able to turn things around and get this world back under control while you’re still in the oval office.

I am asking you to take Pete up on his challenge to eradicate the poppy fields in Afghanistan utilizing the troops that are over there.

I am asking you to take me up on my challenge of showing the world why you were honored with a Noble Peace Prize, by helping all of humanity including the Russians, the Europeans and the Asians in addition to the rest of the world fight against this true terrorism.

I am asking you in the words of the great commander General George Patton Jr., to “Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory.”

We are all asking you to alter the course of humanity by fighting a real war on heroin, in which more people are killed annually than have been killed in the eight years since this war began.

The real terror we see daily is in the eyes of those lost to an addiction they have no way of beating and in the eyes of the newborn babies born with heroin in their bloodstreams.

The terror is in those dying in hospitals and being born with HIV and AIDS due to this pandemic being forced on us from a world away.

If you accept my challenge, I would gladly sign on the dotted line and go represent my country in that war, as my two oldest daughters will soon be heading to college and may be willing to sacrifice their dad for such a noble fight.

It’s now apparent that we’ve not only failed in Operation Enduring Freedom… But that the Taliban and other terrorists have greatly succeeded in making this world slaves to their poppy crops.

I wonder if they call it Operation Creating Slavery, because in essence that’s exactly what they’ve done to the world.

They’ve enslaved us all by destroying our next generation of leaders.

So please be the leader we’ve elected you to be and send the troops into Afghanistan to fight a war whose outcome could alter the world for the positive for generations to come.

Editor's Note: Ivan Sanchez is the author of Next Stop: Growing up Wild-Style in the Bronx (Touchstone – Simon & Schuster, 2008). The book is the first memoir released by a major publishing house written by a Puerto Rican from the Bronx. Sanchez is also the co-author of It’s Just Begun: The Epic Journey of DJ Disco Wiz, Hip Hop’s First Latino DJ (powerHouse, 2009). He was awarded the National Novel honors for his first fiction offering and is currently working on an anthology about successful NY Latinos.

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