In Columbia or Mexico, we call them “drug cartels” and the leaders of those organizations, we call “drug lords.”

If they happen to be Muslim from Afghanistan, we call them “Taliban,” or “Al Queda.”

Poppies have been funding the ultra conservative region of Afghansitan and Pakistan for generations. The closed-knit communities of those regions have less to do with culture than with protecting their turf. The savage means with which they deal with their enemies was fined-tuned on each other in drug turf wars between war lords (aka: “drug lords”).

Perhaps if we called a spade a spade, then the world will be a little more willing to go after these guys no matter where they are…

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Profits from Afghanistan’s thriving poppy fields are increasingly flowing to Taliban fighters, leading U.S. and NATO officials to conclude that the counterinsurgency mission must now include stepped-up anti-drug efforts.

This year’s heroin-producing poppy crop will at least match last year’s record haul and could exceed it by up to 20 percent, officials say, meaning more money to fuel the Taliban’s violent insurgency.

“It’s wrong to say that you can do one thing and not the other,” Ronald Neumann, who recently stepped down as U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, said of the link between anti-drug and anti-terrorism efforts. “You have to deal with both at the same time.”

Afghanistan accounts for more than 90 percent of the world’s heroin supply, [MBT: YIKES!] and a significant portion of the profits from the $3.1 billion trade is thought to flow to Taliban fighters, who tax and protect poppy farmers and drug runners.

Drug control has not been part of the official mandate of international forces in Afghanistan. But there is a growing push for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, to play a more active role in sharing intelligence and detecting drug convoys and heroin labs, said Daan Everts, NATO’s senior civilian official in Afghanistan.

There is “increasing international interest in seeing a more assertive supportive role in ISAF in the counternarcotics strategy implementation,” he said before quickly adding that it would not include eradication.

Gen. Khodaidad, Afghanistan’s deputy minister for counter-narcotics, said that estimate is likely accurate. “The problem is a lack of security, a lack of governance, the Taliban, druglords, warlords and corruption,” said Khodaidad, who goes by one name. “It’s a bad list with very bad results.”

Thomas Schweich, a senior State Department official, said he has briefed NATO ambassadors and Gen. Dan McNeill, the top NATO general in Afghanistan, on the need for increased military cooperation on the drug front.

There is a growing recognition that “counternarcotics and counterterrorism are effectively the same thing,” said Schweich, the U.S.-based coordinator for counternarcotics and judicial reform in Afghanistan. “I think everybody recognizes that with the Taliban receiving funding from narcotics, much more so than in the past, that there has to be a coordinated effort.”

Fox News Story here.