In August 2007, the presidents of Afghanistan and Tajikistan walked side by side with the U.S. commerce secretary across a new $37 million concrete bridge that the Army Corps of Engineers designed to link two of Central Asia's poorest countries.
Today, the bridge across the muddy waters of the Panj River is carrying much more than vegetables and timber: It's paved the way for drug traffickers to transport larger loads of Afghan heroin and opium to Central Asia and beyond to Russia and Western Europe.
This is a repeat of Vietnam as well. Money allocated to support drug interdiction was used to construct a highway into the heart of the Golden Triangle, right up to Kuhn Sa's heroin factory. Whereas it had taken Kuhn Sa a week to caravan his heroin to the waiting Air America planes, the highway, funded with US tax dollars, allowed the journey to be made in just a few hours.