There once was a time, when the British and Americans were at least pretending to be grown-ups in Afghanistan, when Tony Blair-- that too-clever Greek who thought he could school the bumptious Romans-- advised President Bush to simply buy up the opium crop in Afghanistan. It could be used by legitimate drug companies for needed medicines, and the influx of cash would win some hearts and minds among the farmers. "Are you kidding?" he was told, "We're fighting a war on drugs." The Bush administration had already given millions of dollars to the Taliban for their eradication program. Steve Clemons and his readers, far better educated than I am, have some hard numbers on the subject of opium at the Washington Note.
The Taliban, of course, is making hay while the sun shines and the dope's hitting the streets. Didn't someone-- Shrub's favorite political philosopher-- say something about people who swallow camels but choke on gnats? Not a moment of sleep lost over the thousands of deaths they've caused, and they can tuck themselves in at night with the warm thought that they didn't spend a few pennies to save millions of dollars in grief.