Over at Slate, Christopher Hitchens proposes a novel solution to the "problem" of Afghan farmers continued interest in growing opium poppies, their biggest cash crop: The U.S. should buy the crop rather than letting the Taliban do so.
We don't have to smoke the stuff once we have purchased it: It can be burned or thrown away or perhaps more profitably used to manufacture the painkillers of which the United States currently suffers a shortage. (As it is, we allow Turkey to cultivate opium poppy fields for precisely this purpose.) Why not give Afghanistan the contract instead? At one stroke, we help fill its coffers and empty the main war chest of our foes while altering the "hearts-and-minds" balance that has been tipping away from us. I happen to know that this option has been discussed at quite high levels in Afghanistan itself, and I leave you to guess at the sort of political constraints that prevent it from being discussed intelligently in public in the United States.
Never miss an opportunity to read Hitchens' tremendous 2001 interview with reason. A snippet:
The thing I've often tried to point out to people from the early days of the Thatcher revolution in Britain was that the political consensus had been broken, and from the right. The revolutionary, radical forces in British life were being led by the conservatives. That was something that almost nobody, with the very slight exception of myself, had foreseen.
I'd realized in 1979, the year she won, that though I was a member of the Labour Party, I wasn't going to vote for it. I couldn't bring myself to vote conservative. That's purely visceral. It was nothing to do with my mind, really. I just couldn't physically do it. I'll never get over that, but that's my private problem.
And while we're at it, watch him sing a decidedly off-color Christmas song at last year's Very Secular Christmas Party at reason's DC HQ: