May 24, 2010

Corner the Opium Market



ABC reports that marines are paying off poppy farmers for fields they burned by mistake. They even are encouraging the farmers to grow poppy, commiserating when the harvest is poor, and wishing them a better crop next year. As for the opium that finances our dreaded enemy the Taliban, the marines say they will interdict and catch the traffickers, and fight drugs that way. They've confiscated hundreds if not thousands of pounds of the stuff already, say the marines.

This all is patently ridiculous.

The US probably could win the war overnight by the simple expedient of buying this and all future poppy harvests at double the price the Taliban is able to pay. President Obama could corner the opium market. Opium is after all a commodity, and perhaps the most-important medical commodity around, because it is the base of a battalion of pain-killers, of which morphine is only one. Why not buy and stockpile this valuable and necessary commodity?

Aha! It would bring down the price of dope and therefore medicine; it would force the heroin-makers to spend more for product, and thereby constrict the outlaw market. Heroin-users would have to pay more for the illegal drugs, and presumably some would rather quit for economic reasons, as many cigarette-smokers have done.

Who could outbid the United States Government? Certainly not the Taliban.



A President who did this truly would be "Jeffersonian." It is exactly the sort of thing Tom Jefferson would do if he were in the White House now. President Jefferson transacted the greatest real estate deal in history with the Louisiana Purchase. How did it come about?

President Jefferson asked his War Secretary how much it would cost to fight France for the territory stretching from Louisiana to North Dakota, and was told three-point-five million dollars. Instead of spending it on killing, he decided to offer Napoleon the $3.5 million instead, and Bonaparte, strapped for cash by his wars with every king in Europe, accepted the offer. What was a distant colony to him, if France fell?

France fell anyway, because of Napoleon's mego-maniacal stupidity and royal European vengeance for the murder of the King and Queen of France by "The Revolution." But not all was lost. Napoleon had after all enriched France with what are now known as its "national treasures," meaning the booty he looted from every country he temporarily conquered. The treasures he stole from Russia to Egypt built modern France, and most of them are still in the museums he constructed, like the Louvre, and are more-valuable today than when he robbed them.

Oh well, some good came of it anyway, from the eventual births of Albert Camus and Simone de Beauvoir, and some very good books.

Of course, the United States Government will never try such a simple strategy to alter the course of its losing war in Vietnamistan.

Be mindful that the king of Saudi Arabia is reported to have told President George W. Bush that there was no need to invade Iraq in order to topple Saddam. He advised his friend George to buy the loyalty of the whole Iraqi Army for a mere billion dollars, and the suddenly-rich generals would overthrow Saddam for him.

It isn't known how much President Bush knows about Thomas Jefferson, or whether he would want to be historically associated with such a rebel .

But the Arabian king's solution was too simple, and there was no glory in it for George and the gang, and much less profit.

The same reasoning probably applies in Afghanisnam.

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