The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Jim Hightower writes that that the United States is badly losing the drug war in Afghanistan in his column, “Afghanistan Forever. And Ever. And Ever.”

Oh, to be in Afghanistan again, when the poppies are in bloom!

If you need a symbol of how America’s decade-long war is going in this faraway land, look no farther than the beautiful fields of red poppies flowering so bountifully there. Unfortunately, that bounty symbolizes a failure of an ambitious Western initiative against the Taliban forces.

Innocent little poppies are the raw material for producing opium — and the poppy crop in just one Afghanistan province supplies more than 40 percent of the world’s opium trade. In turn, that illicit flower power fuels the Taliban with tens of millions of dollars a year to buy weapons, recruit and train fighters, make bombs, bribe Afghan officials and otherwise make war.

So, the West’s strategy has included an all-out effort to eradicate poppy production in the province, both by banning the crop and by helping Afghanistan’s impoverished sharecroppers switch to such alternatives as wheat and cotton. Good theory! If it works.

It hasn’t. Many poppy growers didn’t like having their cash crop taken away from them, so they moved to a desert region of the province that’s under Taliban control and turns out to be remarkably productive poppy land. Meanwhile, those raising wheat and cotton are producing good crops, but Western development specialists forgot to focus on the key factor in convincing people to switch: profit. For example, Afghan cotton is not competitive with cheaper cotton from Pakistan, plus, the lone cotton mill in the province often isn’t working and is notoriously slow in paying farmers.

Advertising

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Billboard urging "No" vote on Kansas abortion referendum

That Kansas voted to protect abortion rights guaranteed in its state constitution didn’t surprise me, although I certainly never expected a landslide. The original “Jayhawks,” after all, waged a guerilla war to prevent Missourians from bringing slavery into the Kansas territory, a violent dress rehearsal for the Civil War. A good deal of the state’s well-known conservatism is grounded in stiff-necked independence.

In the popular imagination, Kansas has always signified heartland values and rustic virtue. Superman grew up on a farm there, disguised as mild-mannered Clark Kent. So did Dorothy of The Wizard of Oz, a spunky young woman with an adventurous spirit. But cartoonish fantasies have little to do with the real world. My favorite Kansas politician was always Sen. Bob Dole, war hero, Senate majority leader, 1996 GOP presidential nominee, and unmistakably his own man.

Keep reading... Show less

Colbert Mocks Trump's Bad Toilet habits

Image via YouTube

The political world was rocked by the FBI raid on former President Donald Trump's Mar-A-Lago residence, perhaps prompted by reports that he had flushed classified intelligence documents down the toilet. Not surprisingly, Late Show host Stephen Colbert found this image laughable if alarming. (Over the weekend, New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman had revealed photos from a White House source revealing scraps of paper at the bottom of a toilet bowl.)

“To be fair, it’s unclear if those are official White House documents or his toilet’s suicide note,” Colbert noted, although the papers did appear to have Trump’s Sharpie handwriting, as well as the name “Stefanik” written on them -- as in Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY).

Keep reading... Show less
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}