"Art is not a mirror with which to reflect the world; it is a hammer with which to shape it"

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

A Drug Against War

There was a story that seemed to sneak out over the weekend which didn’t garner much coverage. Is it hilarious? Is it sad? Does it even make sense? It doesn’t have anything to do with writing or the media but it seemed quite indicative of something or other.

Here’s the situation as far as I’ve deciphered it: Britain is currently suffering from a major shortage of morphine (for pain relief). Morphine is made from opium poppies. So, the government has approved the growing of opium poppies in Britain for the first time but it’s all got to be done in secret locations under tight security. However, I have heard of a place where there’s quite a lot of Opium. I’ll give you a clue, begins with ‘Afghani’ and ends in ‘Stan’.

Now, it seems the original plan in Afganistan was to take all the ‘evil’ opium (destined to be heroin) and destroy it. This plan hasn’t been working terribly well. It seems the Afgan opium farmers aren’t entirely happy with this it. So, over the weekend there’s been a new policy announced… we buy the opium off the Afghan farmers then we destroy it.

Now, here’s a vague thought, a little blue-sky thinking if you will… we buy the opium and then we… use it!

Now I’m no top-level politician so I’m not all smart so I may well be wrong but I could imagine a couple of advantages…
  • if we buy the opium (for a fair price… Fair Trade opium anyone?) it will break the supply chain of the 80-90% of heroin on British streets originating in Afghanistan,
  • we can ensure that the money goes straight to the Afgan farmer rather than going straight to the Taliban who promptly buy things like guns with it,
  • it frees up UK fields for stuff like ‘crops’, you know, food, which by a strange quirk of fate it seems we’re actually a bit short of*,
  • it frees up the non-Afghan troops, Afghan National Army and Afghan Police to spend their time more productively,
  • it would increase goodwill with the Afgan farmers who get very upset when they see their livelihood being taken away,
  • lastly, let’s face it, Afghan farmers have proved they’re really rather good at growing an opium crop…

So, why aren’t we doing this? Why ask me? Oh yes, because I brought it up... I can only think of three reasons:

  • it’s the wrong kind of opium,
  • it runs contrary to some ideology-based theory (drugs are bad, opium becomes drugs, therefore opium is bad),
  • there's a problem with a treaty (probably money-based),
  • politicians are incredibly stupid.

…I know which one makes sense to me!

So there you go, nothing to do with writing but I thought it was 'curious' to say the least...

*You may not have heard this but believe it or not the EU are now predicting food supply shortages and soaring food prices in the EU because their encouragement of converting fields to bio-fuel crops has been such a roaring success that food crops have been ripped up like nobody’s business. That’s why the Italians had the strike where they refused to buy pasta. All the Umbrian wheat fields that have always been the bread-basket of Italy providing so much high quality wheat have been torn up and converted to bio-fuel. Lack of wheat and increased demand means soaring prices!


Valentine Suicide said...

Sounds very sensible to me Jon. (Unfortunately I'm not well known for me intelligience or common sense.)

Jon Peacey said...

I should try going into politics but that 'sounds very sensible' is just too daming! ;-)