Sunday, April 09, 2006

Afghanistan Confusion and Prohibition

I've been confused lately, reading blogs and newspaper articles and columns about the war in Afghanistan. The consensus is that Harper is the first PM to visit the troops there, Paul Martin never had a debate when he sent the troops there, and we went to Afghanistan as a sop to the Americans for not going to Iraq. I've been confused because I thought we went to oust the Taliban as they were protecting Al Quaeda -- they'd been bosom buddies in the run up to 9/11 -- and this happened shortly after September 2001, long before Iraq was on the radar.

So it was nice to see the correction in the Toronto Star on page A2. Jean Chretien visited the troops at Camp Julien in Kabul, Afghanistan in October 2003, which means he, not Paul Martin, sent them in the first place -- last time I checked Chretien was Prime Minister before Martin. Also, George Bush decided to storm into Iraq 3 years ago, something we know because the news services recently trumpeted the 3rd anniversary of the invasion. That was TWO YEARS after invading Afghanistan (OK to be precise, 1.5 years).

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If we cannot remember immediate history, is it any wonder that politicians are incredibly amnesiac and dumb when it comes to drugs and prohibition? The latest I heard was that an Ontario MP wants to ban tobacco altogether from Ontario. Did this twit forget about prohibition, the organized crime, the bootlegging, the huge police resources devoted to finding out illegal booze in clubs and chasing rum runners, and how finally politicians came to their senses and legalized booze? And how after that, criminal activity around alcohol dropped and we can now deal with drinking problems as they should be dealt with, as a health issue?

I don't like cigarette smoke. My attitude is your right to smoke ends at my right to breathe. But nicotine is a drug, the most addictive substance out there. It should be dealt with as a drug and controlled only insofar as to protect the people around the drug user (e.g, no smoking indoors, no drinking and driving, and why not no stoned and driving? Because those drugs are illegal so we can't monitor them in the say way as alcohol and nicotine, that would be tacit legal acceptance.). And while I'm at it, may I say all drugs should be dealt with as a drug, not some evil moral issue that has to be banned. I don't recall the Bible saying that those taking one kind of drug ought to be stoned, but those drinking alcohol are OK. So when and how did drugs become an issue of morality? It's such an idiotic policy that people in intractable pain can't take morphine unless they find a doctor brave enough to prescribe it and smart enough to know that the morphine will allow them to become functional, contributing members of society (personal note here: the one time they gave me morphine for postoperative pain, it did nada for me. I'm in that 2% of the population that doesn't respond, so I'm not advocating this because I want it.). It's so idiotic that hemp, because it's connected to cannabis, is banned in some areas; same with coca leaves, because they're connected to cocaine. Cocaine and alcohol are both drugs, they both kill, they were both used as medical anesthetics at one time, so why is one legal and the other is not? I could go on. The point is saliva-inducing emotion -- and on the cannibis side, stoned incompetence -- has trumped cold logic and reasoned thinking.

Personally, if we treated all now-illegal drugs as we treat alcohol and nicotine, then drug crime would drop like it did after prohibition was lifted, and the police would not be chasing drug runners like they used to chase rum runners, thus they'd be better able to crack down on murderers, domestic violence, robberies, assaults, rapes, and pedophiles, to name just a few non-drug related; (though perhaps alcohol and drug fueled) crimes that are a blight on our society. Instead of uselessly tossing addicts into jail, we could develop better addiction facilities and toss them into those. And lastly, those Afghanis growing poppies to survive wouldn't have to if over there we gave them better alternatives and over here treated; the social and health issues behind heroin addiction, instead of using the criminal code to eradicate it. As Dr. Phil says, how's that working for us?

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