Paradox: the Government is beginning to admit the inevitability of defeat in Afghanistan, talking about talking to the Taliban, talking about an exit strategy that would leave Karzai's corrupt little coven of shysters and drug dealers in a position to stem the rising tide of Taliban women-abusers. What absolute Whitehall bolltox.
The paradox is that the Green Party, which never wanted to go into Afghanistan in the first place, and wants to get our boys home safe and sound as soon as possible, also holds the key to victory over the gay-bashing Taliban. With one notable individual exception, our Party Conference voted to buy the Afghan opium, and use it for relieving terminal pain in the Global South. This policy would pull the financial rug from under the Taliban, cut endemic corruption, and win hearts and minds of the Afghan population, allowing our troops to withdraw, job honorably done.
Lord Malloch-Brown of Brown-Ballochs, the outgoing Foreign Office has played a dead bat to Caroline Lucas' series of letters proposing this solution. Buying the Afghan opium is a non-issue - even at a time when the UK body count is climbing towards to 200 mark, and even the normally war-loving right-wing press is beginning to wonder whether this is a winnable war.
The absence of debate about this most sensible solution makes me wonder at the extent to which drug based corruption penetrates into the heart of Government, not just the Afghan Government (Karzai's brother is thought to be a drug runner, see links on labels below), but also our Government, and possibly the UN. I put this policy to the UN-UK conference, and one of the policy wonks said no, he did a paper on it for UNODOC. I said could I see the paper? He said he would ask. The answer was no, I could not see the paper, presumably because the arguments in it were as lacking in structural integrity as a bit of toilet paper that has spent the night out in the rain.