Lately I keep reading the history of opium from different sources. A lot of this has to do with the Opium Wars (18th century, Britain v. China, with America supporting and benefitting from Britain's victory) which comes up in research for my work-in-progress, The U.S. War Against Asia. This morning, in prepping for the day, I was reading the section on opium in A History of Hong Kong by Frank Welsh. Opium is the world oldest historically known medicine; it actually works (unlike some marginally effective products peddled by pharmaceutical corporations); it and its effective derivatives are illegal without a prescription in the U.S.; prescriptions are hard to come by, as doctors are closely monitored by regulatory agencies.
Hamid Karzai, President of Afghanistan, apparently threatened to join the Taliban. He said it in private, apparently, but surprise, the news leaked out. This sent the Obama administration, and its nut-cracking Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, into a panick. On the one hand they think Karzai is just trying to get a better deal from the U.S. On the other hand it is bad for U.S. propaganda, and giving him a better deal would mean having less control over a puppet they want more control over, not less.
I think Hamid Karzai is smarter than you think. He knows that the U.S. has a long history of assassinating or otherwise replacing puppets who seek too much autonomy (see history of Vietnam). He knows he can, with luck, dodge Taliban assassins, or CIA assassins, but almost certainly not both at the same time.
So there is only one reason Karzai would be thinking of joining the Taliban: he knows they are winning the war.
The fact that the Taliban is winning the war is quite remarkable. It is not due to their expertise on the battlefield. According to numerous sources, most of the Taliban can't hit a target at any appreciable distance. Most of them need, but don't own, corrective lenses, a result of the poverty and backwardness of the nation. Using their most commonly available weapon, the Kalashnikov automatic rifle (AK-47), they are unable to precisely line up the two sighting marks with their targets, which requires being able to focus at three distinct distances at once. Kalashnikovs were designed to be reliable, but in achieving that goal they have a lot of play in them. They were designed to spray bullets at close range, not hit targets hundreds of yards away.
So why are the Taliban winning the war? Because the U.S. and its scuzbag allies are foreign invaders! No one likes them, really, not even Karzai and his clan. If the Taliban had folded early on, then Karzai would be just another third world despot hated by his own people. Instead, he is a third world despot shot at by his own people.
The U.S. military used to worry that someone would equip the Taliban with weapons like surface-to-air missiles that would blunt U.S. air power and thus make U.S. ground gunmen far less effective. Apparently now they have to seal the border to prevent eye glasses from getting through. Expect Obama and the Gang to announce soon that Iran is building secret underground factories to manufacture enough glasses for the Taliban to shoot straight. International sanctions will be needed.
Back when Barack Obama was just another sleezy politician lying to people to try to get elected President, I wrote (See Barack Obama: Will He Dick Nixon Us?, July 8, 2008): "The most likely scenario at this point is that Barack Obama will become President. I am capable of hope; I hope he is a good President. But I won't be surprised if he just muddles through like most of our past Presidents. I won't even be surprised if he expands the war and is a failure on domestic issues."
Obama expanded the war, not only in Afghanistan but to Somalia; it has been a mixed bag on domestic issues. The Republicans of course, and the Tea Party folk (many of whom are not to keen on the Republican Party), are Obama's Taliban. Obama loves power as much as any American politician. If he thinks the Tea Party movement is going to sweep the field, don't be surprised if he has a secret meeting with his most trusted advisors and says, "Maybe I should join this Tea Party thing and become its leader." And don't be surprised if word leaks out.
As to opium, we should make it legal to grow opium poppies in the U.S., and make opium (but not morphine or other strong derivatives) an over-the-counter, legal product. That would do more to cut U.S. medical bills than any Obamaesque top-down bureaucratic scheme. The world's oldest effective medicine should not need a prescription.