BUSH AND THE 60s….The New York Times reports today that the Bush administration is pressuring Hamid Karzai’s government in Afghanistan to crack down on opium production via large-scale spraying of opium poppies. But even non-hippies are unhappy about this:

The British have been so concerned that on the eve of Mr. Karzai’s trip to Camp David in August, Prime Minister Gordon Brown called President Bush and asked him not to pressure the Afghan premier to use herbicides, according to several diplomats here.

In something of a reversal of traditional roles, officials at the Pentagon and Central Intelligence Agency have also challenged the White House and State Department support for spraying, raising concerns about its potential to destabilize the Karzai government, current and former American officials said.

Of course, these concerns are all on top of the fact that the spraying program won’t work anyway. So what’s the point? If it’s bad for the Karzai government, good for the Taliban, and won’t reduce heroin production anyway, why is President Bush so gung ho about it?

This is a mystery, of course. But the most likely answer is that he’s enthusiastic about it for the same reason that he was enthusiastic about sending Heritage Foundation activists to Baghdad in 2003 and believed that instituting a flat tax would kick Iraq’s economy into high gear and allow democracy to bloom. As with so many things, it comes down to the fact that he has an everyman’s disdain for pointy-headed policy development and a fifth-grader’s appreciation for how the world works outside our borders. Remember, here’s his version of “strategic thinking”:

Iran’s a destabilizing force. And instability in that part of the world has deeply adverse consequences, like energy falling in the hands of extremist people that would use it to blackmail the West. And to couple all of that with a nuclear weapon, then you’ve got a dangerous situation. … That’s what I mean by strategic thought.

So: hippies bad. Hate hippies. Drug culture bad. Hate drug culture. Drugs come from poppies. Poppies come from Afghanistan. Hulk smash.

That’s about it. Too bad there isn’t someone in the White House to tell him that the stability of Afghanistan and the resurgence of the Taliban are a wee bit more important than continuing to play to his base’s hatred of 60s counterculture. In a development that would be comical if it weren’t so genuinely appalling, I guess we now have to rely on the CIA for that.

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