Before George W Bush’s War on Terror, there was Richard Nixon’s War on Drugs (“America’s public enemy No. 1,” he had said). But then, Canada, America’s ‘higher’ neighbour, always had a confused attitude towards drugs. If in 1977, Rolling Stone Keith Richards was famously arrested by the Mounties for heroin and cocaine possession, only two years later Canada’s First Lady Margaret Trudeau was caught smoking cannabis with the same Richards and his band mates. With this legacy, Canadian Nato troops in Afghanistan must be forgiven for being overwhelmed on stumbling across what has been reported as “impenetrable forests of 10-feet high marijuana plants”.
While America is trying to grow potted democracy all over the world, Canada realises that uprooting age-old systems and habits is not the way to go about things. So when General Rick Hiller, Chief of the Canadian Defence Staff, stated in Ottawa last week that the Taliban were using forests of cannabis sativa as cover, we understand why his troops refrained from conducting a ‘scorched earth’ policy. Well, they did try burning them. But apparently too much moisture in the plants made them impervious to flames.
One suspects that because burning marijuana usually leads to the inhalation of its smoke, which in turn leads to the chemical compound tetrahydrocannabinol reacting with the brain, Gen. Hiller did not quite tell us the whole story. But then, one just wonders whether the Taliban, hiding in the bushes, smoke their own camouflage — which, of course, explains why Mr Bush’s predecessor never inhaled.