Tara has just been briefing me on the Lincoln Douglas debate format, as practiced at debate tournaments around our state. She was at an all-day meet yesterday, up against some serious opponents. She's not a big fan of flow charts but encourages their mention as a part of one's argument, as that's what many judges are using. Also, good debaters give a road map up front, of the argument they're about to make.
Discussion turned to Afghanistan and the perennial "why are we there?" question. I told the story of a black sheep incensed at USA bases in proximity to Mecca, the Bin Laden construction firm, the use of this area as a staging ground, still the primary justification for ground operations today.
Per Gates, "nation building" (as in "shoring up some central government in the context of some western-style democracy") is simply not in the cards. That's for the Afghanis themselves to work on, in a context wherein many don't begin with this country's very existence as a core precept, given the arbitrary hack job performed by quack imperialists at the end of their 113 year reign. Why believe in what's incredible, when you've got Allah for certain?
Per Walking With Nobby, I'm of the school that there's no moral opprobrium attaching to the cultivation of pharmaceutical crops, the same decision reached by many a military commander, knowing the pain-ameliorating value of opiates etc. vis-a-vis the condition of soldiers under his command.
If there's ethnic or ethical weakness in this picture, it's in a culture or curriculum that doesn't practice substance control successfully, such as by over-criminalizing (as in the US), or by allowing the sale of tainted goods (no "truth in advertising" standard), by over-pricing, by over-permissiveness. Individuals make these same mistakes as well, and learn as they go (or fail to).
Lots of on-ramps to careers in health care, such as nursing, with a pragmatic approach to drug use, will help steer a population away from militantly counter-productive approaches to the medical supply chain, e.g. less terrorism against opium or cocaine growers on a hospital-like spaceship (Spaceship Earth).