THE DRUG WAR IS AS AMERICAN AS APPLE PIE AND COCAINE
of my friends mocks the drug war and sneers at President Clinton's request that
Congress fund a new $1.2 billion military aid package for Colombia, so the
Colombian military can better engage the iniquitous narco-traffickers. "You
don't understand US politics," I say. "Don't forget about those who
benefit from the drug war. The Pentagon needs to justify its Cold War-size
budget. With the evil empire gone, the military desperately seeks even barely
credible enemies. Weapons makers need new markets. And Members of Congress are
always looking for jobs for their districts and, of course, defense companies to
fund their election campaigns."
says my friend. "Three decades ago, Tricky Dick Nixon declared war on
drugs. Each succeeding administration has renewed Nixon's bellicose declaration.
And look what it's cost us!" "OK," I admit, "there's a
slight down side: a million plus people in prison for drug offenses, the
majority people of color. Tens of thousands of kids have their parents sitting
in the pokey. But you have to weigh those costs against national security goals.
With a billion dollars to strengthen the Colombian army's fight against
drugs," I say, "we'll teach those Colombians to respect human
grass will grow on my palm," says my friend. "Colombia will become the
third-largest recipient of U.S. military aid in the world, behind only Israel
and Egypt. Military aid to Colombia will come to more than the entire rest of
the Hemisphere combined get from us." "Not to worry," I replied.
"The foreigners won't get the $360 million that will buy 60 helicopters for
the Colombian Army to fight those leftish "narcoguerrillas." Sikorsky
Aircraft will get $360 million if the aid package clears the Senate. The bill
already passed the House, getting votes from ultra liberal Democrats like Rosa
DeLauro of Connecticut, who recently received the Richard Manware Humanitarian
Award for her efforts to advance children's issues in Connecticut."
friend started to get angry. "DeLauro made no commitment to Colombia kids
who get sprayed with pesticides by our well-trained friends in Colombia. The New
York Times reported that US-financed military planes regularly miss the coca
crops, their supposed target, and instead zap village schoolchildren. The key
for Ms. DeLauro is sending 30 Black Hawk helicopters to Colombia for
anti-narcotics police. Sikorsky Aircraft makes the choppers in DeLauro's
district. They're owned by United Technologies, which, coincidentally, has
donated $14,000 to her reelection campaigns."
I retorted, "Jobs for De Lauro's district; corporate funds for her
reelection. Pentagon personnel to train the Colombian pilots. That's as holy an
American trinity as apple pie, Chevrolet and cocaine."
he said. "And how about what the drug war has done to another object of US
contempt: journalists? In the last decade, right wing paramilitary personnel,
i.e., soldiers out of uniform, have assassinated 89 Colombian reporters for
writing about death squads and other taboo subjects. These squads of military
personnel in or out of uniform stage periodic massacres. In late July, 1997,
they chopped up some 60 peasants in Mapiripan village -as a warning to other
villagers who might sympathize with the guerrillas.
he continued, "U.S. Special Forces stationed in Colombia trained the
officer who ordered the massacre. Indeed, US troops secretly trained their
Colombian pupils in zones where other death squad activity has taken
is war, after all," I said, "over drugs or anything else. With the
Soviets gone, the Pentagon can't be too choosy. With a $300 billion budget you
take jobs where you find them - or create them." "So," he
sneered, "weapons-makers cash in, workers get jobs, Members of Congress get
mean campaign contributions," I corrected him "And Clinton calls all
this fighting a drug war!"
get cynical at the onset of a new century," I warned.
he said, " real new!"
Hugh O. La Bounty Chair of Applied Interdisciplinary Knowledge, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona Pomona, CA 91768 tel:909-869-3115 fax:909-869-4751 mailto:email@example.com http://www.csupomona.edu/~slandau