can hardly have been coincidental that the indictments were unsealed
and the arrests made as the Clinton administration is about to unveil
an "emergency'' request for $1 billion in drug-fighting-in-Colombia
money the US now sends about $290 million a year to Colombia
for such tasks. The highly publicized bust is intended as
the BATF's initial raid against the Branch Davidians was almost
certainly intended to be before it went so sour as an aggressive
operation that can be spun as a big success, and as a prelude to
a request for even bigger budgets to set up even more spectacular
but useless aggressive operations.
SHOW, NO BLOW
that such spectacular busts are essentially window dressing designed
to justify larger budget requests rather than to do something real
about the flow of drugs? All the stories carried reminders that
this was the biggest, baddest bust since the capture of many leaders
of the Cali cartel (which took over after the Medellin cartel was
supposedly busted up) in 1995. Few mentioned that since that famous
victory coca and poppy cultivation in Colombia has expanded dramatically,
as have drug production and smuggling. Indeed, the main result of
the attack on the Cali cartel (combined with activities in Peru
and Bolivia) seems to have been to decentralize the cultivation
and trafficking operations, making them that much more effective
and that much more difficult to track.
Another example of government dishonesty can be seen in the released
information about how much dread cocaine was seized in conjunction
with the arrests and the news conferences. Various stories set the
figures anywhere from 13 tons to 15 tons.
Never mind that the government claims that Alejandro Bernal Madrigal
had bragged of shipping 30 tons of cocaine a month to the United
States, which means at least 360 tons a year from his operation
alone, which means that 13 tons seized is simply part of the cost
of doing business. Tucked toward the bottom of one of the stories
was news that 11 of this 13 or 15 tons was hidden in a Mexican fishing
boat captured August 13 two months ago by the US Coast
Guard. Was that 11 tons really part of this operation, or was it
added in two months later to make the seizure seem more impressive?
seriously believes that a few more sting operations like this will
do anything more than create temporary inconveniences in the drug
trade, moving a few kingpins up or down various pecking orders but
in general rewarding those who are most ruthless and adept at violence
and concealment. But they provide a handy pretext for more massive
military and police intervention into Colombia.
As Drug "Czar'' Gen. Barry McCaffrey has made utterly clear,
in previous statements suggesting that the guerrillas and the narcotraffickers
are pretty much the same people these days, there will be no effort
at all to separate US "assistance'' in the drug war from US
intervention into Colombia's ongoing civil war. Indeed, every effort
will be made to blur the lines, to fuzz over distinctions, to make
the conflict as large-scale as possible.
the most curious aspect of the flap surrounding this week's military
coup in Pakistan the coup itself was hardly a big deal in
a country that has been run by the military for 25 of the last 52
years was the
astounding ability of US spokesmen to miss the point.
"If there has been a coup,'' said US State Department spokesthing
Jamie Rubin, "we would obviously seek the earliest possible
restoration of democracy in Pakistan.''
The military takes over in a country with nuclear missiles and Jamie
Rubin delivers prim little lectures about democracy to a country
whose prime minister (elected, to be sure) had spent the last year
or so gathering centralized power unto himself and behaving in an
increasingly authoritarian manner? Talk about misplaced priorities.
If the US has any valid interest in the region, it is to reduce
the likelihood that nuclear weapons will be used. There's actually
not much the US can do in that regard besides gathering intelligence
and exerting pressure behind the scenes. The most effective deterrents
are likely to be the fact that India has nukes too and China has
little interest in seeing a big conflict, let alone a nuclear conflict,
in south Asia. But Jamie Rubin can think of nothing more pertinent
to say than to declare that the U.S.'s major concern should be the
"restoration'' of the figleaf of a set of formal procedures
Winston Churchill correctly identified as the worst form of government
except for all the others.
HEALTH OF THE STATE
his campaign appearances over last weekend, Vice President Al Gore
offered an important if inadvertent insight into the close relationship
between politics and conflict and highlighted the fact that
the job of those who would really try to reduce or prevent war is
bigger than just criticizing specific actions and talking about
Trying to make himself appear more dynamic than a tree, Gore
contrasted himself with Sen. Bradley, who quit the Senate, and
got his audiences chanting, as he fed them lines about Medicare,
Social Security campaign reform and the like, that he and they should
be proud to "Stand and Fight.''
Stand and Fight. Stand and Fight.
That's really what politics is all about fighting over loot and
promoting conflict so that more loot can be captured. It's a long
way from being an accident that even as they utter sweet words about
cooperation, toleration and getting along, politicians spend most
of their waking days dividing people, pitting them against one another,
urging them to feel angry with one another, creating and demonizing
real and imagined enemies, reminding people of grievances and urging
them well, to fight and fight and fight some more.
War is merely, as Clausewitz knew, politics undertaken on a different
stage and sometimes with different means. War is merely one aspect
of the endless conflict the state promotes and underwrites the
most horrible aspect, to be sure, but hardly different in character
from its more mundane everyday activities.
For better or worse, then, if we really want to reduce war, we will
almost certainly have to view the effort as part of a larger overall
effort to reduce the size and scope of the state. A state allowed
to remain as large as the American empire's state is now will inevitably
get into wars. It almost can't help itself, even when or perhaps
especially when led by former peaceniks.
contribution of $20 or more gets you a copy of Justin Raimondo's
Into the Bosnian Quagmire: The Case Against US Intervention in
the Balkans, a 60-page booklet packed with the kind of intellectual
ammunition you need to fight the lies being put out by this administration
and its allies in Congress. Send contributions to
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