order to find out what is really going on in Colombia, all
we have to do is invert what the President said: The
aid will, in and of itself, drag us into a shooting war, since
drugs and civil insurrection are, in Colombia, inextricably
intertwined. Secondly, the parallels with Vietnam are enough
to qualify this as the Deja-Vu War. Not only does this conflict
come complete with Marxist revolutionaries, impenetrable jungles,
and a country long victimized by foreign domination, but its
unwinnability has been determined from the very outset. .
YOGI BERRA PRINCIPLE
we had no business intervening in Southeast Asia Eisenhower
started it once in there the US did everything it could
to ensure the defeat of its ostensible war on Communism. The
Vietnamese anti-Communist forces, represented by President
Ngo Dinh Diem, were opposed, undermined, and finally overthrown
by the US government: the assassination of President Diem
is today widely acknowledged to have been a US covert operation.
Diem, a Catholic in a nation of Buddhists, was the bane of
radicalized Buddhist monks, who periodically set themselves
on fire whenever they wanted to garner the attention of the
Western media. It was an effective tactic, one that led, eventually,
to a US-organized coup, and also to Diem's death at the coup
plotters' hands. Diem had paid the price for taking President
Kennedy at his word. If the US had really been interested
in fighting Communism in Vietnam, they would have backed Diem
to the hilt; instead, they had him murdered. In Colombia,
it's deja vu all over again, as Yogi Berra would say.
Once again, the only force that is capable of rolling back
leftist guerrillas on the ground has been targeted for destruction
by the US. . . .
REAL TARGET OF "PLAN COLOMBIA"
or autonomous self-defense groups that are known in the Western
media as "rightwing paramilitary groups," grew up in the 1980s,
when the wave of kidnappings launched by leftist guerrilla
groups began to demoralize (and decimate the ranks of) the
middle class: small business owners, ranchers; even the drug
traffickers, some of whom by this time had achieved middle
class status, were being terrorized. Aside from the kidnappings,
competing leftist guerrilla armies were preying on the peasants,
looting stores, and exacting "taxes" from a populace it couldn't
even protect from the scourges of the army, which would periodically
sweep into town and execute suspected guerrilla sympathizers.
War often broke out between competing leftist factions, with
civilians caught in the crossfire. The autodefensas sprang
up in response to the inability or unwillingness of the central
government in Bogota to offer the least amount of protection.
Although the pro-leftist media likes to characterize them
as moral monsters, and as little more than agents of the Colombian
military, their leaders are often defectors from the ranks
of the guerrillas who saw through the Marxoid rhetoric and
realized that the FARC, the ELN, the EPL, and the others were
just marauding gangs, out for power and loot. The campesinos
themselves organized the self-defense committees, which
merged into the Autodefensas Unidas Colombia (AUC).
Their power base is in the north, where the AUC counts most
of the biggest ranchers among its supporters. Consciously
emulating the leftist groups, the autodefensas have
waged a relentless war against the guerrillas and have generally
been much more effective than the army. It has been widely
remarked that the FARC and the other leftist revolutionary
groups control about half the country: what is generally not
said is that the autodefensas control the other half.
They are the main bulwark against the final victory of the
Left and as a result, they have been targeted by the
US. For it is they who will wind up being the main targets
of "Plan Colombia." . . .
are not in Colombia to fight Marxist insurgents, in spite
of the nostalgia this idea may evoke in old cold warriors.
Very far from it, our intervention could lead to the victory
of the leftist guerrillas. Indeed, it seems almost designed
to accomplish that very end. As Clinton put it in his Cartagena
news conference: "Let me make one point very clear: This assistance
is for fighting drugs, not waging war." In spite of the official
characterization of the FARC guerrillas as "narcoterrorists"
by overheated Republicans, as is widely known it is the autodefensas
who have the most direct link to drug trafficking in the region.
The nucleus of the autodefensas movement was a group
founded because drug traffickers and their relatives had been
kidnapped and killed by the guerrillas Muerte a
Secuestradores (Death to Kidnappers, MAS). The guerrillas,
for their part, protect coca farmers in order to extort exorbitant
"taxes," but much prefer kidnapping as a source of regular
income. The FARC's hostility to commerce and their Marxoid
puritanism had led them to call, like the Pastrana government
and the US State Department, for "crop conversion": they recently
held a conference on the subject.
FLAG OVER BOGOTA
we are sending helicopters and "advisors" to eliminate the
drug trade in Colombia, then we are taking aim, not at the
various Marxist groups, but at their only effective opposition
the self-defense groups. Coca production is an integral
part of the Colombian economy, and short of tearing up society
root and branch it is unlikely to disappear any time soon:
to target the autodefensas for being "drug traffickers"
is to make war on them, in effect, for being Colombians. With
the Colombian army on the run, and the US pledged not to interfere
in the fight against the guerrillas, the full force of the
US and its billion-dollar "Plan Colombia" will be directed
against the AUC and the country will be delivered into
the hands of the last Marxist insurgency on earth. Not another
Vietnam? Colombia is practically a rerun, frame for frame,
down to the most telling details. Once again, a Democratic
president escalates a war that is taken up by the Republicans
with extraordinary gusto. Last time, we were told it was a
"war on Communism" and inside of a few years the red
flag was flying over Saigon. This time, they're calling it
a "war on drugs" and if you believe that, I want to
know what you've been smoking. How long before the red flag
flies over Bogota is a matter of pure conjecture, but the
success of "Plan Colombia" would make it practically inevitable.