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Published on Tuesday, June 27, 2000 in the Cape Cod Times
Our Biggest National Security Threat Is Internal
by Sean Gonsalves
They call it a "drug-fighting package" for Colombia. In January, the "liberal" Clinton administration proposed $1.3 billion be sent to the civil war-torn South American nation at the request of Colombian president Andres Pastrana.

Last week, the Senate approved of a "scaled-down" $934 million version, which included the rejection of an amendment "that would have taken $225 million earmarked for Colombia's military and put into U.S. drug-treatment programs," the Boston Globe reported on June 22.

The Senate's plan will provide our tax dollars for Colombia to buy transport helicopters and to train Colombian military personnel - a notorious assortment of thugs who have compiled the worst human rights record in the hemisphere. And to satisfy some of the good Christian folk back home, there's a little money in the bill to set up several "human rights programs."

A member of the Republican wing of the Business Party, Illinois Sen. Richard J. Durbin recently visited Colombia.

"You could see the plants in every direction, 600 square miles of coca plants. It will be sold right here," Durbin said, referring to the streets of America, neglecting to mention that most of it will be sold to affluent whites while mostly blacks get sent to jail as middle-men (aka low-level drug dealers); a small part of the whole profit-making transaction.

"The likelihood you will be robbed or murdered is usually connected to narcotics. The prisons in America are busting at the seams primarily because of narcotics," Durbin said in exemplary Orwellian fashion.

Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott was closer to the truth when he said that the Colombia aid package was a "close national security interest for our country." Indeed. Even a cursory survey of foreign policy literature, declassified military planning documents and scholarly journals not meant for broad public consumption is enough to understand that the "national interest," as defined by policymakers and war planners, comes down to using violence and deceit to maintain a "free-market" social order especially favorable for U.S.-based foreign investors, no matter what the cost to the general population.

As the Globe reported, the "U.S. funding is directed almost solely at the guerrillas fighting the government, ignoring drug-cultivating areas in north Colombia controlled mainly by (right wing) paramilitary forces." In the foreign policy circles, this type of stuff is called "low-intensity conflict."

You see, according to one of the leading Latin America scholars Gabriel Kolko, "the (stark and inequitable) land distribution system in Latin America, as all knew in 1961, was the origin of social misery for the peasants who comprised the vast majority of the region. In Colombia, for example, large landlords helped to write the so-called land reform law to forestall the reemergence of the post-1948 peasant upheavals."

These "upheavals" are addressed in a standard text of international security studies called "Low-Intensity Conflict: The Pattern of Warfare in the Modern World" edited by Loren Thompson, deputy director of the National Security Studies Program at Georgetown University.

It's a collection of papers written by military strategists and scholars, including John Dziak of the Defense Intelligence Agency, former Marine intelligence officer and defense consultant Michael Schoelwer and Michael Ryan, chief of the Program Analysis Division, Plans Directorate of the Defense Security Assistance Agency.

In Thompson's overview, she quotes from a 1985 Joint Chiefs of Staff paper, which defined "low-intensity conflict (as) a limited politico-military struggle to achieve political, social, economic, or psychological objectives. It is often protracted and ranges from diplomatic, economic, and psycho-social pressures through terrorism and insurgency. Low-intensity conflict is generally confined to a geographic area and is often characterized by constraints on the weaponry, tactics, and level of violence."

Then Thompson goes on to discuss how "important" it is to understand that "low-intensity conflict and special operations are only the most visible part of a wide array of U.S. government capabilities for coping with revolutionary violence in the Third World." Most visible? That tells you something about the level of intellectual integrity (or lack thereof) in what passes for scholarship in our "meritocracy."

"A host of other activities ranging from the communications program of the U.S. Information Agency to the surplus food programs of the Agricultural Department" are part of this "low-intensity conflict" strategy that came to maturity under Reagan, "the Great Communicator."

Surplus food programs? Flood the nation with U.S. agribusiness products, force the peasant farmers to work on a different cash crop (coca or opium farming) on land owned by an oligarchical elite who run the military - a military supported by our tax dollars in the name of "the war on drugs"; all to stop American drug users from getting high (74 percent of whom are affluent and white)? Our biggest national security threat is internal.

Sean Gonsalves is a Cape Cod Times staff writer and syndicated columinist. He can be reached via email:

Copyright 2000 Cape Cod Times.


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