We have only one WORLD yet! If we destroy it, where else will we go?
Winter 2002: 8th issue - **2nd Anniversary**

ATRC- Update, part 1
March 11, 2002

For Part II

Stopping Drugs, Fighting Guerrillas or Protecting Oil?

Dear Friends,

Nuclear weapons are back on the front page of the newspaper (above the fold, in fact) after a long hiatus. We are less than happy at their return, and yet it is better that the Bush administration's plans are subject to the light of day than hidden in secret reviews.

We'll be sending out our analysis of the Pentagon's Nuclear Posture Review in Part II of our email update. Loyal readers will notice that we were ahead of the curve in our coverage of the declassified portions of the report, bringing you information about it more than a month ago.

We have exciting news!! The Arms Trade Resource Center has taken over the Council for a Livable World's Arms Trade Newswire, a daily compilation of arms trade news. Our version, the ATRC Newswire, will be produced and sent out three times a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) and will be expanded in scope to include coverage of military training.

If you are interested in receiving our ATRC Newswire, please send an email to Michelle at ciarrm01@newschool.edu.

Table of Contents:

I. Aid To Colombia

II.Two Timing: U.S. Arms Sales And The Indo-Pakistani Conflict

I. U.S. Aid To Colombia
Stopping Drugs, Fighting Guerrillas or Protecting Oil?

by Michelle Ciarrocca

The U.S. has never been good at disguising its greater interest in international affairs: OIL. While U.S. policy in Colombia in the past has ostensibly centered on stopping the flow of drugs into the U.S., this year's budget request puts aside "$98 million in new Pentagon training and equipment for the Colombian military," in addition to the $731 million for the Andean Region, according to the Washington Post.  The aid will provide 12 new transport helicopters for a 2,000 to 4,000 member "Critical Infrastructure Brigade" - a new division in the Colombian army assigned to protecting Occidental Petroleum Corporation's oil pipeline.

Todd Gitlin pointed out in a recent article on MotherJones.com that the Bush administration is "warning Americans that drug addicts help support terrorists." That was the message displayed as part of a multi-million dollar advertising campaign premiered during the Super Bowl. But these provocative ads said nothing "about the nation's other habit --cheap oil."

Gitlin goes on to point out that for more than half a century the U.S. has been beholden to Gulf states, especially Saudi Arabia despite its known ties to the Taliban, but nobody in Washington is suggesting we give up buying gas. "Oil, and America's unending appetite for it, ushered in the death squads of Al Qaeda. Oil lubricated the US's disastrous quarter-century-long support for the Shah of Iran ... Oil floated, and continues to float, the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein. Access to oil trumps democratic values and human rights at every turn," wrote Gitlin.

When asked by the Chicago Tribune whether helping Colombia defend a private oil company's asset against terror attacks by rebel groups puts the U.S. beyond its original mission of fighting drug trafficking from Colombia, Secretary of State Colin Powell acknowledged, "It's a close line," - a line the Bush administration has been edging closer and closer to.

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), whose efforts resulted in tighter limits on aid to Colombia warned, "This is no longer about stopping drugs -- it's about fighting the guerrillas ... [the proposal] draws us further into a military quagmire, and the Congress should be very reluctant to go down that road."

Bush officials have said there would be no combat role for U.S. forces. At the moment U.S. law limits involvement in Colombia to strictly counternarcotics operations. Colombia's 38-year old conflict, which has claimed more than 40,000 lives, involves the Colombian military, the AUC paramilitary group, and the country's two main guerrilla groups: the FARC and the ELN. All parties to the conflict, including the Colombian Armed Forces, have committed numerous human rights violations and the U.S. State Department lists the AUC, the FARC, and the ELN as terrorist organizations. As Bush's war on terrorism pushes beyond Afghanistan, there has been talk of increasing intelligence sharing and speeding up the delivery of spare parts to Colombia. Additionally, the House just passed a resolution on Colombia "expressing support" for Colombia "and its efforts to counter threats from US-designated foreign terrorists organizations."  How this resolution will affect U.S. policy in the region remains to be seen. According to U.S. Southern Command spokesman Steve Lucas the Defense Department has about 250 armed forces personnel, 50 civilian employees and 100 civilian contractors in the country.

The Bush administration's counterdrug proposal is ultimately a continuation of Clinton's Plan Colombia. The bulk of the aid, almost 70%, is for narcotics and security programs, even though increases in aid to Colombia have failed to make a dent in coca cultivation and alternative development programs promised to help poor farmers transition from coca to legal crops are still not in place. Thanks to some members of Congress, this year's aid package does include positive language on human rights and alternative development programs. In order to receive the aid, the Colombian Armed Forces must take concrete steps to severe ties between those members who have committed human rights abuses, or have aided or abetted paramilitary groups. The military must also cooperate with civilian prosecutors and judicial authorities in prosecuting and punishing those members. Language was also included to ensure alternative development programs are in place before fumigation and eradication efforts are expanded, thereby guaranteeing Colombian farmers a source of income without growing coca.

A report released in February 2002 from Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Washington Office on Latin America accuses the Colombian military of maintaining close ties to paramilitary forces, which are responsible for widespread civilian massacres. Current congressional restrictions on funding require that Secretary Powell suspend all U.S. aid at the end of the month unless he can certify that Colombia has made progress in severing those ties and promoting civilian investigation, suspension and prosecution of military officers.  The report states, "Colombia's government has not, to date, satisfied these conditions," and the military's record has gotten worse.

The situation in Colombia has also gotten worse. In mid-February, in a nationally televised address, Colombian President Andres Pastrana broke off peace talks with the FARC, Colombia's largest rebel group. His decision to do so came after the FARC hijacked a domestic airliner and kidnaped Colombian Senior State Senator Jorge Eduardo Gechem Turbay - president of the Senate's peace commission.

While Pastrana came into office pledging to find a peaceful solution to the country's armed conflict, the latest kidnapings by the FARC were the last straw for Pastrana. In addition to cutting off the peace talks, the Colombian Air Force launched air strikes and deployed 13,000 troops into the southern territory ceded to the FARC in 1998.

The peace negotiations have been a long and arduous process with little results to date. But a major problem in the negotiations has been the increase in U.S. military aid, which has done nothing more than strengthen the ties between the Colombian military and paramilitary groups such as the AUC. The FARC, ELN and AUC all derive funding from protecting drug crops, while the AUC is responsible for some 70% of the killings of civilians.

As Adam Isacson of the Center for International Policy notes, "The roots of Colombia's conflict are deep and complicated, and will require a creative mix of strategies to solve. While there is a role for Colombia's military, the real difference will be made by peace negotiators, judges and prosecutors, human rights and anti-corruption activists, honest legislators, reformist police and military officers, muckraking journalists, and others who want to build a viable, functioning democracy."

So far, U.S. efforts have focused almost solely on a military solution to Colombia's woes. The Bush administration must follow the positive steps taken in Congress, which provide Colombia with aid for alternative development programs, humanitarian assistance and the strengthening of judicial and civil institutions, for those efforts will foster a peaceful solution to Colombia's conflict much sooner than an all-out military response.


Human Rights Watch
Colombia: Sudden End to Peace Negotiations Puts Civilians at Risk Call for Release of Abducted Senator 

Colombia Fails Rights Test

"An Oily Quagmire," by Todd Gitlin, MotherJones.com, February 6, 2002,

 U.S. Military and Police Aid: The Current Outlook
The Center for International Policy's Colombia Project

Colombia Update by Adam Isacson, NACLA

II.Two Timing: U.S. Arms Sales And The Indo-Pakistani Conflict

by Jon Reingold

The U.S. can be quite the player.  As part of the anti-terrorism campaign, it's turning up the heat in a dangerous flirting game with two strategic allies, India and Pakistan.  Each is vying to be the U.S. favorite and recipient of sophisticated U.S. weaponry to please the home front and intimidate the jealous neighbor. 

But this is not a region where one should play games.  Nearly 500 people were killed in five days of religious violence last week.  This is a region with deep-rooted religious and post-colonial conflicts that the U.S. is only fueling through high tech weapons sales.  For now, the U.S. presence in Afghanistan may prevent any direct Indo/Pakistani actions, but once it leaves there is no telling what could happen.

India and Pakistan are two nuclear rivals that share a disputed border in the Kashmir. The Kashmir has a Muslim majority but is administered by Hindu India.  Muslim separatists in Kashmir, ostensibly funded by Pakistan, have been waging a low intensity war against India for over fifty years, ever since the partition of India and creation of Pakistan by the British in 1947. 

Reportedly, India and Pakistan have a million troops positioned along their shared border. 

India has suffered from alleged Pakistani backed terrorist attacks in the past; including the most recent suicide attack on the Indian Parliament in New Delhi this December.  Of course, this has only served to strengthen very nationalist rhetoric from the World Hindu Council, or VHP, which has ties to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, in its fight against terror and push to build a Hindu temple on top of a mosque it destroyed in 1992.  As a result, at least 2,000 people died in violent confrontations.  Now as America looks to arm allies in the global war against terrorism, India seeks to acquire U.S. military hardware.     

As for Pakistan, ever since the U.S. needed Pakistani cooperation to conduct the war in Afghanistan, General Musharraf has been expecting more than a mere thank you note for sticking his neck out as the dictator of a country whose population doesn't trust the U.S. to say the least.   

Pakistan bought 80 F-16's in the 1980's, but the final 28 planes were never shipped since Congress blocked all military and other aid packages in 1990 due to Pakistan's covert nuclear weapons development.

In 1998 Washington broke most military dealings with India and Pakistan and imposed sanctions, under the Arms Export Control Act of 1976, when the two nations conducted a series of nuclear tests.  This September, President Bush removed those sanctions from both countries, which banned licenses for exports of items on the U.S. Munitions List, foreign military financing, and the transfer of certain technology.

In October, Congress further assisted in lifting arms controls on shipments to Pakistan by suspending sanctions imposed in response to the 1999 military coup.  For fiscal year 2002 the President is now only required to give Congress five days notice before securing any military assistance to Pakistan, and Bush can extend his arms sales Ez-pass to 2003 so long as it encourages democracy in Pakistan and is necessary to the U.S. campaign against terrorism.  (For more information see the Human Rights Watch report, "Dangerous Dealings," http://hrw.org/reports/2002/usmil)

After 9/11, the arms atmosphere has undergone a swift transformation.  India, which has never been particularly close to the U.S., and in fact has historically preferred Russia, (70% of India's military is Russian hardware), is looking to increase defense spending. It's turning to not only its traditional set of friends and strange bedfellows, such as Israel, Russia, S. Africa and Great Britain for arms, but also, now to the United States.  

Late February, the Dehli Defense Exposition (Defexpo), hosted government leaders and weapons salesmen from around the globe.  Among them were General Richard Myers, U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, officials from the U.S. Department of Commerce, and representatives from defense giant, Raytheon. 

The U.S. put an offer on the table, the Raytheon Firefinder Weapon Locating System, the first radar capable of quickly locating long-range mortars, artillery, rocket launchers and missiles, even beyond their maximum range, according to Maj. General Bruce Scott, Chief of US Army Security Assistance Command, as reported in the Press Trust of India.

Notably, the U.S. has successfully pressured Israel to cancel its recently proposed sale of the Phalcon airborne radar system to India.  It seems the U.S. is walking a tightrope between preventing some high tech weapons from destabilizing the region and at the same time securing a substantial market share for the U.S. arms industry.       

U.S. officials stressed their radar offer was only the beginning of what they hope will be a burgeoning security relationship, which will eventually move beyond surveillance equipment to tanks and aircraft. 

In the case of Pakistan, Bush's thank you note, a $1 billion dollar aid package will include not only economic help but also $73 million in F-16 spare parts, and 6 Apache helicopters for border security.  U.S. officials say this too, is just the beginning of a new military-to-military relationship, which does not include any other aircraft, for the moment.

Maybe some good will come of all this.  Perhaps the conventional arms race between India and Pakistan will remain just that and their nuclear capability will ensure no overt hostile action on either side, much like the Cold War.  Maybe with more sophisticated surveillance and weaponry India and Pakistan can not only police each other but act as a stabilizing force for the region, curbing terrorism with their own big sticks, so the U.S. won't have to use theirs. 

However, the problem with those scenarios are that they don't take into account the motivations of India and Pakistan, as much as international concerns and the United State's interests.  (Not to mention the myriad of social and economic problems facing the region which take a back seat to military spending).  India doesn't see its new toys as solely for terrorism, but as weapons to use in a potential war with Pakistan and as a hedge against Chinese power.

Furthermore, as the U.S. arms Pakistan for better border security, and talks of future deals, it should recall that Musharraf has only been in power since 1999 and by way of a coup at that.  He says elections are planned for October. 

Moreover, Kashmir separatists will probably have access to the Pakistani arsenal.  As the United States seeks to squash terrorism it may help fund terrorists in the process and blow on an already ferocious fire.

Instead of taking advantage of India's 13.8 billion-dollar defense budget and helping to feed the addiction, the U.S. should pressure India to engage in negotiations over Kashmir.  In a region where people are slaughtering one another with nothing but gasoline fires and torches, it seems anathema to profit from selling them some of the most sophisticated weapons in the world. 



BBC:World:South Asia

Timeline: Ayodhya crisis

Financial Times, Special Report: India-Pakistan Tensions
"Tension between India and Pakistan worries US"


"Arms dealers see bonanza in stand-off"

The Guardian:

New Straits Times Press (Malaysian Newspaper)

IPS-Inter Press Service (Global News Service)

Human Rights Watch, Dangerous Dealings: Changes to U.S. Military
Assistance After September 11

Frida Berrigan
Research Associate,
World Policy Institute
66 Fifth Ave., 9th Floor
New York, NY 10011

ph 212.229.5808 x112 - fax 212.229.5579

The Arms Trade Resource Center was established in 1993 to engage in public education and policy advocacy aimed at promoting restraint in the international arms trade. www.worldpolicy.org/projects/arms

To sign up for our monthly email Updates, please contact Frida Berrigan.

For Part II

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