Update, part 1
For Part II
Drugs, Fighting Guerrillas or Protecting Oil?
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.
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.
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Aid To Colombia
Timing: U.S. Arms Sales And The Indo-Pakistani Conflict
Stopping Drugs, Fighting Guerrillas
or Protecting Oil?
I. U.S. Aid To Colombia:
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
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
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."
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,"
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.
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."
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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."
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.
Sudden End to Peace Negotiations Puts Civilians at Risk
Call for Release of Abducted Senator
Fails Rights Test
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
Update by Adam Isacson, NACLA
Two Timing: U.S. Arms Sales
And The Indo-Pakistani Conflict
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.
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.
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
the British in 1947.
India and Pakistan have a million troops positioned
along their shared border.
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
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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,
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
to mention the myriad of social and economic problems
facing the region which take a back seat to military
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.
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.
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.
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.
Times, Special Report: India-Pakistan Tensions
between India and Pakistan worries US"
dealers see bonanza in stand-off"
Straits Times Press (Malaysian Newspaper)
Press Service (Global News Service)
Rights Watch, Dangerous Dealings: Changes to U.S. Military
After September 11
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For Part II