Wednesday, May 28, 2003

"Harken unto me, read thou my lips, for verily I say that wheresoever the CIA putteth in its meathooks upon the world, there also are to be found those substances which God may have created but the U.S. Code hath decided to control. Get me? Now old Bush used to be head of CIA, so you figure it out."

From the preface of a recent book, Drugs, Oil, and War: The United States in Afghanistan, Colombia, and Indochina:

"This book [...] explores the underlying factors that have engendered a U.S. strategy of indirect intervention in Third World countries through alliances with drug-trafficking proxies. This strategy was originally developed in the late 1940s to contain communist China; it has since been used to secure control over foreign petroleum resources. The result has been a staggering increase in the global drug traffic and the mafias assorted with it, a problem that will worsen until there is a change in policy.

[...] Today drug networks are important factors in the politics of every continent. The United States returns repeatedly to the posture of fighting wars in areas of petroleum reserves with the aid of drug-trafficking allies (or what I call drug proxies) with which it has a penchant to become involved. Surprisingly, this is true even in Colombia, where we are nominally fighting a war on drugs; yet the chief drug-trafficking faction, the paramilitaries, are allies of our allies, the Colombian army. Worse, they are the descendants of yet another clever CIA notion -- to train terrorists to fight the left -- which has once again come back to haunt us.

[...] These problems facing America are by no means entirely of its own making. But one recurring cause, commonly recognized, is U.S. dependence on foreign oil and its need to control international oil markets. Past U.S. support for drug proxies is another more covert and less recognized contributing factor, one that must be acknowledged if the root causes for these crises are to be addressed.

Conversely, the great resistance that still exists to acknowledging past U.S. involvement in and responsibility for covert intrigues contributes to our present inability to bring true peace and security to the rest of the world. The agencies responsible for past errors are too concerned to preserve not only their reputations but their alliances and, above all, the corrupt social systems in which such alliances have thrived. Consequently an international drug traffic, which the United States helped enlarge, continues to thrive.

I shall argue in this book that covert operations, when they generate or reinforce autonomous political power, almost always outlast the specific purpose for which they were designed. Instead they enlarge and become part of the hostile forces the United States has to contend with. To put it in terms I find more precise, parapolitics, the exercise of power by covert means, tends to metastasize into deep politics, an interplay of unacknowledged forces over which the original parapolitical agent no longer has control. This is the heart of the analysis.

[...] In short the etiology or origin of global terrorism is rooted partly in the historical context of previous U.S. policy decisions with respect to both drugs and oil. I say this not to cast blame but to suggest the proper direction to search for solutions. Decision makers of a half century ago cannot be faulted for lacking the foreknowledge that comes more easily in retrospect. It is, however, not too late to address the legacy they have left us -- a suspect affluence grounded in part on the impoverishment of the rest of the world. As long as that legacy is not corrected, we can be sure that the problem of terrorism will remain with us. [...] "

Monday, May 26, 2003

Ted Rall's comic today, Gitmo House, puts a black comedy spin on the US treatment of teenaged detainees who have been abused at Guantanamo Bay.

"It is the boy's smile, in any case, that we return
to, direct and radiant, proceeding out of an
unhesitating faith that the world, at the end of the
day, is good, and that human decency, like parental
love, can always be taken for granted--a faith so
honorable that we can almost imagine Orwell, and
perhaps even ourselves, for a moment anyway, swearing
to do whatever must be done to keep it from ever being
--Thomas Pynchon, Foreword to 1984, pp. xxv-xxvi. (The Guardian has published an edited version online).