July 3, 2008

McCain in Colombia

Why is John McCain in Colombia? The most reassuring theory I can come up with is that McCain intends to bring back a couple of sixty pound suitcases that the Secret Service will hustle for him through Customs. And soon Obama's big lead in campaign finance will have vanished. And there won't be anymore questions about McCain being too old to have the energy for the job as he starts campaigning 96 hours straight.

On the other hand, there are more alarming interpretations, such as that McCain is taking a serious interest in the geopolitical situation in Northern South America -- i.e., he wants to get us involved in a war there.

19 comments:

Lucius Vorenus said...

Or maybe he knows a good plastic surgeon down there.

PS: In case you've been living in a cave for the last six months, there's a megalomaniacal marxist-fascist tyrant in that neck of the woods, backed by billions and billions of dollars' worth of $140+/barrel crude, who's causing all sorts of trouble in the region.

Frankly, I wouldn't mind seeing a few Tomahawk cruise missiles heading down his chimney right before Dubya leaves office.

steve wood said...

Eh. There are more important things to worry about.

First of all, we have been involved in a war there - the so-called War on Drugs - for some time now.

Secondly, there are a lot of ways to be an interested party, and even to be an interventionalist, short of actually going to war.

And, thirdly, Colombia is in our backyard. There is a long history of US intervention - up to and including war - in Latin America, especially the northern part. Therefore, even if we do intervene in some way (in Colombia it would be cast as "support for the legitimate [not-so-coincidentally also friendly] government"), it would at least be an historically consistent intervention in a region within our sphere of influence.

Now is a bad time for us be involved in another war, for sure. But, despite the yearnings of many folks hereabouts, we will never hunker down inside our borders and watch the world go by. We never have; we are destined, for good or ill, for bigger things than that and have behaved as such throughout our history.

airtommy said...

we will never hunker down inside our borders and watch the world go by.

And it's also pretty obvious that it's way too late to close the multiculturalist barn door; the horses have long since fled. So let's just go ahead and shut down this blog, in fact most political blogs, and spend our time watching the latest foibles of Britney Spears.

OK, back to the world where Americans are allowed to discuss politics ... In fact, our long-standing intervention in Latin America has been generally bad for the Latin Americans. We keep getting floods of refugees who are fleeing American-sponsored terror/torture regimes for the safe shores of America.

If we allowed benign goverments to rule the continent, the people wouldn't be so desparate to escape. Chavez is a democratically elected leader with massive grassroots support. Venezuela has a very free and open media, which is for the most part controlled by Chavez' opposition and is used to instigate military coups against him.

anony-mouse said...

Maybe he helped out in that hostage rescue. He does have lots of experience being a prisoner.

testing99 said...

Steve, Luddite Isolation does not flatter you.

"Plan Columbia" which was Clinton's creation, is both important and vital to securing our interests in South America. Which is stability and keeping masses of Columbians and Venezuelans fleeing either a Castro-ite regime or narco-terrorist-guerillas.

Plan Columbia leverages discreet but vital US assistance in intel, particularly electronics, to break narco terrorists and produce some semblance of law and stability. Allowing economic space for Jose Average so he doesn't wind up in Houston or LA.

We're not going to "end" the drug problem, or drug trafficking, or anything like that. But for minimal effort (including a Free Trade Agreement with Columbia) we can keep say, 5 million Columbians at home instead of here.

Airtommy -- Latin America's problems stem mostly from producing and enabling guys like Pablo Escobar who use violence to destabilize society in extreme ways. US intervention to keep the thuggery to a minimum, allowing economic activity other than just drug trafficking and "plata y plomo" is vital. The broken Latin American societies can't do it themselves. US investment is minimal -- special forces and the like. Payout is huge -- far less turmoil.

IF ... a big IF but nevertheless, some small space for civil society in Latin America is created, maybe the people there can break free of the "Big Man" society and not all end up in US cities as economic/violence refugees. That would be nice. At a minimum we will be buying Latin American oil, coffee, bananas, sugar cane, copper, wine, and other resources. Trade in commodities is good (in Labor, bad) for America. Therefore we have an interest in dealing with fair democrats (even imperfect ones) rather than say, Chavez.

[McCain was in Columbia to pump up his support for the FTA and Plan Columbia.]

none of the above said...

Perhaps (I hope not!) he had prior briefing about the planned raid to rescue a bunch of hostages of FARC.

airtommy: Don't make the mistake of turning Chavez into some kind of good guy in order to justify not intervening there. Among other things, I believe Chavez had the most popular TV station in Venezuela shut down, basically for annoying him. He's also allegedly been linked with FARC, though that's based on a computer seized in a military raid, and there's some question about whether the evidence provided from that raid is to be believed. And I gather he's a pretty continuous asshole in interactions with nearby countries.

It's acceptable to just point out that we don't want to intervene. Yes, Saddam was a genuine monster. Yes, Iran is run by religious wingnuts. Yes, Venezuela is run by a thug. No, it's neither our job nor in our interests to do anything about that.

Eric said...

airtommy,

I don't know how you could possibly believe Venezuela has a free press, unless by "free" you mean "free to print nice things about Hugo Chavez."

And we haven't "sponsored" any governments in the region for twenty years. The immigrants coming now are coming for jobs, not to flee a nasty government.

Which brings us full circle, by the way, as your pal Hugo is grinding the Venezuelan economy into the mud with his horrid Marxist policies. We'll be getting lots of Venezuelans in a few years.

Anonymous said...

"On the other hand, there are more sinister interpretations, such as that McCain is taking a serious interest in the geopolitical situation in Northern South America -- i.e., he wants to get us involved in a war there."

Steve,

We've been involved in a war there for years -- Columbia's counterinsurgency against its narco-guerrillas -- and that war is going pretty well. In fact, it may be almost over, after four long decades, and may soon go into that short list of successful modern counterinsurgencies. We've also achieved this success with a low investment of money and manpower (especially compared to Afghanistan and Iraq). If anything, the example of our intervention in Colombia ought to give you cause for optimism -- you ought to prefer more of those sort of low-cost wars than the sort of stuff we've been doing in Iraq and Afghanistan.

- Fred

Svigor said...

Hey EN, I'm no expert on Colombia, so maybe you can help me out.

Aren't the narco-terrorists sort of a creation of "Plan Columbia"? Seems to me the feds escalated/instigated the conflict between the Colombian government and the cartels. First the Colombians smashed the Medellin cartel, then the Cali Cartel, with our help, then FARC filled the vacuum. Did I miss anything?

Personally I might've done a deal with the Cali cartel (Pablo had to go).

It's not an easy situation, AFAICT. We don't want coke flooding our streets, for good reason. Colombians want the billions our citizens are willing to spend on coke, for good reason. The Colombian government wants to stay in power, for good reason.

I just know Colombia's a friggin' nuthouse, and our drug habit has made and is making it a lot worse than it has to be.

beowulf said...

I dunno, I've always liked Hugo Chavez fan. He's a goofball sure and is no civil libertarian, but is he any worse than the various Arab dictators we prop up? If he's our enemy its because we've made him our enemy, or rather Bush has made him his enemy.

Have you seen the documentary, 'The Revolution Will Not Be Televised'?

An Irish film crew was with Chavez and his aides when the military launched a coup-- great great film. Chavez's opponents (the white elites, including much of the media) really make him look like a great guy in comparison, for example their first act upon seizing power, dissolving the other branches of government. The crew is filming when troops loyal to Chavez pay a visit to the coup leaders and force them to bring Chavez back to power.

You can watch the film online here--
http://tinyurl.com/rcucp

Svigor said...

And we haven't "sponsored" any governments in the region for twenty years.

Uhm, I think our relationship with the Colombian government constitutes sponsorship.

airtommy said...

Among other things, I believe Chavez had the most popular TV station in Venezuela shut down, basically for annoying him.

You may believe that, but you are wrong. You should reconsider your sources of information.

Chavez refused to renew the lease of a TV station because it had openly instigated the military coup. Could you imagine NPR calling for a military coup in America, then the military coup happens but ultimately fails, then Bush allows NPR to continue running for another year before failing to renew their lease?

airtommy said...

American policy in Colombia has nothing to do with cocaine. The Colombian government is an extension of the wealthy people in that country, and the wealth of that country derives from laundering drug profits. Uribe is drug money, Uribe's right-wing guerilla groups are drug money, and FARC is drug money. There is no clean money in Colombia.

As usual, America will kill as many people as it takes to keep a capitalist government in power and prevent socialists from gaining influence. Specifically, Plan Colombia was about militarizing the political conflict between the rich elite and poor peasants. Once the conflict became violent, the American press could follow the usual pattern of labeling right-wing violence as "counter-terrorism" while labeling left-wing violence as "terrorism".

Saint Thomas said...

"Frankly, I wouldn't mind seeing a few Tomahawk cruise missiles heading down his chimney right before Dubya leaves office."

Good Jesus in Heaven, Lucius Vorenus, I hope that my Vengeful God Himself smites you while you sleep. I pray for this. Oh, I hope His Lordship takes care of Mr. Sailer too. Preferably while he's eating a piece of chicken or something.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it's because at least two of his top advisers have lobbied for Columbian interests... has any enterprising reporter asked whether these interests met with him or attended his gatherings?

Kaprys said...

Steve, the reason McCain is touring Mexico and Colombia is to observe how America would look after a McCain presidency; like Mexico by 2012, Colombia by 2016.

James said...

I always give the anti-Chavez types a chance and they never fail to disappoint.

The idea that he closed down a tv station is nonsense, it can still broadcast as a non-terrestrial network (just as most American networks do). This is pretty lenient treatment for a station that backed a military coup against him and refused to offer coverage for the immense protests in his support that followed.

The notion that he is "grinding" their economy "into the mud" is equally laughable as the private sector actually increased in size under his tenure. Perhaps its those people he's starting to educate who'd previously have been left to rot in slums? That would suggest that statism can assist the economy though, would it not? And that nationalising industry and spending the profit on the people is worthwhile.

I can see why you wish to demonise this fellow, he's leaving your ideology in tatters...

I find it peculiar that the South American ruler who receives the most criticism is the one who has not only lost a referendum but honoured the results and seemingly the only one capable of helping the lives of the average citizen.

No doubt the right wishes to do their best to discredit their preposterous claim that there is no alternative to neo-liberalism. Understandable, but it forces them into some absurd attacks, not least due to the prop-up American dollars gives to Saudi Arabia, one of the nastiest regimes on the planet led by an outfit of genuine callous crooks.

David said...

One thing about neocons. They are all Ayn Rander-types.

Here

As can be gathered from a careful perusal of that quintessential site, neocons' positions on economics and foreign policy are monolithic to the point of being tribal. Is there an ethnic angle behind this? I report, you decide.

Intrigued liberal said...

Venezuela should be up their with Dubai and the Gulf states in terms of development given its huge oil revenues yet the country's extremes of wealth mirrors other South American societies. The anti-Chavez elites have had their chance and they've shown that their interests don't seem to coincide with the rest of the population.

The last thing the region needs right now is the intervention of McCain and his neocon buddies in support of these elites.