The Guardian 20 April, 2005

Culture and Life

by Rob Gowland

"War on drugs"

US government "black ops" clandestine operations that would not be allowed if publicly acknowledged are a source of anger and embarrassment to democratically- minded Americans. In their efforts to uncover and expose these anti-democratic acts, they scour official US government documents for scraps of evidence that may have slipped through.

And sometimes they hit pay dirt. Of sorts.

The US government's largely bogus "war on drugs" is and has always been a major cover for covert operations by US intelligence agencies, Pentagon "black ops" units and all the other secretive sections of the "unknown government" of the most powerful country on earth.

After reviewing "recently distributed federal-procurement documents" (lists with specifications of the various things US government departments and agencies propose to buy in the current period), "war on drugs" commentator Stephen Peacock in The Narco News Bulletin was able to draw some interesting conclusions.

Narco News keeps watch on the "war on drugs" and by so doing performs a service for us all. For the "war on drugs" is but one front in the big US corporations' war against not only the American people but the people of the whole world.

Stephen Peacock's perusal of the procurement documents revealed that "the US Dept of Defense (DoD) and the State Dept are preparing to intensify and expand" their military and quasi-military activities "in South America, Central America and the Caribbean" under the convenient cover of greatly expanded efforts at "drug interdiction and aerial crop- eradication".

Drug interdiction is a perfectly legitimate term used to describe the interrupting of drug supply by attacking any or all aspects of the trade, from initial crop to processing to transport and distribution.

In South and Central America, however, where drug trafficking has been aided and abetted by successive US administrations as a means of financing and other-wise assisting right-wing political groups and military castes, drug interdiction has assumed a different meaning, or rather, two meanings.

The first is to stop the local left-wing forces from selling cocaine to fund their anti-imperialist activities. This despite the fact that in Colombia, for example, the policies of the US authorities and their local clients the Colombian government, police and army, have resulted in coca leaf being almost the only cash crop the peasants can now grow.

However, as with drug trafficking from other global hot spots at different times the Golden Triangle in Indo-China during the Vietnam War, Afghanistan once the pesky Russians had been removed, Contra-controlled areas of Nicaragua, Kosovo, etc only folk considered friendly or useful to US strategic aims are permitted to take part in the highly profitable trade.

The other meaning of "drug interdiction" in the Americas is as a cover for military or paramilitary actions against any and all opponents of pro-imperialist, anti-popular regimes, especially those in Colombia. Movements, villages, organisations or individuals need only to be identified as "narco traffickers" by the government or the police or military to make reprisals against them not only permissible but "honourable".

"Aerial crop-eradication" falls into this category too, for naturally those villages growing coca-leaf for the Colombian military are not sprayed. Destroying all crops, regardless of what they are, is a prime method of trying to crush peasant resistance, and US policy in Colombia makes plentiful use of it.

Amongst the signs found by Stephen Peacock of Narco News pointing to a major expansion of the US policy of intervention in South America, Central America and the Caribbean, was the discovery that "the US government is actively soliciting the help of mercenaries whose sole function will be to locate and rescue missing or captured Drug War personnel".

I doubt that that would be their "sole function", but that's beside the point. The US has so much military involvement in Latin America that they have an entire Command devoted to that area alone, US Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM).

As Peacock notes, the hiring of what are euphemistically called "private-sector contractors" to perform "personnel recovery" missions for USSOUTHCOM "is coinciding with other initiatives in and around Colombia.

"For instance, the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) simultaneously is arranging to buy millions of gallons of jet fuel through 2009 to supply Colombian national police and military posts, camps and stations, the documents show.

The US Department of Defense (DoD) is going to use the mercenaries (oops, private sector contractors) "to set up posts throughout the region". These posts will supposedly be for "carrying out reconnaissance missions for the Pentagon and its Latin American allies".

I have no doubt that, once in place, and no doubt for a suitable adjustment in their pay, these mercenaries would be available for other activities as required, probably on a "job by job" basis.

Whatever their real purpose, the US DoD is in a hurry: it wants the "contractors" to be in place and set up shop by May 2005.

A DoD work statement obtained by Peacock says that "The countries identified for immediate contractor support are Peru and Bolivia". Both these countries are the scene of popular movements against US policies and for national independence and programs of social progress.

The work statement blithely goes on to say: "Future support may be required in other Central and South American countries and is likely in the countries of Colombia, Panama, Ecuador and Venezuela."

Is that clear enough?

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