Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Hillary’s Pivot to the South: Meet James Stavridis


Has Hillary Earned The Right To Put This Guy In Line To Be President? Just Say No!

-by Dorothy Reik

As the words of yesterday's endorsement of Hillary by Bernie were spoken, the NY Times was reporting the vetting of Admiral (ret.) James Stavrides as her Vice President. While the Times seemed to think the investigation into his use of a military plane to ferry his wife to a vineyard wine tasting might cause him problems, my thoughts turned to war. Stavrides has headed up both the Southern Command and NATO. Which way to turn.

Stavrides is a big proponent of "smart power"-- that doesn’t mean peace-- it means a hidden war which combines brute force with a modicum of soft persuasion. When he was asked for an example, Stavrides gave one: Plan Colombia! He explained to US News: "Colombia 10 to 15 years ago was a lot like Afghanistan is today, but through the application of smart power, today we have productive negotiations ongoing between the main Colombia rebel faction, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and the government of Colombia.”

In Colombia the picture was not so rosy. Telesur reports on this "smart" power solution:
Almost as many people have been displaced in Colombia as in Syria. Some of that violence has been caused by the implementation of the United States' Plan Colombia "aid" package, which has funded an unfettered militarization of Colombia since 2000.

Plan Colombia is a counternarcotics and counterinsurgency military aid package launched by then U.S. President Bill Clinton. Its legacy is massacres, mass graves, and death squads.

On the 15th anniversary of the plan, Feb. 4, 2016, the current U.S. president, Barack Obama, is announcing a revamped version of it, meeting with Colombian President Santos for talks.

The United States' contribution of military personnel and billions of dollars to fight Colombia's drug trade and contribute to security to counter the internal conflict with rebel guerrillas has coincided with an increase in violence and an unfettered militarization-- conspicuous as some three-quarters of Plan Colombia’s aid money has gone toward funding the military and local police.

Plan Colombia's legacy will now be entrenched in the violence, deaths and forced disappearances that already existed in high numbers because of the ongoing civil war between the Colombian army, paramilitary troops and guerrilla fighters.
Neither Bill nor Hillary worried much about the women:
Six women were raped every hour in Colombia during the first nine years of Plan Colombia. That figure was taken from a joint survey done by women’s rights organizations, which include Oxfam and other Colombian based groups. The study also revealed that some 489,678 women were victims of some type of sexual violence, while 7,752 had been forced into prostitution between 2000-2009-- what were integral years for the controversial deal.

Plan Colombia is a counternarcotics and counterinsurgency military aid package launched in 2000 by then U.S. President Bill Clinton. Over the last 15 years, it contributed military personnel and billions of dollars to help Colombia fight the drug trade and left-wing guerrillas which the government had been fighting with for decades.

However, according to human rights groups in the country, the deal has been a disaster.

“What we see is that drug trafficking was strengthened and there was a lot of repression, a lot of contamination of the environment, and the level of violation of human rights of Colombians increased,” Nidia Quintero, general-secretary of the campesino rights group Fensuagro, told teleSUR.

As about three-fourths of Plan Colombia’s aid money has gone toward funding the military and local police, the result has been mainly unfettered militarization of the country. This is true particularly in the first seven years of the plan, from 2000 to 2007, when U.S. assistance would routinely exceed US$600 million per year, with over 80 percent of it going to the security forces, according to numbers by the Washington Office of Latin America.

This, added to the violence, deaths and forced disappearances that already existed in high numbers because of the ongoing civil war between the Colombian army, paramilitary troops and guerrilla fighters.

And according to Quintero, those who continue to bear the brunt of the burden is women.

Sexual violence against women in the country has not just been an unfortunate consequence of war, but rather a direct military strategy, according to human rights lawyer Milena Montoya.

“Raping a woman is a spoil of war,” Montoya, who is also the secretary of the executive board for the human rights advocacy group Lazos de Dignidad (Ties of Unity), told teleSUR. “To violate a woman creates terror in other women. So, this has been one of those practices that military groups, the Colombian army as well as the U.S. army, have implemented in order to keep the population submissive and living in terror.”
“Over the past five decades, around 220,000 people have been killed and millions more displaced by the internal conflict.”

And Telesur goes two steps further than Amnesty International in their condemnation of Plan Colombia:
First, the human rights group does not mention that Plan Colombia was initiated in the midst of peace talks between the Colombian government and FARC guerillas, and actually played a key role in derailing these talks, and with them the prospects for peace-- prospects which have only been revived recently.

Second, Amnesty International does not mention that the paramilitaries which continue to collaborate with the U.S.-backed military in Colombia were actually a creation of the U.S. Thus, these paramilitaries were the brainchild of the Kennedy Administration back in 1962  -  that is, two years before the FARC guerillas were even constituted.

As Noam Chomsky has mentioned a number of times, Kennedy commenced the U.S.’s counterinsurgency program, of which paramilitaries were a key component, in order to combat the scourge of Liberation Theology unleashed by Vatican II. And indeed, as Chomsky has also noted, the U.S. School of the Americas has bragged about how it helped “destroy liberation theology,” which emphasizes the “preferential treatment of the poor.”

Colombia has been ground zero for this plan which has targeted, among others, Catholic clergy for assassination. Accordingly, as documented by the Episcopal Conference of Colombia, over 80 Catholic clergy have been murdered in Colombia since 1984-- including 79 priests and 2 bishops-- for the crime of advocating on behalf of the poor.
But Stavrides tells US News that Plan Colombia is a success: "Take Colombia, for example. I don't think anyone would look at Colombia today and say that it is failing. This positive outcome is an example of the effective application of smart power-- it is succeeding."

How many more "successes" can Latin American take? Well Stavrides thinks we should "help" Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua. Notice the relationships he is seeking are military-to-military: "Further, during my tour at U.S. Southern Command, we worked hard to have productive military-to-military relationships with them, and I think it is unfortunate that there appear to be deliberate efforts to try to antagonize the U.S.-- and that's what I take away from the Snowden episode. It is unfortunate, but I think the U.S. will continue to try to foster good relations with those states. However, it does not serve those nations well to offer asylum to a fugitive from U.S. justice."

I wonder what he and Hillary have in mind? Can you spell “coup”? It’s spelled H-O-N-D-U-R-A-S.

Stavrides also pointed to the Balkans as a "smart power" success story-- but that is for another time.

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At 12:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only goal of American foreign policy is the installation of a local government which the US can control. Any crocodile tears shed for "the people" is but an attempt to hide this fact from those who would oppose such actions. The neocon goal is to dominate the world.

At 2:00 PM, Anonymous AntiSpin said...

The only problem with the Columbian drug trade -- as far as the US is concerned -- is not with the trade itself, that's fine; it's with any trafficker who launders his cash anywhere other than in the US.

That's what the Columbian "drug war" has been all about; that, and making sure that no people power is allowed to develop in the country.


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