Mar 7, 2008

Democratic Candidates' Foreign Policy: as Misguided as Bush's

Colombia, backed with millions of US military aid over the past few decades, the source of much of the South American drug trade, and a brutal government whose practices are condemned by almost every human rights group, invades Ecuador, probably with intelligence and technical assistance from the United States, under the guise of “self defense.”

Naturally, President Bush supports the attack, saying that Colombia has a right to “defend itself.” I would expect no less from the war criminal in chief of our country, who has now invaded two countries, Afghanistan and Iraq, out of a “right to defend.”

In the case of Iraq, we have known for many years now that the invasion was justified on false, fabricated, or deliberately distorted information and an intention to control the second largest oil source in the Middle East. (And as the years spin by more information from various sources and countries is revealed to confirm that the invasion of Iraq was not justified and was a clear violation of International laws, laws incorporated into our Constitution as the supreme law of the land.)

In the case of Afghanistan, I at first thought thought that at least in that case we were justified, but further reading and research over the years has convinced me that my discomfort with the minimal diplomatic strategy, lack of immediate and massive criminal investigation, and the failures to give the citizens of this country hard evidence of who was responsible for the 9-11 attacks, was a correct response. I never bought the argument that we were in an everlasting war against terror.

I had other specific reasons as well. The first is that Bush demanded that the Taliban—the oppressive government ruling Afghanistan in 2001—turn over Osama bin Laden to us. The Taliban asked for evidence of bin Laden's guilt. I truly thought that the President would have shown the evidence for all the world and the American public to see, but none was forthcoming.

The second is that months after the invasion, the FBI admitted that they still had not conclusively determined that bin Laden was responsible for the attacks. In his testimony before Congress, FBI director Robert Muller indicated that investigators “believed” and “thought” that bin Laden was responsible for the attack, but was unable to state conclusively that they were.

The third reason is that President Bush—without informing Congress, illegally began deploying materiel and troops to the Middle East in preparation for the invasion of Iraq. And finally, what spurred me to suspect further was when President Bush declared that he wasn't concerned about capturing Osama bin Laden any more. That implied to me that operations in Afghanistan had been a pretense.

I don't believe that most Americans easily accept Bush's abandonment of his intentions to bring bin Laden to justice. Bush desires a legacy, but surely his failure to go after bin Laden, as he boasted he would do shortly after 9-11, will be seen as one of the more damning failures in his presidency.

The man is incorrigible. Having decided that invading another country has been justified in the past, he has no hesitation to support another country refusing to pursue diplomatic means and refraining from attack. Thus, he does not even chastise Colombia for having violated international law by invading Ecuador, and then indicating that Colombia was justified in so doing. Immediately he sanctions Columbia's raid.

The Organization of American States, however, had the courage to speak out and chastise Colombia. The bottom line, they said, was that the borders of a country were not to be violated. Columbia at first tried to explain that they had been in hot pursuit of the rebel FARC group, but that was quickly dropped when evidence showed that the attack had been made against the camp while the members were sleeping. Further, Colombia actually went to the site and took away two bodies, one being the leader of the FARC, Raul Reyes, and some computers, leaving the other corpses and some survivors behind.

Now, you would have thought that at least some judicious comments would have been made by the Democratic candidates, but none were. Obama has built so much of his campaign on his judgment in being against the Iraq War, but it is clear to me now that violation of International law in invading another country is not part of his reasons for opposing the war. Instead, he indicates—as quoted by Robert Naiman for that Colombia has “every right to defend itself against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)” and refers to the invasion of Ecuador as a “targeted killing.” And indeed, this strikes me as being very close to the rationale he gave for carrying out a strike within Pakistan based on “actionable intelligence.”

Even worse, I think, is Hillary Clinton's statement outrageous criticism of Hugo Chavez for moving troops to secure Venezuela's border, and implying that Ecuador has allowed itself to be a “safe haven” for the FARC. Ecuador is expected to cooperate with Colombia, which has just committed acts of aggression against it. Clinton cannot see beyond the cliché that Chavez is "a dictator" even though he has been democratically elected, and indeed, even had the balls to admit defeat of his proposed changes to the Constitution were the "voice of the people." I know he's a blowhard, I know he doesn't like the government of the United States. He's not a "dictator" in the way that Augusto Pinochet was. Of course, such distinctions are incapable of being made by our politicians. Let's prefer the politically correct conservative clichés above all.

I don't know about you, but I am extremely concerned by the responses of our two Democratic candidates to the Colombian action. It tells me that at best they are “Bush lite” and have accepted as normal the same kind of aggressive behavior, with no thought of handling the matter in a truly diplomatic fashion. Their responses on the matter show me that we are not going to get very much of a change if either is elected.

That's a real shame. It tells me that this country is really heading in a direction that will continue to make us more and more irrelevant to the rest of the world, no matter who enters the White House on January 20, 2009.

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