A few years ago, Washington media consultant John Rendon was regaling an audience of cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy with one of his favorite war stories.
When victorious U.S. troops rolled into Kuwait City, he noted, they were greeted by hundreds of Kuwaitis waving American flags. The scene, flashed around the world again and again on CNN, left little doubt that the U.S. Marines were welcome in Kuwait.
"Did you ever stop to wonder," he asked, "how the people of Kuwait City, after being held hostage for seven long and painful months, were able to get hand-held American, and for that matter, the flags of other coalition countries?"
Columbia's launch has been delayed by at least 24 hours due to cold weather. Current schedule is for 6:22am Eastern on Friday, but the most recent weather forecast had a 70% chance of a 48 hour delay.
Lords back cloning research: in a decision from the House of Lords today, The U.K. is allowing research into therapeutic cloning to continue under licenses issued by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority under a 1990 law.
From a comment to a Toast and Tea post, I found Helping Colombia Fix Its Plan to Curb Drug Trafficking, Violence, and Insurgency, where The Heritage Foundation points out problems with Plan Columbia, the 1999 Columbian plan to achieve peace. The U.S. is supporting the plan through the Andean Regional Initiative and the Andean Counterdrug Initiative, which Bush is expanding to include protection for the Caņo-Limon oil pipeline.
A closer examination of Plan Colombia reveals its true objective to be the preservation of the political, social and economic status quo through the implementation of a "carrot and stick" strategy. As is evident in the initial installment of overseas aid--the $1.3 billion U.S. aid package--the Plan intends to utilize a huge stick while offering a tiny carrot. The stick, approximately 80 percent of the U.S. aid, is for the Colombian military and police. The remainder constitutes the carrot: eight percent is going to alternative development; six percent to human rights programs; four percent to the displaced; two percent to judicial reform; and less than one percent to support the ongoing peace process.
Plan Colombia is based on a drug-focussed analysis of the roots of the conflict and the human rights crisis which completely ignores the Colombian state's own historical and current responsibility. It also ignores deep-rooted causes of the conflict and the human rights crisis. The Plan proposes a principally military strategy (in the US component of Plan Colombia) to tackle illicit drug cultivation and trafficking through substantial military assistance to the Colombian armed forces and police. Social development and humanitarian assistance programs included in the Plan cannot disguise its essentially military character. Furthermore, it is apparent that Plan Colombia is not the result of a genuine process of consultation either with the national and international non-governmental organisations which are expected to implement the projects nor with the beneficiaries of the humanitarian, human rights or social development projects. As a consequence, the human rights component of Plan Colombia is seriously flawed.
We saw many remnants of the old Putumayo during CIP's March 9-12 trip there. It is still a beautiful place, overwhelming the eye with vivid green. But we also saw forests knocked down to grow illegal crops, armed groups operating freely, fields devastated by herbicides, and widespread poverty and fear. We were strongly dismayed by the United States' role there, as Putumayo is the main destination of Washington's controversial plan to fumigate drug crops, supported by hundreds of millions of dollars in mostly military aid.
We had come to Putumayo to evaluate this program in the wake of its first phase, an eight-week blitz of aerial herbicide spraying that had ended one month earlier. The policy's supporters call the U.S.-sponsored effort a "balanced approach." But so far it has been purely military, with not a dime spent yet on economic assistance programs that might prevent farmers from moving and re-planting coca, the plant used to make cocaine. We found that the zone where fumigations occurred is dominated not by so-called "industrial" coca plantations, but by families who are now running out of food. We found truth behind claims that the spraying had negative health effects and destroyed legal crops, including alternative development projects. We were disturbed by evidence that the fumigations proceeded more smoothly because of a paramilitary offensive in the zone to be sprayed. We found that the people of Putumayo want to stop growing coca, and that they have clear proposals for how U.S. assistance can help them make a living legally.
Hindsight is 20/20, but not just a few people saw this one coming from the start.