Thursday, March 23, 2006

Drug Wars 

Ok this is going a little far afield, switching from the worlds best-known black commodity to the worlds best-known white commodity. Still, reading this made me sick enough to want to comment on:

A federal grand jury in Washington has indicted 50 commanders of Colombia's largest Marxist rebel group, accusing them of running an extensive cocaine trafficking cartel that protects its operations through widespread killings and intimidation, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales announced Wednesday.

The indictment accuses the group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, of being behind 50 percent of the world's cocaine trade and 60 percent of the cocaine exported to the United States.

"We believe these men are responsible for not only manufacturing and exporting devastating amounts of cocaine, but enforcing their criminal regime with violence," Mr. Gonzales said.

The practical impact is unclear, since 47 of the 50 commanders remain free in this vast country, leading thousands of fighters in the group's relentless effort to topple President Álvaro Uribe's government. Three are in Colombian custody, and the United States will seek their extradition, American officials said.

The indictment says rebel commanders ordered their fighters to shoot down crop dusters and to kidnap and kill American citizens, in an effort to dissuade policy makers in Washington from continuing to sponsor a fumigation campaign against the coca plant, from whose leaves cocaine is made.

Some charges in the document may be hard to prove, like those linking commanders to drug operations years ago when the rebel group was believed to be far less involved in the cocaine trade.

But high-ranking Colombian government officials interviewed in Bogotá on Wednesday welcomed the indictment, saying it demonstrated the Bush administration's long-term commitment to Mr. Uribe, the United States' closest ally in Latin America.

"We see this as a recognition of the clear relationship between terrorism and narcotrafficking," said Defense Minister Camilo Ospina. "This shows that a big decision has been made to carry out the final battle against narcotrafficking and terrorism."

This is so surreal it’s hard to know where to begin. First off, who appointed the U.S. the controlling legal authority of the entire world that they can now go around indicting citizens of other countries that have probably never even been in the United States much less committed any crime there? This is simply the unparalled arrogance that comes from having unrivaled military power.

Unfortunately this arrogance seems to actually be welcomed by the current Colombian political leadership. The reason for this would seem to be that these indictments are really a way of targeting an insurgency that is the enemy of both the U.S. and Colombian governments. Now I'm not all that knowledgeable about Colombia and its ongoing guerilla wars but I've always found it difficult to believe that the left wing guerillas are the prime interlocutors of the drug traffickers. I certainly don't think Pablo Escobar and the private paramilitaries he helped to create were any great friends of the FARC. What’s more, is always struck me that whenever the FARC is shown they seem to be a ragtag group with improvised weaponry. I would think that if they were really responsible for half the world’s cocaine trade they could at least afford to equip themselves with proper boots and not need to fashion their rocket launchers out of used gas cylinders.

But be the FARCs involvement in the drug trade what it may, its still manifestly absurd that the U.S. reserves to itself the right to prosecute the citizens of other countries. Or maybe this isn't arrogance on the part of the U.S. Maybe it is some new fangled aspect of international law that is just now being put in to practice. Any country now has the right to put on trail and punish nationals of any other country that it thinks have brought harm to it.

Well, if that’s the case, things could get interesting. Maybe Colombia should indict the 5 or 10 million cocaine users in the United States. I just saw a show on Bogotá’s "Modelo" prison. I'm sure the gringo crack addicts would really enjoy a stay there. Hopefully they would have enough sense to keep their heads down while the paramilitary half of the prison shoots it out with the FARC half. Of course, 10 million gringos wouldn't fit there so I'm not sure what they would do with the rest. Maybe they could use them to help bring in the coffee harvest or supply all Colombian households with free domestic help.

Anyways, I really hope this all goes forward. It should be fun to watch. I'll particularly enjoy watching Mohamed Karzai do hard time in Leavenworth for letting the Afghan poppy crop break all sorts of records. On sure he is next on the U.S.'s list of people to indict.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?