War: July 2010 Archives

America's backyard

We still haven't heard one peep from the commercial media/entertainment news corporations (even the simple fact that something's happening), but Mark Vorpahl has written an articulate and persuasive description of what's really behind the U.S. flotilla en route to the southern Caribbean (Mare Nostrum, or our "Fourth Shore"), "The U. S. Military Moves Into Costa Rica".

I am entirely in agreement with his conclusions. Anyone who would prefer not to be completely surprised by another shooting war, or the next U.S.-backed coup attempt, should read what he has to say.

An excerpt:

Most of these measures [recent U.S. military operations in Central and northern South America] have been justified on the grounds of combating drug trafficking, including the military buildup in Costa Rica. However, they have not curtailed this problem at all. Such U.S. military buildups have generally been accompanied by an increase in drug trafficking, as has happened in both Columbia and Afghanistan. Based on this record it can only be concluded that the "War on Drugs" rationale is a red herring for public relations consumption, not the actual motivation.

This military build up in Costa Rica is the latest in a series of moves the U.S. has made in Latin America that seeks to use threats and arms to reverse the strength of popular anti-imperialist forces across the region. The U.S. is playing with the possibility of erupting a continental conflagration for the sake of corporate profits.

While it is doubtful that the U.S. wants to directly engage in a military conflict with, most likely, Venezuela right now, preparations for this possibility are being made. What is more likely in the short term is that the U.S. military will use its forces to engage in sabotage and intimidation in hopes of reversing support for the nations aligned with ALBA. It is also very possible that the U.S. military will help to support proxy armies, such as Colombia's, in military conflicts that align with U.S. interests. However, this is a dangerous game. Even in the short term, the U.S. ruling class may drag the nation into another direct conflict, in spite of their intentions, that could spread to involve numerous other nations.

[image from Map of the United States (the irony was not likely intended)]

Coca (Erythroxylum coca)


This extended discussion on Upside Down World, published July 15, includes a statement that the idea of the U.S. military presence did not originate in a request from Costa Rica; rather it was initiated by the U.S. in a diplomatic request from the US Embassy made on July 1.

Also, in its own post on the Costa Rican story [in Spanish, but easily translated], the Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz describes the operation as "continuing the process of the militarization of Central America" and refers to it as a part of the continuing U.S. agenda for Latin America, which has recently seen the establishment of seven bases in Colombia, intensified militarization in Honduras and Haiti, the announcement of new bases in Panama.

On July 2nd the Congress of Costa Rica authorized the entry of 46 U.S. warships capable of carrying 200 helicopters and warplanes, plus 7,000 U.S. Marines "who may circulate the country in uniform without any restrictions", plus submarine killer ships, to the Costa Rican coast for "anti-narcotics operations and humanitarian missions".

Where's the outrage? Actually, where in fact is the news?

I have not found a single line on this story anywhere in the MSM.

I think the media silence is probably the first thing which should be questioned (have we all, including the world at large, become inured to yet another attestation to the expanding American imperial lust?).

But I am just as shocked by the news itself. Why is this happening?

Is it because we've done so well with both our former and continuing foreign wars and interventions? Is it because we've done so well with our internal war on drugs, or because our impact on the drug traffic in other countries has been so benevolent?

Or does it actually have nothing to do with interventions, or drugs? I'd like to hear from people who are familiar with Costa Rica and have followed the events about which we currently hear nothing.

So far Costa Rica is only asking for "help", but remember how "helpful" our innate imperialist impulse has been elsewhere for two centuries. I can't imagine why any Latin American country would actually welcome the arrival of the U.S. military, unless of course there were banana kings running things at the top, or at least a right-wing regime, and they/it were worried about losing control. Oh, wait, bananas are still a major Costa Rican export, and the government, while enlightened, is still composed of members of an entrenched oligarchy, and by most accounts its biggest concern lately has been "security".

The current president, Laura Chinchilla Miranda, who follows the modest centrist welfare policies of the National Liberation Party and promises to continue the free-trade policies of her predecessor, Óscar Arias, is a social conservative who opposes abortion and gay marriage. But, more significant to the story of her nation's call for U.S. Military help, she ran on a platform which promised to be tough on crime, and it included a larger and more professional law enforcement establishment. Sworn in two and a half months ago, one of her first acts was to create the nation's first anti-drug "czar", whose office is a part of the cabinet.

For half a century Costa Rica had enjoyed peace and political stability, and, overall an impressive growth in economic prosperity and social welfare systems, but beginning in the 90's the country began to witness the rise of its own version of American neo-liberalism, which threatens the moderate socialism built up in the previous decades. It all sounds very American to me. The only thing missing was a security panic of their own and an indigenous drug war, and they've just ordered both.

But not everyone in Costa Rica is happy.

For a good discussion of the issues (with some reservation about a mostly-irrelevant postscriptive remark about the brave and unselfish volunteers in uniform), go to Costa Rica Blogger.

[all thanks to artist Pedro Velez for the Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz post alert]

[image from Wikipedia]

This page is an archive of entries in the War category from July 2010.

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