THE ROVING EYE US's 'arc of instability' just gets bigger
By Pepe Escobar
The New Great Game is not only focused on the face-off between the United
States and strategic competitors Russia and China - with Pipelineistan as a
The full spectrum dominance doctrine requires the control of the
Pentagon-coined "arc of instability" from the Horn of Africa to western China.
The cover story is the former "global war on terror", now "overseas contingency
operations" under the management of President Barack Obama's administration.
Most of all, the underlying logic remains divide and rule. As for the divide,
Beijing would call it, without a trace of irony, "splittist". Split up Iraq -
blocking China's access to Iraqi oil. Split up Pakistan - with an independent
Balochistan preventing China from
accessing the strategic port of Gwadar there. Split up Afghanistan - with an
independent Pashtunistan allowing the building of the Trans-Afghanistan
Pipeline bypassing Russia. Split up Iran - by financing subversion in Khuzestan
and Sistan-Balochistan. And why not split up Bolivia (as was attempted last
year) to the benefit of US energy giants. Call it the (splitting) Kosovo model.
Kosovo, incidentally, is known as the Colombia of the Balkans. What Washington
calls the "Western hemisphere" is a sub-section of the New Great Game. The
linkage between the recent military coup in Honduras, the return of the living
dead - that is, the resurrection of the US Navy's Fourth Fleet in July 2008 -
and now the turbo-charging of seven US military bases in Colombia is not to be
blamed merely on continuity from president George W Bush to Obama. Not really.
This is all about the internal logic of Full Spectrum Dominance.
Twelve South American nations, under the Union of South American Nations
umbrella, got together in Bariloche, Argentina, last week and after a heated
seven-hour discussion only managed to stress, somewhat meekly, that "foreign
troops cannot be a threat to the region" - in reference to the US military
presence in Colombia. At least President Lula da Silva of Brazil will be asking
Obama to get together with South American presidents and reveal what this new
military pact with Colombia is really all about.
Spin, of course, prevailed. Influential Brazilian conservative newspaper O
Globo, which for all practical purposes looks like it's been redacted in
Washington, practically blamed Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez for
It's instructive to examine how some of the sharpest South American minds view
it. Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano (whose book, Open Veins of Latin America
was offered to Obama by Chavez at the recent Organization of American States
summit) in an interview to an Ecuadorian paper, stressed how the US had spent a
century fabricating military dictatorships in Latin America, so when there's a
military coup, such as in Honduras, Washington is at a loss for words.
As for the military bases in Colombia, Galeano said they "offend not only Latin
America's collective dignity but one's intelligence".
The US has already set up three military bases in Colombia, plus a dozen radar
stations. Now this will be upgraded by the Colombian government to seven bases,
one of them - Palanquero - with air access to the whole hemisphere. Seven bases
in Colombia is a natural Pentagon response to the US losing the Manta base in
Ecuador, and losing its grip on now leftist Paraguay. Washington already trains
the Colombian armed forces, special forces and the national police.
The infamous Fort Benning-based School of the Americas, the flagship US
training ground for ultra-repressive military dictatorships, that is, the
"School of Assassins", re-baptized in 2001 the Western Hemisphere Institute of
Security Cooperation, trained not only over 10,000 Colombians, but the coup
leaders in Honduras as well.
Argentine political scientist Atilio Boron goes for the jugular; for him, "To
think that those troops and weapons systems are based in Latin America for some
reason other than to insure the territorial and political control of a region
that experts consider the richest one on the planet in terms of its natural
resources - water, energy, biodiversity, minerals agriculture, etc - would be
American political activist and author, Noam Chomsky, in an interview to
Venezuelan-American lawyer Eva Golinger during his recent visit to Venezuela,
explained how the "rose wave" of South American leftism is scaring Washington
so much that it's forcing it to collaborate with every government that would
have been summarily deposed a few decades ago. Chomsky refers to the Joao
Goulart government in Brazil, which was toppled in 1964, giving way, under US
supervision, to "the first national security state neo-Nazi-style". Lula's
policies today are not that different from Goulart's.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization all over
Colombia has received over US$5 billion from the Pentagon since Plan Colombia
was launched by president Bill Clinton way back in ... the year 2000. Colombian
President Alvaro Uribe rules over a captivating land infested with
paramilitaries and extra-judicial killings - scores of peasants and trade
unionists killed in cold blood. But he's praised in Washington as a
Isn't that swell? In a 1991 unclassified Pentagon intelligence report,
then-senator Alvaro Uribe Velez is described as "dedicated to collaboration
with the Medellin cartel at high government levels". The report stresses Uribe
"has worked for the Medellin cartel and is a close personal friend of Pablo
Escobar Gaviria", the archetypal, now dead, Colombian drug lord. No wonder
Uribe has always fiercely fought any possible form of extradition treaty.
Boron describes Uribe as "the empire's Trojan Horse". It's this Trojan Horse
that allows what is in fact a counter-insurgency operation to be packaged as a
"war on drugs". Needless to say, Colombia remains the number one supplier of
cocaine to the US - Plan Colombia or not.
The counter-insurgency is also in large part directed against, who else,
Venezuela's Chavez, who, in his innumerable casual moments, makes no secret
that he "knows Uribe, and his psychology, very well". Golinger, author of a
must-read book on Washington's overall strategy, Bush vs Chavez: Washington's
war on Venezuela, told Russia Today that "Plan Colombia really does not
have the objective of addressing directly the war on drugs"; it's more about
the "control of natural resources and strategic resources".
Way beyond Venezuela, this is all about the militarization of the Andes and
beyond. Colombia is, yes, the Trojan Horse in charge of policing virtually all
of South America, not to mention Central America, now that US political,
economic and military hegemony is shrinking by the hour.
The beauty of Plan Colombia is its one-size-fits-all status - from AfPak to
Mexico. Few people know that in April 2007, the former US ambassador to
Colombia, William Wood, was sent to Afghanistan to implement ... a Plan
Colombia, that is, counter-insurgency disguised as a war on drugs. Colombia is
a mirror of Afghanistan - and vice-versa. It goes without saying that
counter-insurgency-heavy Afghanistan - now under the supreme boot of former
death-squad operator to General Davis Petraeus in Iraq, General Stanley
McChrystal - still produces over 90% of the world's opium.
And inevitably that's where NATO comes in. The only part of the world where
NATO is still not active is ... South America. Few people also know that a few
months ago, the head of the Pentagon's Southern Command, Admiral James
Stavridis, became NATO supreme commander. Three of the past five NATO top
military commanders - Stavridis, Bantz Craddock and Wesley Clark - moved to
NATO glory from ... the Southern Command, certainly adding another meaning to
the gloomy expression "School of the Americas".
No wonder Bolivian President Evo Morales said in Cuba, in mid-July, "I have
first-hand information that the empire, through the US Southern Command, made
the coup d'etat in Honduras." And all this while not only Mexico and Argentina
- but also Brazil and Ecuador - are on their way to decriminalizing drugs.
War on drugs? So much for the cover story. More like the Pentagon stuck in the
business, to quote Galeano, of insulting Latin America's intelligence for a
long time to come.