FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Nine Arguments for Nader

by Alexander Cockburn And Jeffrey St. Clair

Here’s a number that offers telling reasons for voting for Ralph Nader in the fall. Nine Democrats. Last week the US senate finally voted $934 million to wage war in Colombia. The House voted earlier this year to provide $1.7 billion in anti-narcotics aid for Colombia over a two year period. The Senate bill only covers the first year.

So where does the “nine Democrats” number figure in this picture? The sum total of puissant legislators who voted for Senator Paul Wellstone’s amendment, that would have taken $225 million from the $934 million and spend it instead on domestic drug treatment programs, consisted of nine Democrats and two Republicans. Here they are: Boxer (D-CA)(co-sponsor), Grams (R-MN) Murray (D-WA), Byrd (D-WV), Harkin (D-IA), Specter (R-PA), Dorgan (D-ND), Leahy (D-VT), Wellstone (D-MN), Feingold (D-WI), Mikulski (D-MD).

Notice how closely the numbers mimic the few cosponsors of Feingold’s bill to slap a moratorium on the federal death penalty. And where were those supposed liberals like Kennedy, Kerry, Bayh, Feinstein, Schumer, Torricelli, Levin, Durbin, Reid, Reed, Sarbanes? We need the Democrats to recapture Congress?

Here’s another number: nineteen,
being the senators who voted in favor of Slade Gorton’s (R-WA) amendment slashing the Colombia package from nearly one billion to $200 million in order to pay down the national debt: Allard (R-CO), Gorton (R-WA), Kohl (D-W), Boxer (D-CA), Gramm (R-TX), Leahy (D-VT), Collins (R-ME), Grams (R-MN, Mikulski (D-MD), Craig (R-ID), Gregg (R-NH), Murray (D-WA), Crapo (R-ID), Harkin (D-IA), Specter (R-PA, Enzi (R-WY), Hutchinson (R-AR), Thomas (R-WY), Fitzgerald (R-IL).

So here we have the alliance against folly in Colombia, cemented between Republican fiscal conservatives and the radical Democratic faction. If you toss in Feingold and Wellstone, who didn’t vote for Gorton’s amendment we reach a grand total of 21 senators unpersuaded by the administration’s arguments that the way to win the war on drugs here is to throw money into the banks accounts of Colombian military officers and Pentagon contractors. New Yorkers will note the absence of their two Democratic senators ? Moynihan and Schumer – from the list.

The administration is fighting a counterinsurgency war under the pretext of drug interdiction, as George W. Bush accurately points out. (Bush, please note, is all in favor of counter-insurgency in Colombia, thus buttressing allegations that he dealt cocaine in his Yale years. All dealers like prices supports for their product, which one of the prime consequences of US drug interdiction.)

What of the dreaded “narco-guerillas”?
As the Council on Hemispheric Affairs in Washington sensibly pointed out last week, “The FARC, founded by Marxist guerrillas decades before the emergence of cocaine production in Colombia, imposes ‘taxes’ on drug lords and coca farmers to fund their multi-million dollar military operations, its militants are rarely involved in the actual cultivation and trafficking of drugs. In fact, the right-wing paramilitary, which both the Colombian and U.S. governments acknowledge is responsible for 78 percent of the nation’s human rights violations, is known to be far more deeply involved in narco-trafficking than their leftist counterparts. While the U.S. aid package will undoubtedly reduce drug production, the paramilitary groups’ deep ties to the Colombian armed forces and large-scale dependence on the drug trade will invariably lead to selective eradication efforts.”

But all this commotion over the senate vote obscures the fact that the US is already waging a major bio-war in Colombia, evoking the bio-war waged with Agent Orange against Vietnam thirty five years ago. The Colombian national police force has already is already busy spraying from the air, with the financial backing of the U.S. Colombia is getting $330 million during this year and the next irrespective of the new Senate legislation).

As in Vietnam, aerial spraying has indiscriminately doused people, fields and livestock with poison. International observers say that the toxic effects of this spraying have destroyed vegetable crops and fruit orchards and contaminated streams and lakes, killing fish and farm animals. Several children have reportedly died after being doused by the spraying. Thus far, the hardy coca plant has been resistant to these poisons, flourishing in contaminated soil. McCaffrey’s triumph could be to wipe out all agriculture other than coca-growing. His next stroke, disclosed in the June 1-15 edition of CounterPunch, is to launch a fungus developed by US bio-warriors, designed to attack the coca plant and opium poppy. This fungus could, so to speak, jump the tracks and further devastate Colombian crops. Meanwhile, if conditions in Colombia prove too arduous, the drug lords will simply shift operations to Ecuador or Peru, just as they shifted from Bolivia to Colombia.

Back to the halls of Congress,
and yet another number for you. In a 363-56 vote reps of we-the-people defeated a motion that would have withdrawn the approval of Congress from the agreement establishing the WTO. Under the 1994 laws authorizing U.S. entry in the WTO the administration has to submit a report on the costs and benefits of membership. After the report is filed, any member of Congress can sponsor a resolution to withdraw from WTO.

Ron Paul of Texas duly did so, arguing that U.S. entry in the WTO is illegal and unconstitutional, Paul said. “It is the U.S. Congress that has the authority to regulate foreign commerce. Nobody else.” As with the senate resolution on Colombia put forward by Gorton, Paul and such Republican legislators as Bob Barr of Georgia formed common cause with anti-WTO radical Democrats like Kucinich or McKinney.

So there’s the math.
About 30 senators and 56 representatives can be relied upon to the right thing on big ticket items like wars abroad and the WTO. Against them are ranged the massed legislators of the Permanent Government , which is presently exerting itself mightily to keep Ralph Nader out of any debating venue for presidential candidates where he might have an opportunity to lay out these realities. CP

Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His new book is Killing Trayvons: an Anthology of American Violence (with JoAnn Wypijewski and Kevin Alexander Gray). He can be reached at: sitka@comcast.net. Alexander Cockburn’s Guillotined! and A Colossal Wreck are available from CounterPunch.

January 23, 2018
Carl Boggs
Doomsday Panic in Hawaii
Mark Ashwill
If I Were US Ambassador to Vietnam…
Jack Rasmus
US Government Shutdown: Democrats Blink…Again
Nick Pemberton
The Inherent Whiteness of “Our Revolution”
Leeann Hall
Trump’s Gift for the Unemployed: Kicking Them Off Health Care
Dean Baker
Lessons in Economics For the NYT’s Bret Stephens: Apple and Donald Trump’s Big Tax Cut
Mitchell Zimmerman
Law, Order and the Dreamers
Ken Hannaford-Ricardi
The Kids the World Forgot
Dave Lindorff
South Korea Slips Off the US Leash
Ali Mohsin
Extrajudicial Murder of Pashtun Exposes State Brutality in Pakistan
Jessicah Pierre
Oprah is No Savior
John Carroll Md
Keeping Haiti in Perspective
Amir Khafagy
Marching Into the Arms of the Democrats
January 22, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
It’s Time to Call Economic Sanctions What They Are: War Crimes
Jim Kavanagh
Behind the Money Curtain: A Left Take on Taxes, Spending and Modern Monetary Theory
Sheldon Richman
Trump Versus the World
Mark Schuller
One Year On, Reflecting and Refining Tactics to Take Our Country Back
Winslow Wheeler
Just What Earmark “Moratorium” are They Talking About?
W. T. Whitney
José Martí, Soul of the Cuban Revolution
Uri Avnery
May Your Home Be Destroyed          
Wim Laven
Year One Report Card: Donald Trump Failing
Jill Richardson
There Are No Shithole Countries
Bob Fitrakis - Harvey Wasserman
Are the Supremes About to Give Trump a Second Term?
Laura Finley
After #MeToo and #TimesUp
Howard Lisnoff
Impressions From the Women’s March
Andy Thayer
HuffPost: “We Really LOVED Your Contributions, Now FUCK OFF!”
Weekend Edition
January 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Dr. King’s Long Assassination
David Roediger
A House is Not a Hole: (Not) Caring about What Trump Says
George Burchett
How the CIA Tried to Bribe Wilfred Burchett
Mike Whitney
Trump’s Plan B for Syria: Occupation and Intimidation
Michael Hudson – Charles Goodhart
Could/Should Jubilee Debt Cancellations be Reintroduced Today?
Marshall Auerback – Franklin C. Spinney
Boss Tweet’s Generals Already Run the Show
Andrew Levine
Remember, Democrats are Awful Too
James Bovard
Why Ruby Ridge Still Matters
Wilfred Burchett
The Bug Offensive
Brian Cloughley
Now Trump Menaces Pakistan
Ron Jacobs
Whiteness and Working Folks
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Keeper of Crazy Beats: Charlie Haden and Music as a Force of Liberation
Robert Fantina
Palestine and Israeli Recognition
Jan Oberg
The New US Syria “Strategy”, a Recipe For Continued Disaster
ADRIAN KUZMINSKI
The Return of the Repressed
Mel Gurtov
Dubious Partnership: The US and Saudi Arabia
Robert Fisk
The Next Kurdish War Looms on the Horizon
Lawrence Davidson
Contextualizing Sexual Harassment
Jeff Berg
Approaching Day Zero
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail