Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

US Shouldn't Aid Colombia's Military

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

US Shouldn't Aid Colombia's Military

Article excerpt

Regarding "Drugs pulling United States into Colombia's war" (July 27), it is unfair to blame Colombia for the supply of cocaine and heroin in the US.

According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, in 1998, 130,000 acres of coca were grown in Peru, 97,000 acres in Bolivia, and 200,000 acres in Colombia. But the US in 1999 gave $289 million in military aid to Colombia, while giving only $17 million to Bolivia, and $1 million in alternative development aid for Peru.

Almost all of the aid to Colombia was in the form of Black Hawk helicopters and other heavy weapons.

The Drug Enforcement Administration estimates that Colombia produces only 1.5 percent of the world's opium poppies, which are used to make heroin. Is this really an emergency? Drug czar Barry McCaffrey's proposal to send Colombia another billion dollars to fight drugs simply doesn't make sense.

Ronald Reagan first coined the term "narco-guerrilla" to justify US support for the contras in Nicaragua. Later, in what became known as the "Iran-contra affair," we heard that the US was supplying weapons to the contras in exchange for cocaine.

We should not arm the Colombian military, which has proven to be one of most brutal and corrupt organizations in the world.

Paul Wolf Apex, N.C.

True spirit of environmentalism

I am dismayed by the chauvinistic tone of your editorial "Environmental caution" (Aug. 3). The Monitor should resist the temptation to use 20/20 hindsight to dismiss the efforts of the environmental movement. Just because the Environmental Protection Agency has decided against using MTBE as a fuel additive does not necessarily mean the policymaking process is flawed. Your editorial suggests that we should conduct countless longitudinal studies before implementing environmental policies.

More importantly, your editorial maligns the intent of many environmentalists. We are not trying to recreate a utopian Garden of Eden full of wolves, salmon, and spotted owls. Rather, we are challenging public policies that favor resource extraction, consumptive lifestyles, and severe environmental degradation. …

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