Trade Resource Center
Grass and Contemplating
Armageddon in South Asia
by Frida BERRIGAN
I. EATING GRASS AND CONTEMPLATING ARMAGEDDON IN SOUTH
COLOMBIA IS BURNING
RECENT NEWS COVERAGE
GRASS AND CONTEMPLATING ARMAGEDDON IN SOUTH ASIA
Almost forty years ago, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who was then
serving as Pakistan's Foreign Minister, famously declared
"even if Pakistanis have to eat grass we will make
the bomb." Since then, India and Pakistan have fought
two conventional wars and now have nuclear weapons poised
to complete the short five-minute arc to the other's national
George W. Bush called both leaders last night to urge
them to back down, warning, "armed conflict will
do nothing to improve the lives of the people of India
and Pakistan. It will instead blot the future of both
is also dispatching carrots and sticks to the region.
Deputy Secretary of State Robert Armitage bears carrots
for both sides, including debt relief, additional international
aid, and enticements for Pakistan to become "a respected
member of the international community," in the words
of a senior State Department official.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is carrying the
stick, in the form of a Pentagon report documenting the
likelihood that 12 million people could be killed and
an additional 6 million injured in the nuclear exchange.
as the din of nuclear saber rattling grows more deafening,
the role played by the United States and other western
countries in building up India and Pakistan's nuclear
capability is all but being ignored.
week the Group of 8 leading industrialized nations, known
as the G-8, issued a statement calling on India and Pakistan
to "work with the international community to ensure
that there will be a diplomatic solution to the current
crisis." While the statement is strongly worded and
compelling, it is weakened by the fact that of the eight
signatories, six including the U.S., Russia, Canada, Germany,
Britain and France, helped provide India and Pakistan
with the raw materials and technical know-how to build
their nuclear weapons.
first nuclear device used plutonium supplied by a Canadian
research reactor and extracted in a re-processing plant
built with U.S. assistance. Germany supplied the tritium,
beryllium, heavy water plants and re-processing components.
Pakistan utilized Canadian and Belgian heavy water plants,
German uranium enrichment technology, reprocessing technology
from France and the UK and an U.S. origin research reactor
as it developed its first nuclear weapons. In fact, Pakistan's
F-16s, supplied by the Reagan administration, remain their
most reliable nuclear delivery vehicle.
crucial as raw nuclear materials, technical assistance
and delivery vehicles are to the two countries' nuclear
weapons development programs, perhaps even more influential
is the continued emphasis placed on nuclear weapons by
Western nations. Both India and Pakistan are very effected
by the Cold War equation that nuclear weapons are indicative
of world leadership and essential to entering the "first
world." The fact that since the end of the Cold War
no nuclear power has relinquished nuclear weapons has
had a profound impact on both nations. As M. V. Ramana
and A. H. Nayyar, physicists and peace activists from
India and Pakistan respectively, wrote in a recent Scientific
American article, "the continued reliance of the
United States and Russia on thousands of nuclear weapons
on hair trigger alert only adds to the perceived need
for nuclear arsenals in India and Pakistan."
and Pakistan's game of nuclear chicken sheds light on
the United States' own nuclear lawlessness. The fact that
the United States has withdrawn from the Anti-Ballistic
Missile treaty, is pursuing new, more useable "mini"
nuclear weapons, and is committed to deploying a multi-tiered
ballistic missile defense are not lost on Indian and Pakistani
leaders who hear President Bush and his envoys calling
for nuclear restraint and a return to diplomacy. For the
United States to help diffuse the nuclear threat in South
Asia, it must first examine the ways in which it has contributed
to building and encouraging that threat.
more information on international assistance to the Indian
and Pakistani nuclear programs, please see the Nuclear
Control Institute's 1998
the U.S. is Pouring Gasoline on the Fire
Sean DONAHUE, New Hampshire Peace Action
On April 8, Alfredo Zapata Herrera was on his way to work
at a cement factory when right wing paramilitaries dragged
him off a bus and killed him. Zapata was a leader in the
local construction workers' union. The military and the
police knew that he was targeted for assassination, but
did nothing to protect him. He was the 45th union organizer
killed in Colombia this year. Six more have been killed
since. Three out of every four union organizers killed
around the world are killed in Colombia.
year, 4,000 civilians were murdered for political reasons
in Colombia -- up from 1,187 in 2000. The vast majority
were killed by right wing paramilitaries closely aligned
with the Colombian military: assassinated for speaking
out for political and economic justice, or massacred to
scare their neighbors into abandoning land coveted by
oil companies, cattle ranchers, or cocaine traffickers.
The U.S. and Colombian government circumvent human rights
restrictions that are supposed to prevent U.S. military
aid from going to military units linked to the paramilitaries.
According to Human Rights Watch:
U.S. violated the spirit of its own laws- in order to
continue funding abusive units. Compelling evidence emerged,
in particular, of ties between paramilitaries and Colombian
military units deployed in the U.S. antinarcotics campaign
in southern Colombia, showing that U.S.-vetted, funded,
and -trained troops were mixing freely with units that
maintained close ties with paramilitaries."
war has grown even bloodier in recent months since the
government broke off peace talks with Revolutionary Armed
Forces of Colombia (FARC), the larger of the country's
two Marxist guerilla groups. President Pastrana declared
19 municipalities "theaters of operation" under
the country's new security law - essentially imposing
martial law in these areas. Escalation of the war against
the guerillas serves to cloak and legitimize the "dirty
war" against dissenters.
human rights activist Hector Mondragon writes: "Both
the right and the guerilla are trying to impose war. The
strengthening of the movements of the left for peace could
possibly resolve the conflict. This is the possibility
that the dirty war and assassinations have tried to prevent."
violence provides a justification for the further escalation
of military/ paramilitary violence. And so the cycle continues.
are about to get worse.
On Sunday, May 26th Colombians elected a new president,
Alvaro Uribe, who has promised to take a harder line against
the FARC. Among
his proposals: doubling the size of the Colombian military,
and creating a network of one million civilian intelligence
operatives. The latter proposal is especially frightening
to human rights activists: it has disturbing echoes of
the "CONVIVIR" program of the late 1990's that
created armed civilian patrols throughout the country. In the department of Antioquia, where Uribe was governor at
the time, the CONVIVIR groups operated as thinly veiled
for the paramilitaries.
Uribe ignored repeated pleas from Mayor Gloria
Cuartas of Apatardo to intervene to stop the groups from
terrorizing his people.*
Today, Uribe publicly condemns the paramilitaries,
but he owes his overwhelming victory in part to "armed
campaigning" by paramilitary groups that threatened
to carry out massacres in villages that voted for another
victory was welcomed by the Bush administration.
The BBC reports that "Mr. Uribe was without
a doubt the favored candidate of the U.S.," and that
"the U.S. Ambassador to Colombia, Anne Patterson,
went to Mr. Uribe's campaign headquarters to congratulate
him even before the final vote was announced."
make matters worse, as part of the Emergency Supplemental
budget bill, the House voted last week to allow the Colombian
military to use U.S. funds designated for use in counternarcotics
operations to finance its war against the guerillas.
the U.S. support?
Another provision of the bill hints at the real
reason why the U.S. is involved in Colombia: a $6 million
down payment on a $98 million program to create a new
Colombian army battalion to protect an oil pipeline used
by California based Occidental Petroleum.
Instability in the Middle East is making Latin
American oil more important to the U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson
recently told the Bogota daily newspaper El Tiempo that:
Mexico and Venezuela, Colombia is the most important oil
country in the region.
After what happened on September 11th, the traditional
oil sources for the United States (the Middle East) are
less secure . ... Latin America could not cover a shortage,
it could not supply (us) in a crisis, but it allows a
small margin to work with and avoid price speculation.
. . Colombia
has great potential for exporting more oil to the United
States, and now more than ever it is important for us
to diversify our oil sources."
oil production in Colombia to meet U.S. needs will inevitably
require forcing more farmers and indigenous people off
their land. Escalating the war achieves this end - as do massacres and
U.S. already has several hundred soldiers on the ground
in Colombia acting as "military advisors." The
soldiers are prohibited from engaging in combat, but how
long will that last if the FARC kills one of them? The
U.S. is getting more deeply involved in Colombia's war
with no clear goals and no clear exit strategy.
Senate will have a chance to stop the U.S. from wading
deeper into the Colombian war when it votes on the Emergency
Supplemental bill in early June. Senators must take action
to prevent us from getting more deeply implicated in the
atrocities of Colombia's brutal war.
_ _ _ _
Donahue is Co-Director of New Hampshire Peace Action,
and has written and spoken extensively on U.S. policy
toward Colombia. He traveled to southern Colombia in January,
2001 with a delegation of activists and journalists organized
by the Colombia Support Network
He plans to return to Colombia in August
with Witness for Peace.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Mayor Gloria Cuartas's correspondence with Uribe is translated
and published online athttp://www.colombiasupport.net/gloriacuartas/governor.html.
more information on Uribe's possible ties to the cocaine
trade go to
action alerts and the latest news on Colombia, visit
Recent New Coverage
by ATRC Staff
Crusader? Insiders Will Cash In Regardless," by William
D. Hartung, May 21, 2002.
World Policy Institute
66 Fifth Ave., 9th Floor
New York, NY 10011
ph 212.229.5808 x112
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