Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Columbia: The U.S' Spoiled Child

By Timothy Rice

Thankfully, last week the tensions between Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa and Colombian president Alvaro Uribe ended amicably, calming fears that the area would erupt into war.

After the Colombian military crossed Ecuador's border in search of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC), a rebel group against the government of Columbia, Ecuador and neighboring Venezuela stepped up military operations on their borders with Colombia.

Ecuador had all rights to step up their military preparedness- the very premise of the modern international state is its sovereignty within its borders. Venezuela also has substantial reasoning to flex some military muscle, as a fellow neighbor of Colombia and also an ally of Ecuador. Hugo Chavez certainly dramatized the event for his own political gains, but none-the-less Venezuela also had reason to fear that its sovereignty could be intruded on by the Colombian military.

But the United States was not justified in any way in its strict unabashed support for the Colombian government.

The U.S certainly has a history with Columbia, and their alliance now goes back for decades. The U.S has repeatedly sent aid to the country in order to help build law and order. In turn it has hoped that a more controlled Colombia will not send so much cocaine to us, which is so expensive to track down once it gets here. The U.S has grown quite fond of its little child Columbia, but must remember one important fact: even our favorite children can really mess up sometimes. And although we still love them we can not condone this behavior.

Unfortunately, the U.S has a history of these unsavory alliances. We like to make ourselves inseparable with other states and their leaders, expecting that if we give them aid, and promise protection, they will be by our side in a conflict in their state neighborhood. -Think Saddam Hussein, The Shah of Iran, Cold War Afghanistan and even the development of Israel.

Since 2001 we have clearly learned that our support of Saddam and the Afghanistan government were both bad ideas, obviously. In addition supporting the Shah of Iran turned out not to be such a great idea since he also was an unelected dictator. In recent years the U.S has even realized that Israel, a long time ally may not be the all time good child, and may actually be unjustifiably causing much of the turmoil with Palestine.

So why is it that the U.S cannot realize these mistakes when it wholeheartedly endorses and protects its allies of today?

Colombia is a troubled state, corruption and lawlessness are rampant. It contains some of the most dangerous cities in the world. There is no shame in helping such a country mature. Indeed financial , social, and educational aid given by the U.S to Colombia are commendable, no matter how selfish the reasoning may be (remember our own drug war).

However-The U.S testified that actions taken by the Columbian military inside the borders of Ecuador were OK. Clearly, the U.S would not feel the same if it were our border which was crossed.

The U.S as the hegemon owes it to the world to stop playing favorites. Obviously a good part of the reason the U.S even took the time to speak at the conference was for political reasons against Hugo Chavez. Chavez has personally made himself and his country an enemy of the U.S, mostly for his own political reasons. Standing up to the U.S as little Venezuela has a way of making him look strong to his people. The U.S however does not need to look strong in the international arena, it is strong, there is no question.

The U.S has vilified Chavez as an enemy. In truth however he affords more to his people than Uribe does to the Colombians. Rather than playing political games and standing up for Columbia's wrong doing, the U.S could have taken the opportunity to take the higher road and make amends with Venezuela. Admitting that Columbia, although an ally, was at fault would have helped boost our diplomatic relations with South America and just may have helped re-polished our tarnished international reputation.

But alas, we failed again.

No comments: