hugo chávez: Harmless or a menace to the region?
Original discussion taken from the thread: Mexican War on drugs. Because it seemed it was going off-topic I am creating a new thread on the subject. I took the last 2 posts from that other threads so I can reply here.
Dr Grim, we actually *use pot* as a medical treatment in many places in the States, so your fearmongering regarding marijuana seems out of date. I'd be happy to explore this facet in more depth in its own thread.
Additionally, this has to be mentioned every time the idea of "not buying oil from that one guy" comes up, so I'll do it: oil is a global market. If America shifts all its purchases to other places, it does not change the price, nor does it mean Venezuela (this is also true for Iran) suddenly can't sell its oil. And there's dozens of reasons why people don't want the Keystone Project anyway. I'd also be happy to explore this facet in more depth in its own thread.
1) Not many places in the world can refine venezuelean oil. It is too heavy and contains lots of sulfur and other unwanted components. The closest facility is in the US, the other one in Russia if memory serves me right. So yeah, it matters if the US stop buying because shipping tankers to Russia means being paid with a 30+ days delay. It kills cash flow and that would have been terrible in an election year. Too late for that now.
2) There is a big difference between using marihuana as drug for medical purposes and allowing it to be freely used and available to the public in general. Cocaine is also used for medical purposes but that doesn't mean we should allow people to use it as they please. Pot can have very negative effects on people and how often it is used. How would the state deal with people who abuse such substances or die to their side-effects or provoke the deaths of third parties? PotFest sounds like SUING-FEST out of a sudden. Long term effects include depression and schizophrenia not to mention addiction. To me your argument seems moot and out of place but as you said, it's a discussion for its own topic which I will not be starting or continuing to discuss.
Again, how are we going to replace 13% of our daily oil imports if we stop trading with Venezuela?
And you're also overlooking the fact that we have a long history of dealing with governments that support the drug trade. Just look at Panama and Noriega. We supported him for three decades before deciding he had outlived his usefulness. We're currently propping up the Afghan government with full knowledge that they're being funded by the opium trade, which we've told our troops to turn a blind eye to.
Venezuela, Panama and Afghanistan are 3 different beasts. Venezuela is an oil exporter and doesn't qualify as a seriously poor country (well, maybe chávez has been working on that real hard). Who else in the region (besides Colombia) is so hardly bent on drug trafficking? At this point I expect you to call your congressman and ask him to drop all efforts to stop Venezuela and Colombia since nothing can be done. Let us know how it goes.
Media backlash. Make people talk about it, certain chávez allies tread on thin ice in their countries. Without key allies in international forums in America, chávez cash flow and influence would be severely undermined. The UN is just a tribune with lots of cameras, I know all too well China and Russia won't move a finger for the reasons you already mentioned.
A couple of things. First, you need to explain to me how you will be able to eliminate ELN and FARC without invading Venezuela. You've repeatedly said that it should be handled diplomatically and without the need for the US Marines to invade, but I seriously doubt there's a diplomatic solution. Even if the UN declared Venezuela a rogue state and slapped it with sanctions, it would take years and years for them to have any noticeable effect (if then). Iraq survived more than a decade of rigorous sanctions.
Second, we've been killing "top al Qaeda leaders" for over a decade now and they always seem to be replaced. The same would be true for ELN and FARC. Again, if you want to "kill them in a fast sequence" you are talking about direct military intervention, which is something that we as a nation are looking to get out of, not into.
Hell, we have the same exact problem in Afghanistan that Colombia is facing because the folks we're fighting there are protected by the Pakistani government. We've failed to solve that problem when we have more than a hundred thousand US troops in country and we're spending $10 billion a month there. What makes you think it would be any different in Venezuela?
Third, for the ELN and FARC to be truly eliminated, the current Venezuelan government would have to be taken down and replaced. Short of Venezuelans doing that themselves, it would require a massive military intervention. And that would mean that US troops would have to do it. And there's a whole loads of issues around that: Who's going to pay for it? Who's going to replace Chavez? How long will our troops have to be there?
We've had our experience with regime change in Iraq and I don't think we're anxious to repeat the experience anytime soon.
a) Colombian's government is doing a fine job hunting FARC and ELN. No need for US Marines. What is needed to make sure is that FARC and ELN rebels cannot safely flee to Venezuela when pushed to the border or if they cross it, that they will be fought by the venezuelean's army. It's not that hard to understand, really.
b) al-qaeda, FARC and ELN are not the same. You're mistakenly mixing 2 different profiles and making pointless analogies. al-qaeda fights to impose its religious interpretation of the Coran and to expel non arab troops from what they consider occupied territories. Those people are fanatics and get recruits from a variety of islamist countries. al-qaeda is also not confined to a single country but spread amongst multiple areas, they also don't have the same level of organization as FARC and ELN troops. FARC and ELN are marxist-leninist guerrillas with an outdated ideology whose purpose is to take over Colombia and impose an extreme-left government in order to fight american imperialism. The latter can be morally broken and it has been working in the last few years since the colombian's government is offering sentence cuts to whoever surrenders willingly. Also, FARC and ELN numbers haven't been growing in the last years, it hovers around 7500 and might be lower than that. Difficult to say because chávez is helping them, but without his help they'd be either dead or negotiating already, 14 years of sympathy go a long way.
c) I already told you, FARC and ELN leads are not easy to replace. The guys from the Secretariado (FARC leads) haven't been. They just elect the next leader from who is still alive from that elite group. It takes time to build trust and confidence to lead that small army in the jungle and rebels are not zealots. Some rebels have been fighting for over 20 years and they are not leaders or promoted to the top ranks.
d) You must be anxious to send marines to Venezuela because you keep mentioning it. I never said anything of the like so please stop bringing that up. No Marines in Venezuela. I don't see what good it would do but the bad is obvious.
I doubt we'd sell AWACs to Colombia considering we've kept that technology very close to our vest. That doesn't mean Colombia couldn't buy the technology from another sources, but that's not really our problem. If Colombia needs that equipment to wage its counter-terrorism operations then its government should acquire it. It shouldn't wait for the US to give it to them or rely on them to fly the reconnaissance missions its military needs.
Beyond that, it's not really up to the US to provide the Colombian government with all this additional military support. Technically, we'd only be concerned about using AWACs information to track and intercept drug shipments. Troop movements would not be our concern.
Colombia buys all its military equipment from the US and the US like it that way. Colombia is doing great efforts to improve its economy, I don't blame them for not being able to afford multi-million satellites and spy planes to fight drugs the US so rabidly demand. I think the US GVT disagrees with your assessment on how cooperation should work anyways. When the Manta base in Ecuador was shut down because the agreement was not renewed it meant the US area to patrol shrunk even more. And I really disagree, troop movements on either side of the border matter, a great deal. As I already explained to you rebels escort drug shipments and protect some of the wharves used to build the narco subs (not to mention illegal runways). When 10 guys with guns take a stroll through the colombian countryside it's already a problem but when columns of 300 are doing it you better pay attention to where they're going. Also, FARC have hostages they torture then exchange for money or use as leverage, and I think some were americans ( I don't know if they still hold any atm) . You want to know at all time where those guys are taken to.
Venezuela is far down the list of US priorities right now. We're still trying to get ourselves out of what we got into after 9/11. Things like saying that Iran will give FARC nuclear capabilities are simply fantasies at this point and fantasies designed to get us to use force against Venezuela. We already did that in Iraq and it didn't go well for us.
You're not seeing the whole thing here: Venezuela is helping Syria and Iran bypass sanctions (Some chávez secretaries have strong ties to the syrian regime). Who's to say Venezuela will not help some terrorist organization in the middle east get hold of a mini nuke or pieces or whatever? Who's to say chávez will not help FARC get a hold on surface to air missiles? You know what 5 billion dollars in russian weaponry mean? And regarding the priority yeah, I noticed.
I've already said legalization would be difficult, but the only way to actually solve the issue of the drug trade is to address demand. Again, this discussion started with me saying that nearly 50 years of the US focusing on the supply side of the drug trade hasn't had any results. Drugs are more readily available and cheaper now than they were.
The reality is that we cannot cut off the supply of drugs. Even with our support, the Colombian government has not been able to reduce the amount of cocaine it produces. In fact, the amount of cocaine it produces has gone steadily up. It's the same in every country throughout the region.
Not true. Cocaine production in Colombia has decreased 15 percent in 2010. And since 2 years prior to that date it has kept decreasing according to UNODC reports. Production will never be fully exterminated but it can be greatly reduced. Because of Mexico's GVT pressure the drug business is moving to center america but the final destination of the product is the same.
I simply don't understand why you think that the elimination of the ELN, FARC, or even Chavez would change that dynamic. As long as people are willing to pay for illicit drugs, other people will supply them. The names of the players might change, but the underlying problem would still exist.
I already explained it at length. I am starting to think you are not reading what I type or that my english is not good enough. At any rate, have a nice day.