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July 01, 2008

A New Project from NSN
Posted by The National Security Network

To our readers:

This document is the first in a series of daily briefs that NSN will be putting out each morning over the next few months.

McCain Visits Colombia - Pledges To Continue George Bush’s Failed Colombian Drug Policy That Has Proved Unable To Stem The Drug Trade.

Today John McCain begins a three-day visit to Colombia and Mexico where he will pledge his support for continuing the Bush administration’s policies on trade, immigration, and drugs. McCain’s support for the Colombian trade agreement has received much attention, but just as concerning is his support for continuing the Bush administration’s Plan Colombia – a drug eradication strategy that focuses heavily on aerial spraying and other forced eradication programs. This policy has proved ineffective. More cocaine is flowing into the US than ever before, and the number of users at home is rising. The U.S. needs a change in course and a comprehensive new counter-narcotics strategy, not more of the same.

McCain continues to promote failed Bush strategies.  “I want to go to Colombia as it is a vital ally in our struggle against the scourge of drugs, a great amount of cocaine that comes into the United States of America, as we know, comes from Colombia,” McCain said. “Colombia has shown success, and I am strongly in favor of the free trade agreement between the United States and the nation of Colombia.”  However, a recent UN report highlights that despite aggressive eradication efforts and more than $5 billion in U.S. aid, the area under coca cultivation in Colombia is increasing.   From 2006 to 2007, the total area under coca cultivation in Colombia increased by 27%.  [CBS, 7/1/08, UNDOC, 6/08]

The Bush-McCain supply-side strategies alone have been ineffective and insufficient in stopping the flow of drugs to the U.S.  U.S. actions as a part of Colombian counter-narcotic policies have created a “balloon effect” in the country; when the U.S. targets one region, production increases elsewhere.  In Colombia, coca growers have adapted their growing practices to counter intensified coca eradication; producers have expanded growing operations to non-traditional cultivation areas.  Meanwhile, coca production has risen in Bolivia and Peru.   [DOJ, National Drug Assessment 2008; UNDOC, 6/08 ]

The U.S. must shift its efforts to a more comprehensive strategy, including demand reduction at home.  According to John M. Walsh of the Washington Office on Latin America, "Forced eradication, including aerial spraying, only guarantees more replanting."  Instead, it is necessary to focus on improving infrastructure and helping poor coca farmers transition to alternative, legal crops. "The easy pickings in terms of spraying coca in Colombia are over, and for there to be progress beyond this plateau there needs to be an alternative livelihood," Walsh said.  Additionally, the National Drug Control Strategy has emphasized the effectiveness of balanced demand- and supply-side strategy. [Washington Post, 6/19/08; International Crisis Group, 06/08]

Quick Hits

Al Qaeda is extending its influence into Algeria and the Maghreb by extensively supporting radical Islamic militants that are “reinvigorated with fresh recruits and a zeal for Western targets”

Iraq invited a consortium of the world’s energy firms to start bidding on the plethora of “underperforming” Iraqi oil fields, a measure taken to boost production. This is taking place despite the fact that no oil law has been passed, and the Iraqi government has failed to spend the amount of oil revenue they currently receive, indicating that the move is hardly “pressing.”

The month of June was the deadliest for NATO forces in Afghanistan since the beginning of the war, with 45 reported casualties. It was also the second straight month in which militants killed more U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan than in Iraq.

McCain campaign confident Charlie Black was a lobbyist with close ties to Colombia.  A lobbying firm headed until recently by Black has earned $1.8 million representing the Occidental Petroleum Corporation, the leading foreign producer of gas and oil in Colombia.

The views of a former CIA operative who opposed the “conventional wisdom” on Iran’s nuclear weapons program were deliberately suppressed by the agency, the Washington Post reports.

Despite mounting criticism by fellow African leaders and his runoff described as “not free, fair or credible”, Robert Mugabe attended the African Union summit in Egypt.

A compound said to belong to a militant Islamic group near Peshawar, Pakistan exploded, killing “as many as eight people”, amidst a Pakistani offensive wave in the area to counter increased resurgent activities.


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This is not news, and it is not brief.

I suppose this means the discussion about grand strategy is over.

There will be more grand strategy talk. I promise you that. It just requires some serious time to sit down and write.

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Great to read all the project information here.I have heard somewhere that the AP count found that about 580 people died in insurgent violence last month, including about 440 militants, 34 civilians and 44 members of the Afghan security forces. More than 2,100 people have died in violence this year, according to the AP count, which is based on figures from Afghan, U.S. and NATO officials. Please share some information on this mater also.

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