HIGHTOWER: Vietnam Deja Vu In Colombia

See if this sounds at all familiar to you: in a faraway land, a civil war has been raging for 20 years, pitting peasant rebels against the military of the ruling elites; our government, which sides with the elites, begins issuing propaganda demonizing the rebels, asserting that their insurgency is a threat to our national security; next, Washington begins providing military equipment to the ruling government; however, the rebels make big gains in the countryside, so Washington then dramatically escalates the shipment of arms to fight them, this time even sending Green Berets to train the troops of the elites.This chronicle is not merely a flashback to our country's involvement in the quagmire of Vietnam, but a chronicle of Washington's recent moves to sink us ever deeper into a civil war in Colombia. Technically, the shipment of military equipment has been made in the name of the U.S. drug war, ostensibly enabling the Colombian military to destroy drug crops and root out drug dealers in the rugged countryside.For example, we're spending $6 million to upgrade the Colombian government's crop fumigation planes. Sounds reasonable, since these planes are used to destroy the coca plants from which cocaine is made. But the upgrade is not in the spray power of these planes -- instead, the $6 million is to mount machine guns on them.In addition, $96 million is going to buy six Blackhawk helicopters, and $40 million more to arm 34 Huey helicopters with long range, high-powered machine guns. These are not for going after poor coca farmers, but for fighting rebel forces. Also, those Green Berets are not teaching coca fumigation techniques, but infantry skills, explosives, and ambush techniques. Our government is even building a military intelligence center in Colombia, feeding it information from our spy satellites.This is Jim Hightower saying ... Shouldn't we be on the side of the peasants fighting for democracy, rather than pulling another Vietnam?

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