Wednesday, July 29, 2009

5 new US military bases in Colombia is hardly a move to the left

The Wall Street Journal’s Mary Anastasia O’Grady never ceases to give me fodder for blog posts! In Monday’s edition, she claims that the Obama administration's Latin America policy is being pulled to the left by White House Counsel Greg Craig. It’s no secret that I am much farther left on the political spectrum than O’Grady, so am probably biased, but I can't help but be befuddled by her assertion.

O'Grady bases her claim largely on the fact that the Obama administration has called for the reinstatement of ousted Honduran President Manual Zelaya, who was overthrown while purportedly trying to change the constitution to allow him to stay in office longer. Hmm, remind you of a leader a bit farther south, in, say, Colombia? But if a coup overthrew Colombian president Alvaro Uribe, who has also been trying to change the constitution to stay in office longer, O’Grady would be up in arms to restore him. Besides, Obama isn't actually too firm in his support of Zelaya.

Putting aside that double standard, however, it’s clear O’Grady hasn’t been keeping up to date with current events. If she had, she would have heard about negotiations underway between the U.S. and Colombia to establish at least 5 U.S. military bases in Colombia. Last I heard, folks on the left tend to oppose increased militarization; it's tough to see 5 new military bases as a move to the left.

Why is the administration pushing for these bases? The stated goal of the military facilities is "filling the gaps left by the eventual cutting of [military] aid in Plan Colombia," according to sources in Washington and Bogotá cited by an article published July 1 in the Colombian weekly news magazine Cambio.