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(en) Regeneration #6 January/February 2002: Plan Colombia and the Art of "Low Intensity" Warfare

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>(http://www.ugcs.caltech.edu/~gonzo/regeneration/)
Date Sun, 10 Mar 2002 05:11:53 -0500 (EST)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

Even with the US military machine focused on the Middle East, we
can’t afford to forget about the US government’s imperialist war in
Colombia. Bush’s latest military budget contains $98 million to
specifically support Colombian soldiers protecting the
Cano-Limon pipeline in Colombia that rebels rendered inoperative
throughout most of 2001. More profits for his oil buddies! 

Plan Colombia is a good example of the practice of Low Intensity
Warfare and is important for clarifying our understanding of U.S.
foreign policy in conflicted areas around the world. The U.S.
government, in the service of an international capitalist system,
seeks to send one message to the entire world, best exemplified in
the acronym TINA: "There Is No Alternative". 

No alternative, that is, to the current trend of investors and
corporations to dominate the entire planet. They do this under the
guise of a neo-liberal philosophy of "free trade", designed to bring
about the integration and globalization of the world’s economy. We
are witnessing the end of an historical epoch dominated by the
power of Nation States and replacing it with the international
Corporate State. 

Low Intensity Warfare has a history dating back at least to the Boer
Wars in South Africa, but the U.S. did much to perfect this warfare
in the jungles of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia during the Vietnam
War. Low Intensity Warfare is a response to guerilla warfare, which
many third world people used in attempts to overthrow colonial
domination by foreign forces. 

To be successful, national liberation guerilla fighters first had to win
the hearts and minds of the local people. This is because
insurgency movements, rely on the ability to strike out at the enemy
and then quickly vanish back into the general population. 

To gain the confidence of the locals, the insurgents would be active
in local politics and support programs and institutions that would
provide services in areas like health and education or organizing
labor unions. Many guerilla fighters would also work very hard to
educated their neighbors, which spread literacy throughout the third
world. In guerilla warfare the combatants are often described as fish
and the indigenous population are the water in a stream, the fish are
always able to blend in with their natural environment. 

Low Intensity Warfare seeks to dry up the stream.
Counter-insurgency often consists of the U.S. and other first world
governments supplying large quantities of arms, training and money
to the military forces of countries like Nicaragua, El Salvador,
Guatemala and now Colombia, under the cover of defending the
government and "democracy" from rebel forces. These
governments and military forces are only looking after the interests
of the very small sector of the population who control the wealth and

The US likes to maintain dictatorial governments who might be
brutal to their people but supply US companies with cheap labor and
other favors. If the guerrillas release themselves from this colonial
arrangement, the American corporations could lose huge profits.
Low Intensity Warfare defends the interests of the ruling classes
and capitalist institutions of these countries. 

Counter insurgents do not seek to actually combat the armed
insurgents; their war targets the bases of support in the civilian
population. Thus, in the Nicaraguan conflict, the Contra army rarely
engaged the Sandinista army. Their targets were the collective
farms, the rural school system, the medical clinics, the mayors and
politicians, doctors, nurses, teachers, social workers, labor union
organizers or any village or group of people whom the military
intelligence suspected of supporting the Sandinistas. 

Frequently this kind of warfare leads to massacres of large
numbers of civilians to terrorize them and prevent them from
supporting the guerrillas. Low Intensity Warfare includes torture and
murder of infants and children in front of their parents, decapitation,
mutilation, burning alive, mass rape of women and children, etc.
Many of the more well-known and brutal slaughters in places like
Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala were carried out by military
forces trained in the United States in the arts of torture, murder and

During the Nicaraguan conflict the CIA was caught mining a harbor.
The captured U.S. agents carried some manuals written for the
Contra army and its civilian death squads by the U.S. military.
These manuals instructed the U.S. supported terrorists on how to
select, target, and assassinate perceived supporters of the
Sandinista government. 

Reports of slaughters and massacres of civilian populations by
military forces supplied, trained and supported with U.S. taxpayers’
money has embarrassed the U.S. military and government. A
convenient way to avoid this kind of embarrassment is to hire
mercenaries to carry out Low Intensity Warfare. U.S. taxpayers’
money is spent to arm and finance death squads and foreign militias
who oppose their ruling government which also is uncooperative
with the U.S. government. This allows for the appearance that the
U.S. military is not directly involved in civilian massacres. 

It is important to remember that Low Intensity Warfare is not really
aimed at a military victory against its opponents. While the rebel
forces fighting in Columbia may not fit the profile of a Liberation
Army they do pose an alternative to the consolidation of the power
and wealth of the worlds power elite under the programs of
neoliberalism and Globalization. What the Low Intensity Warfare of
Plan Colombia seeks is to bring the civilian and indigenous
populations to their knees and force them to accept capitalism’s
final solution, globalization of the world economy and the
dictatorship of the corporate state. 

This capitalist dictatorship will be shrouded in what amounts to a
military "democracy". This form of democracy is like the U.S., where
the rich and powerful control the political parties and superstructure
with their wealth and power. This control guarantees the outcome
elections and insures that their interests will dominate the
government agenda. 

In the client states, however, the military and the death squads are
always not far in the background in the event some real alternative
might come to power either through elections or by other means.
Even the U.S. uses these tactics with government programs like
COINTELPRO, which results in military actions against students,
infiltration and subversion of groups like the Black Panthers and
assassination of their leaders. 

In Chile the U.S. sponsored the overthrow of the freely elected
government of Salvador Allende. Britain’s Prime Minister Margaret
Thatcher, referred to this military coup and the massacres that
accompanied the ascension to power of the Pinochet dictatorship
as "the re-establishment of democracy in Chile." 

The message behind the Plan Colombia and Low Intensity Warfare
to the Colombian people is "There Is NO Alternative," TINA. No
alternative to the poverty, no alternative to military democracy, no
alternative to death squads, no alternative but submission to the
needs of global capitalism; the World Bank, the IMF and the World
Trade Organization. You must serve these interests and the
interests of the Corporate State, allow them to steal your countries
natural resources, destroy its environment, do their bidding and
work as good wage slaves for less than subsistence wages. You will
submit to the destruction of your culture, and allow yourself to be
indoctrinated by the mass media into being a mindless consumer,
happy to be forever entertained, passive and submissive, keeping
your mouth shut and voting when told to. You will forget any notions
you may have about the state having any responsibility for the
welfare of those it governs. You will do all this or you and your
family, will never live a day of your lives free of fear and in peace.

Or perhaps there is, but that depends on what the world’s exploited
and impoverished people, its wage slaves, students, you and I, and
others decide to do to resist TINA, the culture of the Spectacle and
the capitalist state.

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