US forces to be doubled in Colombia for sake of oil

Oct 28, 2004 02:00 AM

Congress voted before going into recess earlier to double the number of US forces in Colombia.
The purpose, unfortunately, is to make more areas of the country safe for exploration by American oil companies including Harken Energy, President Bush's former firm.

US military involvement in Colombia started years ago with the objective of helping the government suppress narcotics production and marketing, as part of the war on drugs in the United States. That effort became inevitably involved with the Colombian government's own 40-year civil war with rebel forces.
The mission of the US military was expanded two years ago to include training, supporting and equipping the Colombian troops who are protecting a 500-mile pipeline operated by Occidental Petroleum, based in Los Angeles.

Now, under pressure from American oil companies wishing to expand their production, US forces will double from 400 to 800 and support Colombian forces that protect the activities of US companies. These include not only Harken Energy, but also Argosy Energy International of Houston, ExxonMobil and ChevronTexaco.
The United States will provide helicopters, training, planning and surveillance; Colombian forces will supply most of the manpower.

The argument for expanding the role of the US military is that America needs to increase and diversify its foreign sources of oil. A stabilized Colombia is beneficial to the United States because not only does it keep the oil pipeline open but it also helps cut the flow of narcotics.
But the argument against this Bush administration action is much more compelling. It uses public funds to support the aims of private companies. It is particularly questionable at a time when 135,000 American troops are fighting in Iraq and another 20,000 in Afghanistan.

If one of the 800 US soldiers in Colombia were to be killed, just to increase the access of American companies to Colombian oil, it would be impossible to justify the loss.
The soldier's loved ones would not be likely to buy the idea that the need for cheaper gas and profit for US oil companies is worth the life of an American soldier. They would be entirely right.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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