Pubdate: Sat, 23 Sep 2000
Source: Tribune Review (PA)
Copyright: 2000 Tribune-Review Publishing Co.
Author: Tom O'Connell


The George Will column your newspaper carried Sept. 10 ("U.S.'s Colombia
policy `barren of historical sense'") is one of the most interesting
exercises in political journalism I have ever seen. Will's primary target is
Bill Clinton's dissembling on behalf of "Plan Colombia." The plan itself,
Will tells us, is patently absurd: "peace through herbicides." He derides
Clinton for having us believe that American military helicopters will be
used "as farm implements."

Although Will goes into detail to develop his premise, he stops short of
stating that U.S. drug policy - which Clinton insists is the major reason
for our intervention - is equally absurd. Although that idea is strongly
implied, Will carefully avoids saying so directly, perhaps because so many
of the most ardent supporters of that policy - and advocates for Plan
Colombia - are themselves staunch Republicans.

Will ends by relating an early '70s exchange in which George Schultz (long a
critic of drug prohibition) twitted Patrick Moynihan for assuming heroin
supply could be "controlled" by governmental agreements and repeating Sir
Lewis Namier's admonition that the study of history should provide us with a
sense of "how things do not work." The most obvious conclusion from these
examples is not simply that U.S. policy in Colombia is wrong; it's that
American drug prohibition is also wrong.

It's too bad Will just couldn't bring himself to say so.

Tom O'Connell
San Mateo, Calif.
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