by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois), May 23, 2002
Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.
I rise in strong
support of the McGovern-Skelton amendment, and I want to thank my colleagues
for their leadership on this important issue.
The Bush administration
and the Republicans would have my colleagues believe that a change in
our control policy, a shift from the policy of a counternarcotics to that
of counterinsurgency is a logical part of our plan to eradicate the global
Last year's supporters
of Plan Colombia were promising us that our efforts in Colombia were just
about reducing the flow of drugs. They had many Members convinced that
the policy was justified and that it was going to be successful. To date,
our policy has been a spectacular failure and now it is even less justified.
It is a fact that
despite our aggressive drug eradication efforts, coca cultivation has
actually increased by 25 percent in Colombia. Despite our efforts, human
rights abuses continue. Paramilitary death squads continue to brutalize
innocent Colombians, and they operate with impunity from the military,
and perhaps most disturbingly, military officials implicated in the deaths
of the very people they are supposed to protect remain unpunished and
on the Colombian government's payroll.
Anyone who thinks
that the links between military and brutal paramilitary
forces have been severed are simply ignoring the realities on the ground,
which I was able to see myself when I went with the gentleman from Massachusetts
(Mr. McGovern) to Colombia and listened to the people.
The May 6 Chicago Tribune editorial on this subject had it right. ``There
is no advantage to the United States getting deeper into the 40-year old
Colombian civil war. Money spent on drug interdiction there would be much
more productively used for treatment of addicts here. And more American
military aid is hardly going to advance chances of a political solution
to this multi-headed conflict. This failed foreign policy cannot be salvaged,
certainly not by pouring good money after bad. The House has an opportunity
to put a stop to this.''
In 1999, I stood
here in this Chamber and I warned my colleagues that Plan Colombia would
be just the first in a series of blank checks for the war, with no foreseeable
Along with the sponsors
of the amendment, I appreciate that the committee worked to narrow the
parameters of the administration's original wide-open request to expand
our role in Colombia. However, this bill still opens the door, and we
all know that once a door is opened, it is very hard to shut.
This language reaches
back and allows all fiscal year 2002 military aid, personnel and equipment
to be used for counterterrorism, including any additional aid that might
be sent under a continuing resolution later this year. Military escalation
is built into this appropriation bill, but an exit strategy is not. Once
we cross into counterinsurgency we are committing the might and the resource
of the United States to a 4-decade old war that cannot be won militarily.
All of my colleagues
should be reminded of President Johnson's agony and his inability to extricate
the United States from a jungle quagmire in Vietnam. I would not wish
that on a president of any party.
I want to also say
in closing that I understand that tonight that the Republican leadership
is going to adjourn at midnight, start a new legislative day, and it is
just another strategy to shut down debate, and even as we argue the supplemental
budget and wave the flag as we should for our military forces around the
globe and for strengthening our fight against terrorism here at home,
and even as we talk about strengthening democracy in Colombia, the leadership
here is working furiously to be able to curtail democracy here on the
floor of this House. We should not be so hypocritical as to be waving
the flag and promoting democracy in the supplemental and then saying but
we cannot have democracy here to debate what is legitimate debate here
on this floor of the House of Representatives.
As of June 19, 2002,
this document was also available online at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/B?r107:@FIELD(FLD003+h)+@FIELD(DDATE+20020523)