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Last Updated:6/25/00
Speech by Sen. Slade Gorton (R-Washington), June 21, 2000
Mr. GORTON. Mr. President, the capacity of this body for self-delusion seems to this Senator to be unlimited. Time after time, we permit this administration to involve us in some new armed conflict without seriously examining the consequences of that involvement, the cost of the involvement, the length of the involvement, or even the possibility that we will attain the goals of that involvement.

Mark my words, we are on the verge of doing exactly the same thing here that we have done so frequently in the last 7 or 8 years. This bill includes almost $1 billion for an entirely new, and almost totally military, involvement in a civil war in Latin America, without the slightest promise that our intervention will be a success, and it does it in a totally backward fashion.

The very committee report that recommends spending this almost $1 billion says that the committee `has grave reservations regarding the administration's ability to effectively manage the use of these resources to achieve the expected results.'

Well, if we have grave reservations, why are we doing it before those reservations have been met?

The bill is a paradox. It says to the administration, spend $934 million, and then come to us and tell us what you have done and why it should go on. But if Kosovo and Bosnia are any indication, when the administration comes back next year, the answer will be: Well, we are already in it; we can't quit now.

That is what we have been told for 6 or 7 years in Bosnia and 2 or 3 in Kosovo, with no end in sight. And there will be no end in sight here either, Mr. President. This bill says let's get in a war now and justify it later. My amendment says let's hear the justification first; let's seriously consider what we are getting into and then maybe vote the money.

This amendment takes $700 million of the $934 million and says, for now, let's pay down the debt with it. Let's expand our present help to Colombia and its police forces, rather substantially, but let's not get into a new armed conflict until we have far greater justification than we have received to this point.

It just seems impossible to me to believe that in the absence of the debate of the whole country, with all of the lessons we must have learned not just in this administration, but in previous administrations, about how easy it is to get in and how hard it is to get out, we will blithely make this downpayment--and this is a downpayment only. Next year, maybe we will need a lot more money if they are not doing very well down there. And how much of the equipment is going to end up in the hands of rebels by sale or capture or otherwise? We have no way of controlling that without a presence on the ground.

I urge this body to say to the administration: No, we are not going to do this until you first come to us with a formal overall plan with a beginning, middle, and an end, and a plan for how we are going to achieve our goals. Get the authority first and then fund it. It is 10 times better for this society to put that $700 million on our debt and not get in a civil war in South America. That is what this debate is all about--not that we don't like the Colombians or that we don't want them to be successful, but we don't want a part of their war.

As of June 25, 2000, this document was also available online at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?r106:S21JN0-228:
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