Trying to keep up with the actions of the US military in foreign lands is somewhat like playing the arcade game Pop-A-Mole. The ugly head of US intervention (coupled with massive human rights violations) pops up. You try to swing at it and knock it down, and just as you swing, it ducks the hammer and another ugly head pops up. By the time any reliable information about one military action finally filters through the US government and down to the people, some other atrocity is being committed somewhere else, and the short attention span of our society is screaming, “Why are you worried about Iraq? We’re bombing Yugoslavia.” So you look into that that, and by the time you find anything out about it, the US is out of Yugoslavia and into Columbia. It’s a dizzying pattern. Noam Chomsky is one guy who seems to be on top of this Pop-A-Mole machine. He seems to know exactly when and where the next head is going to pop up. This is a tribute to how knowledgable and well-researched he is. In the case of An American Addiction, though, he’s swinging at the ugly head of US intervention in Columbia – certainly an immensely important issue – but the US military has already gone on to Afghanistan. And so it goes.
Still, An American Addiction succeeds in giving a great deal of information about the Colombian government. Chomsky delves into the idea of a “Drug War,” explores the reasons why the concept of a drug war itself is flawed, and demonstrates that the very terms “drug war” are nothing more than a euphemism for killing peasants to satisfy the needs of the very wealthy. From there, Chomsky investigates other motives that are probably behind US involvement in Columbia. Despite the fact that our nation’s attention is currently focused on a different US military action right now, An American Addiction is still in important work for two major reasons. First, war in Afghanistan or not, the US government continues to dump billions of dollars into a bogus “Drug War” in Columbia, and that money will continue to flow south for at least a few more years. It’s important to know why that money is really going down there. Second (and perhaps more important) Chomsky doesn’t restrict his argument to Columbia. Instead, he examines the patterns of behavior that the US government tends to adhere to with respect to foreign policy, and he applies these patterns to Columbia. It is important to understand that Columbia is not a unique case, that it follows a well established pattern of foreign policy, and that that pattern will continue to be used in other countries around the world until the majority of the US citizenry recognizes it and fights against it. –Sean (Alternative Tentacles, PO Box 419092, SF, CA 94141)