While the Clinton Administration was demonizing Yugoslavian strongman Slobodan Milosevic, Cuban dictator Fidel Castro was appearing on ESPN at a baseball game between the Cuban national team and the Baltimore Orioles. He was seated between Orioles owner Peter Angelos and Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig. Now, can anyone imagine Angelos and Selig sitting next to Milosevic to watch and enjoy a baseball game? The answer to that question helps demonstrate what is wrong with Clinton foreign policy and media coverage of that policy.
The baseball game between the Orioles and the Cuban team would not have happened without the blessing of the Clinton Administration. Yet the State Department annual reports on global terrorism for the years 1996 and 1997 list Castro?s Cuba as one of seven state-sponsors of terrorism. The others are Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria. Yugoslavia was not on the list. The State Department insists that Cuba did not sponsor any international terrorist activity in either year, but still provides sanctuary to terrorists from several different terrorist organizations.
Those organizations are likely to include the Revolutionary Armed forces of Colombia, the FARC, and the National Liberation Army, the ELN. Based in Colombia in Latin America, they are part of a civil war that has been going on for 30 years. But unlike Yugoslavia, this is a civil war that affects us. As noted by John Sweeney of The Heritage Foundation, Colombia produces 80 percent of the cocaine and two-thirds of the heroin making its way into the United States. The FARC and ELN control half of Colombia?s national territory and earn about $1 billion a year from drug trafficking and kidnaping.
Sweeney points out that, in December 1998, a White House official told a reporter for The Washington Post that Colombia “poses a greater immediate threat [to America] than Bosnia did, yet it receives almost no attention. So policy is set by default.” Sweeney comments, “This is a startling admission. It means that the Administration has no sound policy to deal with the growing political and security crisis presented by the turmoil and drug trafficking in Colombia.”
Further north, in a move that will exacerbate this problem, the Panama Canal is scheduled to be relinquished from American control on December 31, 1999. American bases and facilities in Panama will be abandoned as well. The U.S. had been involved in extensive discussions over a two-year period about establishing a Multinational Counternarcotics Center in Panama, for the purpose of cooperating in the fight against drug trafficking. But those negotiations broke down last September. This means that the U.S. won?t have a base or even a presence in Panama to monitor or deter drug activities targeted at the U.S.
On the other hand, Communist Chinese front companies are reported to be taking control of Panama?s major ports. Pat Buchanan has commented that it is absurd to waste $10 billion policing the Balkans but not a dime to keep Communist China from encroaching on the Panama Canal. That view is not popular in the media, and the price tag in the Balkans is going up – in money and blood.