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View Diary: Evo Morales Wins and Bush's New Bird Shit War (91 comments)

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  •  Coca will indeed be the excuse (4.00)
    I predict that coca will indeed be the excuse for intervention, but we need to get straight right now that it's a totally bogus one -- even if Morales permits legal exports of the coca leaves to places where they might be refined into cocaine.

    If Bolivian coca production or export is a justification for intervention there, then numerous countries in the world would be justified in intervening here based on our production and export of tobacco products.  In 2004, the United States exported raw tobacco and tobacco "waste" having a value of $1.044 billion, plus manufactured tobacco products (primarily cigarettes) having a value of $1.567 billion.  That's a total of $2.611 billion of U.S. exports of a product that will kill a substantial proportion of the people who use it, and that will dwarf the death toll from coca products.  The TOTAL exports of the Bolivian economy are under $2 billion, and the great majority of them have nothing whatsoever to do with coca.

    Our insistence on dealing with OUR cocaine problem by attempting to stop coca production in South American countries where coca is traditionally used in a manner that doesn't cause major social problems bears a major share of the responsibility for the civil war in Colombia, for the Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) violence in Peru, and for the popularity of Evo Morales in Bolivia.  Several years ago, my wife and I were part of a small tour group in Peru which included visits to Cuzco and Machu Picchu, where coca is openly sold, and where it is commonly consumed by the peasants by chewing the leaves, and by the more prosperous residents as coca tea.  On our last night in the highlands, I asked the members of our group what they thought the chances were of stopping coca production in the Andean highlands.  Without exception, the members of our group predicted that any government that seriously tried to outlaw coca production and to enforce such a ban would either fall (if enough of the country was in the highlands) or would engender a revolution in the highlands.

    Cocaine use is unquestionably a problem in the United States, but we need to deal with it HERE, not be exporting the social costs of dealing with it to South American countries.

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