was alarmed by President Clinton’s recentrnmove to deepen U.S. involvementrnin Colombia’s civil war by deliveringrn$1.3 billion of additional foreign aid tornthe Bogota regime. Actually, it’s farrnworse, I told her. Clinton is not merelyrnsending cash that could be easily stolenrnand, therefore, kept out of the civil war.rnHe’s sending attack helicopters, herbicide,rnand military “advisors” into thernColombian jungle.rnHer primary concern was with the impactrnthat the U.S.-backed intensification ofrnthe conflict would have on the environmentrnand human rights. No doubt thingsrnwill get far worse for Colombian farmers,rnforests, and critics of Colombia’s rulers.rnBut, I told her, I worry more about myrncountr)’ getting drawn into this 40-year warrnbetween Colombian Marxists and theirrngovernment opponents. Political violencernin the region stretches back into the mid-rn19th centun, and certainlv beyond. Oncernagain, it looks like the United States isrnmarching determinately into a foreignrnbedlam of ancient animosities.rnAid to Colombia is officially “agricultural,”rnintended to assist the Colombianrngovernment’s eradication of cocainerncrops. But the civil war and the drug warrnare inseparable, since the Marxist insurgentsrncontrol much of the cocaine crop.rnIn fact, my Catalonian is convinced,rnwhat really motivates the Colombianrnregime is the desire not to eradicate thisrnvaluable commodity but to control its distributionrnwhile rubbing out the rebels.rnEven if U.S. aid succeeded in shuttingrndown cocaine production in Colombia,rnthe drug farming would mereh’ migraternto Colombia’s neighbors, just as drugrndealers in New York City shift their activitiesrnfrom one neighborhood to anotherrnto avoid the police.rnRecently, the authorities discovered arnsubmarine in the hills of Colombia. Accordingrnto Pravcfa — sorry, I mean thernHerald-Trihune, the sub was being builtrnby drug smugglers and could have transportedrn11 tons of cocaine. The Herald-rnTribune argued that this strengthened thernClinton administration’s position onrnColombia. Surely, it should do just thernopposite.rnThis story has all the marks of a setup,rnincluding a Russian connection (the instructionrnmanuals for building the submarinernwere in Russian). And after Kosovo,rnwe should all assume anything wernhear supporting American interventionismrnabroad is a lie. But if this story wererntrue, it would only confirm what we alreadyrnknow: that the situation in Colombiarnis not an ordinary drug-interdictionrnprogram and our aid is not agricultural.rnWe are supplying arms, aid, and advice tornone side in a deadly civil war, fought betweenrnwell-equipped and well-fundedrnarmies. As the Herald-Trihune put it, typicallyrnonly navies of sovereign nationsrnpossess the sort of submarine supposedlyrnfound in the Colombian hills.rnMy Catalonian friend wanted to knowhowrnClinton, formerly a Vietnam Warrnprotester, could possibly want to startrnAmerica down the road to war in Colombia.rnPerhaps, she suggested, we shouldrnsuspect another affair-of-the-pants is givingrnhim this bravado, just as cuddlingrnwith Monica Lewinsky gave him therncourage to oppose Newt Cingrich duringrnthe 1995 government shutdown. I toldrnher that it was more likely typical Clintonianrnhubris and sophistry. The Clintonitesrnare supremely confident that theyrnare always right, both morally and tactically.rnAnd they can talk themselves intornany position necessary to advance themselvesrnin power.rntil 1994, when the Clinton administrationrnoverthrew the government of Haiti, Irnwas at Oxford. Strobe Talbot visited torngive a lecture on the role of the UnitedrnStates in the world. The talk was nonsense,rnand most of the questions werernharmless. I raised my hand toward thernend, and Talbot announced that minernwould be the last question. I produced arncopy of the letter Clinton had writtenrnfrom Oxford opposing America’s involvementrnin the internal disputes of sovereignrnnations, particularly Vietnam. After readingrnthe letter, I asked: “Since Clinton recentlyrnlaunched an invasion force thatrnresulted in the overthrow of the governmentrnof Haiti, I’m wondering whetherrnvou think he was wrong back in the 60’srnor is he wrong now?”rnI never expected Talbot’s reaction. Hernturned purple with rage. “No dictionary’rnin Oxford would call our installation of therndemocratically elected leader of Haiti anrninvasion!” he bellowed. This was an obfuscation:rnAn invasion is an invasion, evenrnif it is justified. (Recall the Allied invasionrnof Normand}-.) But to the Clintonites, thernwords “war,” “invasion,” and “attack” arernreserved for our official enemies. ThernUnited States and our vassals are peacekeepersrnand democracy-builders. Realityrnsomehow bends to their linguistic conni’rnances. Sex with Monica? It all dependsrnon your definition of “is.”rnThe dons at Oxford were taken abackrnby Talbot’s ill-mannered response; hernhad dodged the question. I hadn’t askedrnabout the definition of “invasion” butrnabout how his boss had gone from articulatingrnthe principles of noninterventionrnand national sovereignty to launching arnglobal crusade for democracy and humanrnrights. Talbot behaved as if such arnquestion were beneath the dignity of hisrnoffice.rnSensing his answer had been insufficient,rnTalbot approached me on his wayrnout. I should have been intimidated becausernarmed bodyguards surroundedrnhim. He took my hand in his, giving it arnshake. “That was the easiest closing questionrnI’ve had,” he lied. (I could see hernwas calmer now. His complexion had returnedrnto past}’, though a vein still bulgedrnand pulsed in his neck.) My friends sittingrnclose by could not believe this masterrnof the American hyperpower felt thernneed to attempt to embarrass a 20-somethingrnundergraduate who had asked arntroubling question.rnI looked into his lying eyes and said,rn”Go to Hell, a–hole.”rnClinton can push us into centuries-oldrnwars in the Balkans and in South Americarn—wars that will only spread to neighboringrncountries when the catalyst ofrnAmerican power is introduced —becausernhe believes with all his heart that his warsrnare peace.rnThe story impressed my Catalanrnfriend. She laughed and touched myrnarm. Her look made me suspect she onlyrnhalf-believed the details, but she likedrnthe moral of the stor’. “You’re saying thatrnAmerica’s rulers are interventionists becausernthey are deluded and evil,” she obsen’ed.rnNow, it was m’ turn to smile. The mojitosrnarrived. We had talked enough truthrnabout the world for this hour of the morning-rn”Oh, John,” she said, “Maybe it’s notrntoo late to stop it all.”rnOn the eastern edge of the sea, the firstrnfits of sunlight were visible. The breezernblowing onto the terrace was salty andrncool. We both took long drinks from ourrnglasses.rn”Yes,” I said, “Isn’t it prett}’ to think so.”rn]ohn Carney, an attorney in New YorkrnCit} is a graduate of the University ofrnPensylvania Law School.rnTo Suhscrihern1-800-877-S459rnAPRIL 2001/39rnrnrn