Adding together active-duty military, National Guard and reserves, state and local police, and federal law enforcement (ICE, CBP, FBI, Coast Guard, etc.), the United States has about 3.5 million military and police personnel out of an adult population of about 240 million. That means about one out of every 68 Americans wears a uniform.
Great overview by David Smilde.
What are the politics of the recent tensions between Venezuela and Colombia?
The most recent tensions started when Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos agreed to meet with former presidential candidate and current Miranda Governor Henrique Capriles. For the Venezuelan government that was an affront because Capriles does not recognize Maduro as the legitimate president of Venezuela. Closely on the heels of that meeting Santos announced Colombia’s intention to strengthen ties to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. This latter is significant since NATO is the world’s most powerful military alliance.
Venezuela’s entire foreign policy has been predicated on the idea of Latin American unity and recent years have seen significant progress with the creation of the Union of Southern Nations (UNASUR) and the Council of Latin American Heads of State (CELAC). Colombia’s presence and collaboration has been an essential element of this and their moving closer to NATO could throw a wrench in regional unity.
Part of what has happened is that Juan Manuel Santos is up for reelection in May 2014 and this seems like a move to strengthen his credentials as being tough on Venezuela—both Hugo Chávez and now Nicolas Maduro are very unpopular in Colombia—and close to the United States. Santos was elected as the successor to Uribe. But one of his major policy shifts as president was to reconcile and strengthen ties with Venezuela. This has helped the Colombian economy and facilitated a peace process with guerrilla groups but included sacrifices such as pulling out of a deal with the United States to have US military presence at Colombian bases.
“In La Paz, the Morales government has given Brazil the green light to send its reconnaissance drones over Bolivian airspace in an effort to monitor the cocaine trade. …
“[T]he Rousseff administration has signed an agreement with Argentina allowing for cooperation in the further development of drone technology. …
“Concerned about terrorism in advance of the Confederations Cup, Brazil has also deployed its drones near the Uruguayan border. Indeed, the Rousseff administration is negotiating a drone “code of conduct” with Montevideo and Asuncion that would allow Brazilian drones to monitor their territories. …
“Not taking any chances, and hardly wishing to experience the same fate as the DEA, Brazil has been careful to insert strict provisos within the so-called code of conduct agreements with neighboring countries such as Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay. Under the accords, drone flights are to be limited, and neighboring governments will be allowed to view intelligence data from the unmanned aerial vehicles. …
“Brazil is probably correct in pushing for an “under the radar” drone program with Paraguay. Asuncion has long been wary of Brazil, a country that enjoys significant economic influence in the Paraguayan countryside.”
“I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions, and that the return of this information to the public marks my end.
“You can’t protect the source, but if you help me make the truth known, I will consider it a fair trade.
“Perhaps I am naive, but I believe that at this point in history, the greatest danger to our freedom and way of life comes from the reasonable fear of omniscient State powers kept in check by nothing more than policy documents.
“We managed to survive greater threats in our history . . . than a few disorganized terrorist groups and rogue states without resorting to these sorts of programs. It is not that I do not value intelligence, but that I oppose . . . omniscient, automatic, mass surveillance. . . . That seems to me a greater threat to the institutions of free society than missed intelligence reports, and unworthy of the costs.”
NSA leaker Edward Snowden in his own words.
So much more eloquent than President Obama’s lame defense of PRISM and similar programs when the news emerged last week.
Assume for a moment that some of these measures really have helped make our persons and property safer—are they worth it? Where and when was the public debate on whether they’re worth it? Was there no such debate because we’re not capable of having or demanding one? Why not? Have we actually become so selfish and scared that we don’t even want to consider whether some things trump safety? What kind of future does that augur?