Fresh, Squeezed Trouble in Latin America

My first column is in the Sun-Sentinel today. It combines two issues I’ve discussed previously on this blog: military intervention in sovereign nations and our lopsided drug policy. It also includes a bit of history with which the vast majority of Americans are sadly unfamiliar. If you thought you understood Colombia and the FARC from what you read in the newspapers these days, think again. You can read it all here, and below are the addenda:  

  • For the full history of the War on Drugs, check out Ben Wallace-Wells’s December 2007 piece in Rolling Stone. It is a must-read for anyone who intends to hold an informed opinion on the matter.
  • For the full story of the Obama administration’s new plans in Colombia, check out Moira Birss’s analysis at AlterNet.
  • The #1 public intellectual in the world weighs in on the military expansion with his inimicable logic here. He also provides the recent history of Latin America that often escapes most media outlets. His and Birss’s articles give something that is sorely lacking in our public debate: an explanation of how Latin America feels about the matter and why they feel that way.
  • Mary O’Grady, who arguably sits on the opposite side of the political spectrum from Birss and Chomsky, made the same argument about the War on Drugs a few days ago in the Wall Street Journal, showing how just about everyone who knows the details of the policy has come to this conclusion.
  • Blaire Pascal was quite the polymath. Aside from his contribution to hydraulic physics, he is known in theology for Pascal’s Wager and in mathematics for Pascal’s Triangle. Pascal’s Wager actually combines revolutionary mathematics with theology, a feat few intellectuals have matched. The most recent critic of Pascal’s Wager is the most famous New Atheist, Richard Dawkins, in his book The God Delusion. He proposes an “anti-Pascal wager” that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense because it ignores the very probability theory that Pascal christened. He does, however, make a more damning philosophical counterargument, which you can read here, along with Pascal’s response. I press these points, which are unrelated to my column but for their connection to Pascal, because Pascal’s Wager is the way many people live their spiritual lives without realizing it; if you want to lead an intellectually honest religious life, you should consider these arguments.

As usual, don’t forget to read the original column.