by Thomas Knapp
To call the Summit of the Americas “prostitution scandal,” in which at least 23 US Secret Service and military personnel are now “implicated,” a tempest in a teapot is to vastly over-estimate its impact and importance.
Let’s put this alleged “scandal” to bed (pun intended): Prostitution is legal in Colombia and this whole circus is centered around an argument over an (allegedly) $800 bill. If the bill had been for a bar tab or a restaurant check, we’d have never heard about it, or any scandal attached would have been over the bill being discounted by 75% after police intervention (go shoplift an $800 laptop and see if you can swing an outcome like that!). As is so often the case, the American media’s appetite for prurient gossip has once again driven the real stories off the front pages and out of the spotlight.
If we’re looking for real scandals, an interesting place to start might be asking how much money the White House spent sending President Barack Obama to Cartagena to hobnob with 30-odd other heads of state. My guess is the check came to considerably more than $800. Haven’t these people heard of Skype?
Setting aside the monetary costs of the summit itself, we can also find scandal in its purpose and approach. One of Obama’s primary goals in attending was to hold the line on the US government’s failed “war on drugs,” a purpose for which he recently also dispatched vice president Joe Biden on a Latin American junket.
Expensive as the drug war is to the US taxpayer (tens of billions of dollars per year in direct expenditures, not counting the social costs of hundreds of thousands of arrests and incarcerations, the economic costs of suppressing a major enterprise niche, etc.), those costs pale next to the price imposed on other countries putatively represented by state officials at the summit. The US government’s imposition of its drug policy on other states has turned much of Latin America into a literal battleground.
Every day that the “war on drugs” continues is a scandal measured in buckets of blood. Its sole output, other than human beings in cages or body bags, is ever-increasing state power.
Speaking of which, another scandal: The exclusion of Cuba’s government from the summit. While on his holiday from a packed schedule of attempting to impose clones of Havana’s health care system and police state on America — the number of Americans in prison or under “correctional supervision” of some type now just about equals the island nation’s population — Obama answered critics of the Castro regime’s exclusion with a paean to “the democratic and human rights of the Cuban people.” No word on the cleanup tab from 30 heads of state expelling whatever they were drinking through their noses in surprised laughter at that one.
Ultimately, I suppose the biggest scandal was not the summit itself, nor any particular internal feature or activity of the summit, but the fact that the jokers who participated in it reign as lords over, while falsely claiming to represent the interests of, nearly a billion human beings.
They gathered in Colombia for the purpose of discussing how they might most efficiently continue to milk our lives, our labor and our wealth for the benefit of themselves and the political class they represent. Next to that level of evil, an argument with a prostitute over the size of the tab sounds downright wholesome.