Author: Dr Thomas A Marks
For the first time in 40 years, cautious optimism pervades discussions of Bogota’s seemingly intractable situation. Drugs, terrorism, and insurgency continue in their explosive mix, but the current government of President Alvaro Uribe has fashioned a counterinsurgency approach that holds the strategic initiative and has a chance of negating a long-standing security threat to the state. Colombia has become synonymous in the popular mind with an intractable war waged against narco-terrorists. Not as understood is the strategic setting, wherein the illegal drug trade is not just linked to terrorism but rather is an integral part of a left-wing insurgency that continues to talk the language of the Cold War. This insurgency is the greatest threat to Bogota and to Washington’s interests in the region. Thus it is of particular moment to see an indigenously generated response succeed in turning the tide. What has been particularly remarkable has been a military reform movement engineered by Colombian officers committed to strengthening military professionalism and accountability to civilian authority.