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Research Report

A Roadmap for US Engagement with Colombia

Roy Blunt
Ben Cardin
Peter Schechter
Jason Marczak
Copyright Date: May. 1, 2017
Published by: Atlantic Council
Pages: 48
OPEN ACCESS
https://www.jstor.org/stable/resrep03711
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 1-2)
    Roy Blunt and Ben Cardin

    The United States faces a wide range of challenges in the world today. As members of the United States Senate we believe our nation’s response to these challenges should be guided by America’s values and principles, and informed by a rigorous evaluation of our past commitments, current capabilities, and future imperatives.

    This report strives to provide precisely such an assessment of US policy toward Colombia. After nearly two decades of close partnership under the Plan Colombia framework, our countries’ relationship is at a defining moment. At the very moment a new Administration in the United States is establishing its foreign...

  2. (pp. 6-8)

    “We don’t win anymore,” said Donald Trump as he campaigned for president of the United States. Then-candidate Trump was channeling the nation’s frustration with drawn-out military deployments and inconclusive outcomes in the Middle East. But here in the Americas there exists a clear and compelling — if still incomplete — victory for US national security policy. The Trump administration and Congress now have an opportunity to consolidate that victory.

    In 1999, the United States confronted the reality that a hemispheric ally, Colombia, had lost control of two thirds of its territory to competing terrorist organizations — the Revolutionary Armed Forces...

  3. (pp. 9-11)

    Almost two decades after Plan Colombia was created to protect US interests, Colombia’s democratic institutions are increasingly strong, but need continued strengthening. While Colombia faces undeniable challenges, including consolidating the rule of law and combating resurgent coca cultivation, it has become a successful, entrepreneurial country that, in a decade, could well become one of Latin America’s first higher income nations.

    Today, a strong partnership with Colombia represents not just a chance to manage ongoing challenges but to seize opportunities. Growing economic, diplomatic, and governance capacity makes it an attractive partner for the United States. Having accompanied Colombia in hard times,...

  4. (pp. 12-13)

    It is tempting to believe that Plan Colombia was hatched in some idealized pre-partisan Washington. It was not. The strategy’s initial adoption and subsequent renewal, year after year, were subject to intense debate and scrutiny. Plan Colombia’s bipartisan support, clear goals, and longevity — ultimately fundamental to its success29 — were made possible by high-minded national security policy making and visionary leaders in both parties, but also by old-fashioned political coaxing and compromise, and crucially, the strong perception that US taxpayer dollars were well-invested in a committed partner achieving measurable results that benefited US interests.

    Plan Colombia enjoyed significant bipartisan...

  5. (pp. 14-23)

    Consistent with the bipartisan legacy of Plan Colombia, in April 2016, the US Senate adopted by unanimous consent a resolution marking the fifteenth anniversary of Plan Colombia and “supporting efforts by the Government of Colombia to pursue peace and the end of the country’s enduring internal armed conflict.”39 A year earlier, a US special envoy had been named to facilitate the negotiations, while Congress has continued to appropriate hundreds of millions of dollars annually in assistance.40 But, support in the United States should not hide growing fissures in Colombia.

    Cracks began to appear in the policy consensus,41 potentially complicating US...

  6. (pp. 24-28)

    The Colombia Peace and Prosperity Task Force set out to discuss and define how the Trump administration and the United States Congress can advance US national security, economic, and geopolitical interests while best supporting Colombia at a defining moment in the country’s history.

    The recommendations that follow are based on our analysis, reflected in this report, of why Colombia matters to the United States, what we can learn from the successes of Plan Colombia, and how the United States can best safeguard its interests and sustain a tradition of bipartisan policy making on Colombia. Our premise is that while the...