Colombian Labyrinth: The Synergy of Drugs and Insurgency and Its Implications for Regional Stability

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Rand Corporation, Jun 8, 2001 - History - 128 pages
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U.S. policy toward Colombia has been driven to a large extent by counter-narcotics considerations, but the evolving situation in that South American country confronts the United States with as much of a national security as a drug policy problem. Colombia is a geostrategically important country, whose trajectory will influence broader trends in the Andean region and beyond. Colombian Labyrinth examines the sources of instability in the country; the objectives, strategy, strengths, and weaknesses of the government, guerrillas, and paramilitaries and the balances among them; and the effects of the current U.S. assistance program. Possible scenarios and futures for Colombia are laid out, with implications for both the United States and neighboring countries. The authors find that instability in Colombia stems from the interaction and synergies of the underground drug economy and armed challenges to the state's authority. Solutions to the core problem--the weakness of the Colombian State--must focus on resolving the broader set of political-military challenges that result from the convergence of drug trafficking and insurgency. The authors recommend that Colombia's military and institutional capabilities be improved to enable the Colombian government to regain control of the countryside and that, at the same time, the United States work with Colombia's neighbors to contain the risk of spillover and regional destabilization.
 

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Contents

INTRODUCTION SOURCES OF INSTABILITY
1
Political Trends
2
Economic Trends
4
Social Trends
6
Roadmap to the Report
8
THE ILLEGAL DRUG TRADE
11
The Main Players
14
Impact of Drug Trade on Colombia and the Region
16
COLOMBIAN GOVERNMENT STRATEGY
61
CounterNarcotics Strategy
64
Role of the United States
67
THE PEACE NEGOTIATIONS
71
Prospects for a Peace Settlement
74
Conclusions
78
COLOMBIAN FUTURES
79
Turning the Tide
80

Impact of the Drug Trade on US Interests
18
The US Response
20
ORIGINS AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE GUERRILLAS
23
The National Liberation Army ELN
30
Other Guerrilla Groups
31
Links to the Drug Trade
32
Other Sources of Guerrilla Income
33
The Arms Pipeline
35
Supporting Networks and InformationAge Warfare
37
GUERRILLA STRATEGY
39
The Local Dimension of Guerrilla Strategy
46
THE ILLEGAL SELFDEFENSE GROUPS CAUSE OR SYMPTOM OF THE DISORDER?
53
Allegations of Collusion with the Colombian Military
57
Links to the Drug Trade
58
Political Actors or Criminals?
59
Stalemate
81
The Peruvian Model
82
Internationalization of the Conflict
83
A WIDER CONFLICT?
85
Venezuela
87
Ecuador
88
Brazil
90
Conclusions
91
IMPLICATIONS FOR US INTERESTS
93
OperationalLevel Implications
95
Regional Cooperation
97
Conclusions
99
The Colombian Armed Forces
101
Bibliography
107
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About the author (2001)

Angel M. Rabasa (Ph.D., History, Harvard University) is a senior policy analyst at RAND. He was previously the Deputy Director, Office of Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, and Singapore Affairs at the Department of State and has held numerous State and Defense Department positions.

Peter Chalk (University of British Columbia, Canada, Ph.D., 1994, in Political Science) researches terrorism, transnational crime and issues of national, regional and international security at RAND.

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