While we seem to be wallowing in our foreign policy failures, we need to celebrate one of our critical successes. Twenty years ago, Colombia was suffering from an active insurgencies that perpetuated great violence on the Colombian people. These same insurgencies were also fueling a large increase in cocaine smuggled into the U.S. Twenty years later, we have a peace agreement, and a far more peaceful and stable Colombia. This was no accident. while most of the credit must go to the Colombian government and people, the United States planned a critical role. I must admit upfront that I take special interest in this success because my wife, Allison Blanchard (then Allison Major) was a key player who helped frame the U.S. policy that was such a success.
Bill Lane has a great op-ed in the Wall Street Journal explaining this success:
Read it all here. Some other articles about this success can be found here, here, and here.A politician looking for new material should cast a gaze toward South America. Twenty years ago, Colombia was on the verge of becoming a narco-terrorist state. The government had ceded large swaths of territory to the left-wing Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. In 2000, President Clinton and House Speaker Dennis Hastert came together in a bipartisan effort to help Colombians take back their country. It was known as Plan Colombia.The program combined military assistance with civil-society initiatives. Free-market reforms were included, resulting in the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement. All of this bolstered the efforts of Colombia’s determined political leaders, its courageous citizenry and its dedicated military.. . .The U.S. invested about $10 billion in Plan Colombia. To put it in perspective, the financial cost of the entire effort was equivalent to about three weeks of the Iraq war.Plan Colombia is a reminder that a sustained, bipartisan intervention that includes defense, diplomacy, development and democratic values can be effective. Smart power isn’t cheap, quick or easy, but it can work.