October 12, 2000 - Colombia’s rampant lawlessness, insecurity and corruption represent one of the major threats to democracy and economic progress in Latin America. The stakes are that high, according to an Independent Task Force sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations and the Inter-American Dialogue.
Co-chaired by Senator Bob Graham and General Brent Scowcroft, and directed by Michael Shifter, the Independent Task Force recommends a four-point strategy to respond to the deteriorating situation. Towards Greater Peace and Security in Colombia: Forging a Constructive U.S. Policy calls for a multitrack approach that supports Colombia’s efforts to achieve peace and reconciliation by helping to professionalize the country’s military forces, curtail widespread human rights abuses, strengthen political, judicial, and social reform efforts, and restore the economy.
The Task Force urges a longer-term policy that goes beyond the emphasis on fighting drugs reflected in the recent $1.3 billion aid package to Colombia. The country’s problems are more complex, and stem from the state’s inability to protect its citizens. The report outlines the key US interests at stake in Colombia, and makes it clear that any long-term solution to Colombia’s problems will require the US to curb its own demand for drugs. While the responsibility for finding a solution depends on the Colombians, the United States and the international community can and must assist the troubled country in its struggle for peace.
The US needs to pursue a more vigorous multilateral approach and mobilize support from other countries in Latin America and Europe, along with relevant international bodies, to make progress in carrying out political and diplomatic efforts, combating illegal narcotics, and extending economic and trade benefits to Colombia.
A comprehensive U.S. policy that brings together military, political, and socio-economic dimensions can best contribute to strengthening the legitimacy and effectiveness of the Colombian government, and to supporting its people in their fight for democracy.
Senator Bob Graham, former governor from Florida, is now in his third term as senator from that state. General Brent Scowcroft, president of the Forum for International Policy, served as national security advisor under President Bush. A distinguished and diverse group of task force members and Colombian advisors participated in this effort.
The Council on Foreign Relations is a nonpartisan organization dedicated to improving the understanding of US foreign policy and international affairs through the free and civil exchange of ideas. The Inter-American Dialogue is an assembly of leaders from across the hemisphere and a center for policy analysis on Western Hemisphere affairs.
Independent Task Force on U.S. Policy Toward Colombia
Sponsored by Council on Foreign Relations and InterAmerican Dialogue
Senator Bob Graham, (D-Fla)
General Brent Scowcroft, President, Forum for International Policy and former National Security Adviser to President Bush
Task Force Members
Elliott Abrams, President, Ethics and Public Policy Center
Stanley S. Arkin, Senior Partner, Arkin Schaffer & Kaplan LLP
Cynthia Arnson, Assistant Director, Latin American Program, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
Bernard Aronson, Chairman and Partner, Acon Investments LLC
Joyce Chang, Managing Director, International Fixed Income, Chase Securities
Robert Charles, President, Direct Impact LLC
Mike DeWine, Senator (R-OH), United States Senate
Jorge I. Domínguez, Clarence Dillon Professor of International Relations and Director, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University
Mathea Falco, President, Drug Strategies
J. Samuel Fitch, Professor of Political Science, University of Colorado at Boulder
Sergio J. Galvis, Partner, Sullivan & Cromwell
Michael Gavin, Director, Economic and Financial Research, Warburg Dillon Read LLP
Charles A. Gillespie, Jr., Resident Senior Fellow, Forum for International Policy
Richard N. Haass, Director, Foreign Policy Studies Program, Brookings Institution
Henry Allen Holmes, Adjunct Professor, Georgetown University
James R. Jones, Senior Counsel, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips
George Joulwan, Former CINC, US Southern Command
Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Lieutenant Governor, State of Maryland
Anthony Lake, Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy, Georgetown University
Abraham F. Lowenthal, President, Pacific Council on International Policy
Thomas F. McLarty, Vice Chairman, Kissinger McLarty Associates
Thomas McNamara, President, Americas Society
Ambler Moss, Jr., Director, Dante B. Fascell North-South Center, and Professor of International Studies, University of Miami
Lilia L. Ramírez, Director, Congressional Relations, Raytheon Corporation
Ervin J. Rokke, President, Moravian College
David J. Rothkopf, President, Newmarket Company
Viron P. Vaky, Senior Fellow, Inter-American Dialogue
Alexander F. Watson, Vice President and Executive Director, Latin American and Caribbean Division, The Nature Conservancy
The report is available on the websites of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Inter-American Dialogue. A Spanish version will also be available on the Dialogue’s website.