ColOpEdJones2000 - ColOpEdJones2000 The Washington Post...

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ColOpEdJones2000 The Washington Post April 2, 2000, Sunday, Final Edition SECTION: OUTLOOK; Pg. B02 LENGTH: 1686 words HEADLINE: We're Targeting A Colombia We Don't Fully Understand BYLINE: James C. Jones BODY: Having worked among the peasants who grow drug crops in Colombia, where the continent's longest-running armed conflict continues to seethe, I am troubled by the misguided premise of the Clinton administration's proposed $ 1.3 billion Colombia aid package. The declared goal of our Colombia policy is to staunch the flow of illicit drugs. But the aid package, which won House approval Thursday with a few modifications, will not control drugs--because our policy fails to recognize the roots of the conflict. In treating rebels as narco-guerrillas, the policy ignores their 36-year-old political agenda, which focuses on the needs of Colombia's forgotten rural citizens. The rebels come from a population that was forced long ago to colonize remote lands in order to survive; they must be understood first as peasants, then as insurgents. Instead, the package's emphasis on military intervention represents a blind zeal to check the vast spread of drug crops and contain the rebels whom U.S. officials hold responsible. That approach will serve only to prolong the decades of violence. It could even draw us into an ugly civil war, in a land where things are not what they seem. The aid package is directed primarily against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, the country's major rebel group, which defends both drug traffickers and the legions of peasant coca farmers. The package will provide military support-- better reconnaissance and helicopters for greater troop mobility and firepower--for the Colombian National Police in its efforts to eradicate coca by aerial spraying. The crop spraying will begin in Putumayo State, a southern FARC stronghold where about half of the country's coca is grown. The underlying assumption is that fortifying the armed forces will prompt the FARC to negotiate. I challenge this assumption and question the push into Putumayo. Recent history shows why: About four years ago, as the FARC began to deal crippling blows to Colombia's military, it also began to behave more like a regular army, amassing its forces and moving them openly. The aid package, with its promised helicopters and improved
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surveillance, is more likely to push FARC into its guerrilla mode than to bring it to the peace table. It could also inspire the rebels to launch an urban campaign of sabotage and assassination. If so, right-wing militias would probably retaliate with increased assaults
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This note was uploaded on 02/15/2011 for the course POLSC 271 taught by Professor Erickson during the Fall '10 term at CUNY Hunter.

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ColOpEdJones2000 - ColOpEdJones2000 The Washington Post...

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