Pubdate: Mon, 17 Mar 2003
Source: News & Observer (NC)
Copyright: 2003 The News and Observer Publishing Company
Author: Gail A. Phares
Bookmark: (Terrorism)
Bookmark: (Colombia)


As Congress and the public focus on preparations for war with Iraq, the 
U.S. government deepens its involvement with the 40-year-old civil war in 
Colombia. The Associated Press has reported that the U.S. recently 
dispatched 150 soldiers to search for the intelligence operatives whose 
plane was downed last month. This deployment brings the number of U.S. 
troops in Colombia to over 400. The United States continues to pursue a 
dangerously simplistic policy instead of addressing the deep and complex 
causes of the conflict, revolving around economic issues.

Last year's focus was the "war on drugs," which has now morphed into the 
"war on terrorism." By all measures the anti-drug mission has failed. The 
price of cocaine and heroin on U.S. streets has remained constant and the 
amount of coca grown in South America has stayed the same.

Will the annual level of military aid continue to grow to $1 billion, $2 
billion or more? Will we see an increased U.S. military presence in 
Colombia? How much military aid is enough to guarantee success? What is the 
definition of success in Colombia?

After 40 years of war, Colombia needs a negotiated peace to solve its 
complex problems, not more war. Support for alternative development 
programs to help poor farmers transition from growing drug crops is an 
essential step. In the U.S., expanded drug treatment programs will do more 
to reduce the drug problem than any interdiction program we finance in 

Gail A. Phares, Raleigh

- -

The writer, who is with the Carolina Interfaith Task Force on Central 
America, has made several trips to Colombia.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jackl