American citizens enjoy a legal concept that many na- tions do not. Domestically, the United States has a clear separation between the uses of its military and the uses of its law enforcement agencies. U.S. law gener- ally restricts the military from use against its citizens. While this separation does not guide U.S. operations in battleground environments like Iraq and Afghanistan, it remains very strong at home.
On July 13, 2000, President Bill Clinton signed into law a $1.3 billion package of mostly military aid, known as “Plan Colombia,” that made Colombia by far the biggest U.S. aid recipient outside the Middle East. Now, ten years later, Colombia often gets described as a “success” in Washington. Officials and analysts point to improvements in several measures of security in the conflict-torn South American country. They give the credit to U.S. assistance and to President Álvaro Uribe, who took over in 2002 and implemented a hard-line security policy.
A still-unfolding scandal in Colombia is revealing American Commission on Human Rights,” establishing that the government’s intelligence agency not only spied upon major players in Colombia’s democracy—from Supreme Court and Constitutional Court judges to presidential candidates, from journalists and publishers to human rights defenders, from international organizations to U.S. and European human rights groups—but also carried out dirty tricks, and even death threats, to undermine their legitimate, democratic activities.
Across Latin America, governments and publics viewed Barack Obama’s election with surprise and hope. Presidents eagerly lined up to shake his hand and share a brief moment of history at the April 2009 Summit of the Americas in Trinidad, and many dared to dream that a new relationship with the region might dawn. President Obama’s words at the summit helped inspire that hope.
Forced eradication is a deeply entrenched aspect of U.S. international drug control policy. It has the appeal of seeming “tough” and straightforward — if we wipe out drugs at the “source,” they won’t make it to our shores — and it has attained enormous political and bureaucratic inertia. But after nearly three decades, the effort to eliminate drugs at the point of production, chiefly through forced crop eradication, has failed.
This report independently evaluates "Integrated Action," a new approach to state-building and counterinsurgency that the U.S. government is supporting in Colombia. Ten years and $6.8 billion after the 2000 launch of "Plan Colombia," officials from both governments are billing Integrated Action as the future direction of U.S. assistance to Colombia.