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Colombia's Paramilitaries: Criminals or Political Force?
This monograph supplements a special series stemming from a major conference entitled “Implementing Plan Colombia: Strategic and Operational Imperative.” The conference was cosponsored by the Dante B. Fascell North-South Center of the University of Miami and the Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College. The intent was to explore the...
This monograph supplements a special series stemming from a major conference entitled “Implementing Plan Colombia: Strategic and Operational Imperative.” The conference was cosponsored by the Dante B. Fascell North-South Center of the University of Miami and the Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College. The intent was to explore the multiple dimensions of Colombia’s ongoing crisis and inform the public debate regarding the challenges faced by the statesmen, intellectuals, military strategists, and others who take on the responsibility to deal with that crisis. Some of the monographs in the series have generated passions. This is another one that is likely to do that. Hopefully, it will also generate serious reflection about the tough choices Colombian, U.S., and other global leaders face. The author, David Spencer, points out, first, that the Colombian paramilitary “self-defense” forces represent some important sectors of society, and enjoy more popular support from Colombian society than the insurgents. Second, the paramilitaries have developed into a powerful irregular force that is proving itself capable of challenging Colombian guerrillas. Third, while they commit horrendous atrocities, they have been successful where the state has not. Therefore, the paramilitaries are seen by many as a viable solution to the conflict. Finally, he argues that until the segments of the society represented by the paramilitaries are--somehow--incorporated into the solution to the Colombian crisis, there will be no solution.
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