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Colombia's Conflicts: The Spillover Effects of a Wider War

Authored by Mr. Richard Millett.

December 01, 2002

48 Pages

Brief Synopsis

This monograph is the first in a new Special Series of monographs that stems from the February 2001 and the March 2002 conferences--co-sponsored by the Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College and The Dante B. Fascell North-South Center of the University of Miami--that dealt with the "Implementation of Plan Colombia." It provides a careful examination of the so-called "spillover" problems generated by Colombia's three simultaneous wars against illegal drug traffickers, insurgents, and self-appointed paramilitary groups. All seek, in one way or another, violently to change or depose the state. All use the uncontrolled "gray areas" in Colombia and its neighboring states to sustain, conduct, and replenish their nefarious operations without risk of significant interference. And, all these violent illegal entities constitute threats to stability and security that extend beyond Colombia and Latin America to Europe and the United States. Colombia is therefore a paradigm of the failing state that has enormous implications for U.S. foreign policy and military asset management for now and into the future.


In this monograph, Dr. Richard L. Millett succinctly documents how the “spillover” from the ongoing crisis in Colombia effects each of the five countries on its porous borders—as well as somewhat more distant states and regions. The author reminds us that this is not just a question of extraterritorial armed combat across frontiers with greedy illegal drug traffickers, leftist insurgents, and rightist paramilitary groups.

In today’s global village, there is no such thing as a purely national crisis or a purely military conflict. Every conflict has global political, economic, social, and security implications ranging from trade disruption to the growth of criminal organizations to refugee flows to violent clashes to local and regional political instability. Conditions of instability also undermine efforts to nurture democracy and free-market economies, and to install anything approaching the rule of law and human rights. Moreover, no single nation can confront these problems alone.

This takes us back to where Dr. Millett began—broader security concerns. The bottom-line solution to the problem presented in this monograph is straightforward. It is incumbent on Colombia and the broader hemispheric and global community to come together and collectively confront the emerging alliance between organized crime, terrorism, and the politics and economics of violence.

Access Full Report [PDF]: Colombia's Conflicts: The Spillover Effects of a Wider War

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