Colombia's FARC: More Than Just Opportunistic Criminals
Air War College Air University Maxwell AFB United States
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For almost half a century, Columbia has been engaged in a relentless battle against a well-organized leftist guerilla group known as Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia Ejrcito del Pueblo FARC for short. This heavily-armed organization originally created to defend the rights of the countrys forgotten poor has several goals. Among them are to overthrow the Colombian government, create a new state founded on Marxist-Leninist principles, liberate the country from the ruling-class elites, and defeat the lawless national military. One of the United States staunchest allies, Colombia is a dichotomy of sorts. Not only is it one of our key military and trading partners in Latin America, it is also one of the worlds leading producers of cocaine third behind Peru and Bolivia. The revenue generated from this illicit drug trade is what sustains the FARC undoubtedly the primary national security threat to Colombia as well as a key antagonist in Americas ongoing war on drugs. It is therefore in our national interest to help Colombia resolve its internal struggle, and understanding the FARC and the role it plays in the region is an essential part of that effort.Over the decades, two main bodies of thought have emerged regarding the FARC. The first views the organization as one that began with a revolutionary cause but degraded into a violent criminal network of narco-traffickers and rent-seeking profiteers. This group rejects the notion of a peace settlement and believes the only way to deal with the FARC is with a heavy-handed approach similar to the one implemented by President lvaro Uribe from 2002 to 2010. Meanwhile, the other camp sees the FARC as a well-organized insurgency fueled by an ideology possessing legitimate economic, social, and political elements.