The concepts of “Defense” and “Sovereignty” put to test
“The continent lacks multilateral forums in which to define and implement concrete measures that involve military means and guarantee a shared security”Independent of the fact that it is obvious that disputes among States should not be resolved with gunshots, it is no less significant that we similarly cannot allow sovereign States to systematically close their eyes to (at the very least) the use of their territory by insurgent groups attempting to overthrow democratic governments or, in the case of the narcotraffickers, undermine their very foundations.
Up to what point does this practice (giving refuge to rebel groups, which is how the Organization of American States (OAS) views FARC) not also represent a violation of the sovereignty and integrity of another neighboring State that is attempting to combat that terrorist threat through democratic means?
The root of the problem lies in the fact that
However, and although it might seem rather curious, they do not share that very criterion when they talk about threats and risks at the regional level. The Latin American continent lacks multilateral forums in which to converse and define and implement concrete measures that involve military means and guarantee a shared security (domestic and foreign), whether it be against narcotraffickers or guerrilla groups.
It does not make sense to continue thinking that the national interests safeguard can be guaranteed with effective measures whose jurisdiction remains exclusively within the national territory of one state. Criminals and terrorists operate across borders and, in order to be effective, the governmental responses must also be multinational in nature, without the need to be taken under the wing of the
A COMMON PROBLEM
“The modernization of the Armed Forces is not only a question of material, but also one of doctrine and strategy” In the current case, Columbia will not have any possibility of success against the rebel groups if, when in pursuit, the rebels find refuge in sanctuaries located on the other side of the border, where they can rest and stock up on provisions. As such, the responsibility also falls on the neighboring countries. Nobody disputes that FARC was on Ecuadorian soil (which does not exempt Bogotá from having to ask for complete forgiveness), but the fact that Quito’s authorities, as they have admitted, lack the technological means to effectively control their borders, does not serve as a valid excuse either.
“In view of the appearance of crises, the responses are almost always bilateral, repeating traditional relations more than making the effort to search for more imaginative solutions” Let’s be sincere: this is a problem that affects nearly all of the country’s within (or outside of; let’s think about Old Europe) the region, especially the biggest ones that now find themselves immersed in costly programs designed to provide vigilance over their remote regions (Brazil and the Amazon, to give an example).
However, this still does not justify the fact that President Uribe’s government had not found a forum or more diplomatic way to present their irrefutable proof that FARC had been using foreign territory, despite recognizing Colombia’s special situation as the only Latin American country engaged in open war, and the enormous effort that that involves.
ALMOST ALWAYS BILATERAL RESPONSES
The modernization of the Armed Forces is not only a question of material, but also one of doctrine and strategy. Meetings between the Ministers of Defense are not sufficient anymore. From its very inception, the OSA has self-excluded itself from this duty, and the Inter-American Defense Board, which could have filled the resulting hole, has been relegated, perhaps by the presence of the
In view of the appearance of crises like the current one, this forces the responses to be almost always bilateral, repeating traditional relations more than making the effort to search for more imaginative solutions. For example,
FACING THE STRUCTURAL DEFICIENCIES
Regarding the current confrontation between Bogotá and
The OSA has given a short-term response to the crisis between
Whatever its creation might be like, the important thing is that advancements be made in its constitution and that there be assurance that it will not become a hollow and barely- operative organization. The security (domestic and foreign) of the Latin Americans will only be achieved with a common effort to face up to the problems at hand in a cooperative and coordinated manner.