A note on US counter-insurgency tactics and state terror in Colombia

While the Colombian state was repressive prior to US counter-insurgency (CI) aid and training, the qualitative character of US intervention in Colombia served further to legitimate, support, and entrench the strategy of state terrorism.  US-sponsored CI was thus directly responsible for the ideological legitimation of widespread state terror directed specifically at civil society in the name of anti-communism.  This in turn served to raise the associated costs of dissent and, as I go on to show, was designed to pacify or destroy restive sections of society while insulating national economic and political structures from popular reforms.  Within the CI discourse, US policy was thus justified as a necessary response to the bipolar conflict: indigenous insurgencies were portrayed as manifestations of externally sponsored subversion, and guerrilla forces as Soviet proxies.  However, within the CI discourse, subversion was defined so broadly that unarmed progressive forces were linked to subversion through the equation of their social identities with communism.  As we shall see, membership of trades unions, political lobbying, and even criticism of the government were considered signs of ‘communist subversion’. (p 59)

This is from Doug Stokes’ America’s Other War: Terrorizing Colombia (2005).  Sounds polemical and biased, I know, but it is turning out to be an extremely well-written, well-sourced, and sober appraisal of US foreign policy in Colombia, historically and presently, with lots of interesting insights on the nature of imperialism in Latin America in general.  The excerpt above is right before a key section of the book where Stokes looks at the actual strategies and tactics that US counter-insurgency manuals were advocating to be used in Latin America.


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One thought on “A note on US counter-insurgency tactics and state terror in Colombia

  1. […] This is taken from William Aviles’ book Global Capitalism, Democracy, and Civil-Military Relations in Colombia (2006).  Its full of numbers and focuses largely on the political economy of Colombia as it relates to state violence and paramilitarism, and as such has lots of nice numbers about the economy, foreign direct investment, etc.  Its a very good follow-up read to America’s Other War: Terrorizing Colombia (2005) which I quoted a few weeks ago. […]


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