ALONG-STANDING CONFLICT. SOME 38,000 DEAD AND MORE THAN a million people displaced from their homes. Sound like Kosovo? Think again.
Colombia's the scene and the situation is getting worse. Peace talks are faltering, military actions are increasing, and the 34-year-old civil war threatens to spill over into Ecuador. Venezuela. Peru and Brazil. It's time for a solution.
Colombian President Andres Pastrana has correctly made peace his main priority. His strategy is to split the growing alliance between the guerrillas and the drug traffickers. He wants to negotiate a settlement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN), while continuing to wage war against the drug lords.
Pastrana's plan won't achieve peace because he is negotiating with the wrong group. For starters, he has no leverage with the narco rebels who control almost half the national territory. After almost four decades of fighting, the Colombian Army has failed to weed the 20,000 guerrillas out of the jungle. Now that the insurgents increasingly draw profits from drug trafficking, the prospect of defeating them is worse.
Even if he does strike a pact with the rebels, the president will not stop the violence until he ends the war on drugs. If he were to legalize the US$3-5 billion export industry in...