Change and continuity in United States-Colombian relations, during the war against drugs, 1970-1998
This thesis addresses almost three decades of U.S.-Colombian relations and asks two main questions. Why did relations remain friendly for so long given the many problems associated with drugs, and the notion that drugs and drug trafficking constituted a security problem? And what changed in 1995 so as to alter the course of friendship? It argues that U.S. and Colombian preferences over illegal drug control policy have not always been at odds, and disagreements have not precluded cooperation and joint action on drug control matters over a significant period of time. Nor can power asymmetry, a constant feature in the relationship, account for change. A successful account of both friendship and antagonism can be given only by spelling out the ideational and normative components that have contributed to define the character of the relationship and to determine the attitudes and behaviour towards each other. These components refer to the understandings of the drug problem, ideas on what constitutes mutually acceptable political and economic behaviour and their underlying norms, and the images that relevant policy-makers have of each country. This thesis also underscores the need to take stock of the cumulative process by which Colombia and the United States embraced and expanded drug prohibition.