Airbrushing history

The assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Roberta Jacobson, said something astonishing last week. A reporter from Spain’s EFE wire service prefaced a question with, “Some critics have said that the U.S. financed or helped finance the armed conflict and therefore it should finance the peace as well.”

The Assistant Secretary responded, “Obviously, I disagree with the notion that we financed the war, or the problem.

The United States didn’t finance Colombia’s war? What an odd claim. Not only has U.S. military and police assistance totaled US$6.3 billion since 2000, but a 20-minute search through the archives reveals the following quotes from top U.S. officials over the past ten years.

"In our discussions today, I affirmed that the United States stands in solidarity with Colombia and its campaign against [the narcoterrorist group FARC, for Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarios de Colombia], and that we will continue to provide training, equipment and assistance that Colombia has requested in order to defeat this common enemy." - Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, April 2012

"Over the next two years, support for the Colombian armed forces’ campaign to defeat the FARC, as well as for Colombian interagency efforts to bring governance and economic opportunity to areas recaptured from the FARC is essential." - U.S. Southern Command Commander Adm. James Stavridis, April 2009

"America will continue to stand with the people of Colombia. I will ask the Congress to sustain our commitment to follow-on programs for Plan Colombia so Colombia can build on its progress and win its war against the narco-terrorists." - President George W. Bush, August 2005

"We are beating the enemy and we’ve just got to keep on keeping on—a phrase from my lost youth." - [U.S. Ambassador to Colombia William Wood](, June 2005)

"[O]ur strategy is to assist the Colombian Government with the wherewithal to confront the terrorist and narcotics trafficking groups throughout Colombian national territory. The fight against terrorism is now an important element of our policy in Colombia." - U.S. Ambassador to Colombia Anne Patterson, October 2002

This history is too long and well-documented to be airbrushed. The United States helped pay for the war, and if peace ever comes, the United States should help pay for it as well.

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