Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. Jonathan Benjamin-Alvarado


For over thirty years, the conflict in Colombia has wrecked havoc on the country's civil society, political order, military capabilities, and the stability of the entire region. Bom of drug cartels and exacerbated by police and military corruption, rebel guerrilla groups, and ineffective international policy, drug trafficking and the consequences thereof pose a critical threat to policy makers worldwide. Consequently, the Colombian and United States governments committed, in February 2000, to new legislation, entitled Plan Colombia, aimed at reducing narcotics cultivation, processing, and distribution by fifty percent by the year 2006. While the plan is ambitious, it is riddled with dangerous and ineffective military measures, which threaten not only the effectiveness of the legislation, but also the security of American troops. This research attempts to prove that, contrary to strategic and theoretical goals, Plan Colombia—and the international aid mandated therein—will only exacerbate the civil conflict in Colombia. In search of credible evidence that Plan Colombia will only heighten tensions in South America, I have adopted a research strategy based on causality and path dependency. Ariel Levite, Bruce Jentleson, and Larry Berman’s Foreign Military} Intervention (1992) provides several case studies of protracted foreign military intervention. From their research, I have extracted general criteria for future cases of protracted foreign military intervention. Next, I apply the tenets of Plan Colombia and the context of the Colombian conflict to these criteria and explain the manner in which the legislation parallels Levite, Jentleson, and Berman's case examples. After a brief discussion of the caveats in this application, I conclude that Plan Colombia is likely to lead the United States into a situation of protracted foreign military intervention.


A Thesis Presented to the Department of Political Science and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Science University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright 2000, Sarah Roper

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