When President Obama reviewed US strategy in Afghanistan, the lessons of Iraq were key. But a better comparison might be Colombia, where parallels abound—and where the government has handled insurgents with a fair bit of success, writes Scott Wilson in the Washington Post. Both Afghanistan and Colombia have faced “a homegrown insurgency inflamed by a pesky neighbor, millions in drug profits and a weak central government.”
What can Obama learn from Colombia? For Wilson, a former Colombia correspondent, a US troop surge may be less helpful than increasing training for Colombian forces. Destroying the drug trade should take a backseat to boosting state institutions, such as schools and health clinics. Trying to quash insurgents’ border strongholds has little effect. And the last lesson “is a stark one: It will take time. The Colombian effort has taken nearly a decade and counting,” Wilson writes.