By Shawn Snow for Foreign Policy. On Feb. 4, President Barack Obama will host Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos at the White House to discuss a peace deal that will end the decades-long insurgency between the central government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The meeting will commemorate Plan Colombia, a U.S. diplomatic and military initiative conceived under the Clinton administration. Since 2000, Plan Columbia has brought nearly $10 billion in assistance to Colombia’s government and security forces.
The recent spate of violence tearing across Afghanistan, record civilian casualties, and a fledgling security force struggling to maintain the status quo with the Taliban would seem like an unlikely candidate for comparison with Colombia. Aside from the two countries’ geographic and cultural differences, Colombia is experiencing renewed economic growth and its largest reduction in violence in the last three decades. However, just a decade ago, Colombia had the highest murder rate in the world. It also suffered from a series of targeted bombings and killings, and witnessed nearly 3000 kidnappings in 2000.