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Colombia Peace



he Colombian government and

the Revolutionary Armed Forces

of Colombia (known as FARC) final-

ized a

peace agreement on Aug. 25


they hope will bring an end to a bloody

52-year war.

The agreement—which must still

be approved by Colombian voters on

Oct. 2—outlines five main objectives:

(1) Ending political violence; (2) Justice

for the victims of the conflict; (3) Rural

development and government investment

in infrastructure; (4) Recognition of FARC

as a political party and a guarantee of five

seats in the Colombian Senate; and (5)

Ending the drug trade.

“This is a transformational moment for

our hemisphere,” said Bernard Aronson,

the U.S. envoy to the peace talks. “It is a

final repudiation of political violence as

a means of changing governments.” Per-

haps the peace deal’s biggest selling point

to ordinary Colombians is the possibility

that it will kick the economy into over-

drive, by opening conflict zones to new

investment and infrastructure projects.

The United States’

“Plan Colombia”

has been a cornerstone of the U.S.-

Colombia relationship and is widely cred-

ited with helping to mitigate the threat

from FARC guerillas.

Reducing the illegal coca crop—the

backbone of FARC funding—is also

of great concern to the United States,

which is the main consumer of the drug.

Although coca production has gone up

in the last few years, U.S. Ambassador to

Colombia Kevin Whitaker is confident

that with FARC engaged on a diplomatic

level, the group will be more open to get-

ting out of the narcotics trade.

A rejection by voters on Oct. 2 would

be a harsh blow to Colombian President

Juan Manuel Santos, as well as to the U.S.

diplomats who have worked with Colom-

bian authorities for many years to achieve

this agreement.

To Address Extremism,

Start with Development


s the United States works to defeat

terrorist groups like the so-called

Islamic State, battlefield victories are

not enough, say State Department

Deputy Coordinator for Counterterrorism

Michael Ortiz and USAID Coordinator

for Countering Violent Extremism Russell

Porter in a July 20 Department of State “DipNote” blog post. The underlying

factors that allow these groups to recruit

and mobilize people to commit acts of

violence in furtherance of ideologies of

hate must also be addressed.

In May, the U.S. Agency for Interna-

tional Development and the State Depart-

ment released the first-ever Joint Strategy on Countering Violent Extremism (called

CVE) to prevent extremism from taking

hold by using the tools of development

and diplomacy.

The links between violent extremism

and underdevelopment are mutually

reinforcing; and USAID and the State

Department recognize that the need

has never been greater to address these


Extremists’ actions overwhelm health

systems, feed insecurity and instabil-

ity, displace people from their homes

and drive migration. And they impede

economic growth by discouraging invest-

ment—not only from international com-

panies, but also from local entrepreneurs.

Research shows that prevention efforts

are most effective when led by local com-

munities themselves—with young people,

women, local governments, teachers and

civil society directing and owning the


Development programs that reduce

the allure of violent extremist groups have

immeasurable payoffs, both in terms of

reaching development goals—meaning-

ful objectives in their own right—and in

terms of advancing U.S. foreign policy


Visa Delays Endanger



our years after working with the U.S.

military as a translator in Afghanistan,

Zar Mohammad Stanikzai has become a

prisoner in his own home, reports Emma-

rie Huetteman in The New York Times on Aug. 9.

Mr. Stanikzai is awaiting a determina-

tion by Congress on a special visa as part

of a program to translators and interpret-

ers who assisted the military during the

wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He first

applied for the program in 2013, after

he came under fire in his car and a local

imamwarned his father that Mr. Stanikzai

could be killed for working for Americans.

For more than eight years, the State

Department has managed a visa program

From top: Local leaders from around the

world launch Strong Cities Network in

September 2015. Children in Chad react

to participatory theater performance,

part of a USAID program to counter

extremism. World leaders at the

Countering Violent Extremism Summit

at the White House in February 2015.