Your browser (Internet Explorer 7 or lower) is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites. Learn how to update your browser.

X

Stop the MADness — Arms Control and Disarmament

The end of World War II ushered in an era of intense arms competition between the Soviet Union and the United States. Both sides produced nuclear armaments and other weapons of mass destruction at increasing rates as the bipolar world order evolved, finally achieving a state known as “mutually assured destruction” or MAD. President Eisenhower initiated efforts to control the proliferation of arsenals, which ultimately led to the Arms Control and Disarmament Act, enacted September 26, 1961.

This legislation, passed by 87th Congress and signed by President John F. Kennedy, established the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA).  ACDA was designed to conduct, coordinate, and support research of the formulation for the arms control and disarmament policy, manage and prepare U.S. participation in international negotiations for arms control and disarmament and coordinate information to the public on arms control policy. Read more

De-Baathification and Dismantling the Iraqi Army

The 2003 American invasion of Iraq, which came not long after the invasion of Afghanistan, proved to be highly controversial, not only for the rationale behind the invasion (Saddam Hussein and his putative support of 9/11 and acquisition of weapons of mass destruction) but for how the war itself and the governing of the country were conducted. On May 11, 2003, President George W. Bush appointed L. Paul “Jerry” Bremer as the Presidential Envoy to Iraq and then the top civilian administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA). Shortly thereafter, two of the CPA’s most notable decrees entered into force, on May 16, 2003 and May 23, respectively:  CPA Order Number 1 , which banned the Ba’ath party in all forms, a process otherwise known as de-Baathification; and CPA Order Number 2, which dismantled the Iraqi army. Read more

Billion-Dollar “Plan Colombia” to End Decades of Civil War

Published January 2016

A guerrilla organization known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia—Ejército del Pueblo, FARC–EP and FARC) has been at war with the Colombian government since 1964, marking it as the hemisphere’s longest-running armed conflict. The FARC has claimed to be a Marxist-Leninist army representing the rural poor against Colombia’s wealthy, opposing imperialism and the privatization of natural resources. The FARC funded its campaign through the drug trade, kidnapping, illegal mining, and extortion.

Experts believe that the FARC continues to be active in 25 of Colombia’s 32 provinces, with around 8,000 fighters, down from 16,000 in 2001. The conflict between the rebels and the government has claimed more than 220,000 lives and displaced almost five million people over 50 years. In 2016, the UN Security Council approved a political mission to monitor implementation of a peace deal between the Colombian government and the rebel Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), following a joint request by the parties.

Both sides sought negotiations to create an environment where violence is no longer the means of securing social change. The two sides began formal peace talks in Cuba in 2012 and have reached an agreement on four key topics in preparation for signing a final peace document. Read more

Pain at the Pumps: The 1973 Oil Embargo and Its Effect on U.S. Foreign Policy

It may be a challenge for those who did not experience it to imagine a time when the supply of gas was so restricted it had to be rationed, leading to massive lines at gas stations across the country. Yet this was the situation the United States found itself in during the autumn of 1973, when an oil crisis was in full swing. The shortage was related to political developments in the Middle East resulting from the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, or as some refer to it, the Yom Kippur War.

On October 6, 1973, Egypt and Syria attacked Israel’s forces in the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights. Wanting to avoid both an Arab defeat and military intervention, the Soviets began to resupply Egypt and Syria with weapons. By October 9, following a failed Israeli Defense Forces counter-attack against Egypt’s forces, the Israelis requested that America do the same for them. Not wanting to see Israel defeated, President Nixon agreed, and American planes carrying weapons began arriving in Israel on October 14.  Read more

Leveling the Playing Field in the Salvadoran Civil War

The Salvadoran Civil War, lasting from 1979-1992, pitted the military-led government of El Salvador against a coalition of five left-wing guerrilla groups known collectively as the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN).  Combat was vicious and fought by both the government and guerrilla forces without regard for human rights. More than 75,000 Salvadorans lost their lives and an unknown number of people “disappeared” during the conflict.

At first, the United States supported the right-wing military regime, which — though openly committing war crimes, was seen as a bulwark against communism — before adopting a more nonpartisan approach. Secretary of State Shultz asked Thomas Pickering to take over as Ambassador to El Salvador in 1983 when the conflict was in full swing.  Not long after taking the assignment, Pickering was subject to assassination threats from right-wing Salvadoran politicians and later targeted by North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms, who called for Pickering to be removed as ambassador on the grounds of having influenced the outcome of the troubled country’s elections. (Photo: Giovanni Palazzo)

Read more

North Korea Blows up South Korean Airliner

Someone once described the dissolution of the USSR as a typical Soviet divorce — you’re no longer married but you’re still forced to live in the same apartment. So it is with North and South Korea, which have had more than their share of animosity the past half century, which has, not surprisingly, affected the U.S. in one way or the other.  North Korea has tried to assassinate the South Korean President and when that failed, it doubled down and seized the USS Pueblo.  A few years later, North Korean soldiers hacked two United States Army officers in the DMZ to death. And there’s the more recent missile-rattling by current Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un. Read more

Managing the End of the Marcos Regime

Intent on actively opposing the rule of Philippines president Ferdinand Marcos, Senator Benigno Aquino returned from exile in the U.S. in August 1983, only to be assassinated upon his arrival in Manila. Public outrage in response to this and to the regime’s corruption led to calls for Marcos’ removal. Corazon Aquino, the widow of Benigno, became a leader of the People Power Revolution and was convinced to run against Marcos in the election of February 1986.

Once election results were released, Marcos claimed victory despite accusations of vote tampering and fraud. At Corazon Aquino’s urging, protestors took to the streets to demand Marcos’ removal. The protestors blocked government troops from dispersing the crowds in the capital and the forces retreated, peacefully ending the three-day revolution. On February 25, 1986, Corazon Aquino was inaugurated as president, a victory officially recognized by the U.S. That same day Marcos fled the country for permanent asylum in Hawaii, ending twenty years of autocratic rule. Read more

A Peace That Couldn’t Last – Negotiating the Paris Accords on Vietnam

Signed on January 27, 1973, the Paris Peace Accords were intended to finally end the Vietnam War, which had cost the lives of thousands of American soldiers, not to mention the millions of Vietnamese civilians who were killed, injured, or displaced. Initially, the Accords were negotiated in secret by National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho, the lead North Vietnamese negotiator. These secret negotiations took place over the course of five years in Paris, from 1968 to 1973, but it was only in the early 70’s that any real progress was made.

The secrecy of the negotiations, along with slow technology and the time differences between Washington, D.C., Paris, Hanoi, and Saigon, ensured that the negotiating process was time-consuming and tedious. In spite of these challenges, the two sides were, after many deadlocks and near agreements, able to come to a compromise in January 1973. For their efforts, Kissinger and Le Duc Tho were awarded the Noble Peace Prize in 1973, although Le Duc Tho refused to accept the award since he believed the U.S. and South Vietnamese were in violation of the Accords. Read more