War without Borders: The Colombia-Ecuador Crisis of 2008

  • December 01, 2008
  • Dr Gabriel Marcella

Unprotected borders are a serious threat to the security of a number of states around the globe. Indeed, the combination of weak states, ungoverned space, terrorism, and international criminal networks make a mockery of the Westphalian system of international order. Latin American countries are experiencing all of these maladies in varying degrees. The Andean region is under assault by a different kind of war that defies borders. In this context, Dr. Gabriel Marcella analyzes the lessons to be learned from the Colombian attack against the clandestine camp of the the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, which was located at an isolated area within Ecuador on March 1, 2008. This single incident and its aftermath had profound reverberations throughout the Hemisphere. The events leading to the attack illuminate the vulnerabilities of states, societies, and the international community to the actions of substate groups conducting criminal activities. Accordingly, the hemispheric community of nations needs to develop better ways to anticipate and resolve conflicts. The United States plays a critical role in the emerging security environment of the Andean region. Yet a superpower is often unaware of the immense influence it has with respect to small countries like Ecuador, which is trying to extricate itself from becoming a failed state. The author recommends that the United States manage its complex agenda with sensitivity and balance its support for Colombia with equally creative support for Ecuador.