The outlook in the Western Hemisphere is hopeful. A modern set of motivations and mechanisms has given a positive trajectory to foreign policies and security relations for most of the 1990s. A culture of democratization and free market economics has moved among a markedly diverse group of states and has moved them away from decades of political confrontation and mutual distrust toward security- and confidence-building and economic interdependence. Symbolizing the new momentum in regional affairs, regular presidential summits, defense ministerials, Organization of American States (OAS) general assemblies, and lower-level meetings have generated both political consensus and the energy to move forward. Latin American and Caribbean states have made headway toward twin goals of sustainable economic development linked with effective and enduring democratic governance. While no two countries are following the same path of economic and political reform, the recent growth is not accidental or transient, nor are the changes cyclical. The motivation for the transformations stems from far-reaching national and regional experiences and responds to the forces of the global environment. The way forward will require the United States to reengineer the structure of its traditional policy approach and adapt its mindset to get in sync with the changing hemispheric reality and move deeper into security relationships than surface-level associations that set forth declarations of principle rather than action items. To begin, a clear, actionable statement of U.S. foreign policy purposes in the hemisphere is needed. The most sensitive, immediate issue in the Americas today is U.S. engagement in Colombia in support of President Pastrana's Plan Colombia.
Strategic Challenges for the Bush Administration: Perspectives from the Institute for National Strategic Studies, p.53-64