"The countries of the Western Hemisphere are more integrated than ever, with both each other and countries elsewhere, but critical aspects of their relationships remain hampered by outdated patterns and stereotypes. As the United States has focused on terrorism in the Middle East and Asia, its neighbors are developing more assertive roles on the world stage. While traditional national security concerns have diminished, new issues are coming to the fore. Criminal gangs operating in urban areas throughout the hemisphere threaten security and engage in transnational criminal activities across borders. This situation seriously affects the quality of life of millions. Worse, it challenges basic aspects of sovereignty by eroding governmental control. [...]. Intensified security dialogues within Central and South America are taking place bilaterally and subregionally. The Organization of American States has facilitated new security frameworks to supplement traditional dispute settlement and confidence-building measures. Region-wide treaties have been negotiated to fight illegal narcotics trafficking, contraband in small arms and munitions, and terrorism. Unfortunately, implementation has lagged considerably. The United States can contribute to the renewal of trans-American security cooperation by supporting more robust implementation of inter-American laws that U.S. representatives have already signed; by facilitating initiatives to help build civilian institutions that are critical to stability; by helping to develop professional civilian and military skills and key institutional relationships, including intelligence-sharing; and by improving policy dialogues and continuing interministerial consultations needed to bridge different interests and perspectives."
Strategic Forum (September 2007), no.228
National Defense University, Institute for National Strategic Studies: http://www.ndu.edu/inss