Blackhawks and Human Rights: The Impact and Consequences of Short-term Incentives in Militarizing “Plan Colombia”
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This paper asks: why do United States policymakers continue to support the militarization of the international drug war despite criticism from human rights advocates and a failure to meet its stated goals?” Drawing on the related theories of the “military-industrial complex” and congressional iron triangles, I tested the impact of the defense industry on legislative decisions concerning the militarization of Plan Colombia, a $1.3 billion aid package focused on eradication, interdiction, and enforcement to combat Colombia’s drug trade. Through a multivariate logit model, I found a positive, statistically significant relationship between defense industry campaign contributions and pro-defense voting patterns in the United States’ House of Representatives. I further argue that these short-term incentives have taken precedence over Plan Colombia’s stated goals and trump reports of human rights abuses perpetrated by paramilitaries in collusion with U.S.-backed Colombian security forces.