Colombia’s “Damascus Doctrine”: A Plan for Imperialist War in Our Continent

María Fernanda Barreto

A few months ago, comrade Luis Britto García warned about the possible deployment of half a million Colombian soldiers after the peace agreement with the FARC. “After the signing of the Peace Accords, this oversized militia has no function, unless it assumes that it will free its own territory from the foreign bases that occupy it,” which obviously will not happen.

Demobilization of the FARC is not the end of the war in Colombia

It is well known that, unfortunately, the demobilization of the FARC is not the end of the war in Colombia. First, because the causes that generated the conflict persist and without justice there is no peace; second, because there are still dialogues barely starting with the second guerrilla force (ELN); third, because there are still active paramilitary groups, and fourth, because the Colombian state continues to prosecute all forms of protest so that the Colombian security forces and their paramilitaries can continue to engage in attacking the people to contain their social justice struggles.

However, the rhetorical question posed to us by the Venezuelan revolutionary makes sense, since it is to be expected that this demobilization will de-escalate the daily military confrontation and therefore it is necessary to ask what the Colombian military force proposes to do to occupy its human and technological resources and its ample experience of combat once it loses what it considers its main enemy. The answer is a real threat to the peace of Colombia and the region: the Damascus Doctrine.

“This is the army of the future”

With this plan, the Colombian National Army officially launches its new military doctrine for the “post-agreement” phase. This marks a new period of Colombian history in which, for the Colombian army, the peace agreement is not the product of a political negotiation between the government, the FARC-EP and much less the people, but the result of a military victory over the insurgency.

The new military doctrine publicly announced by President Juan Manuel Santos in August of 2016, Doctrina Damasco, was advanced before the complete demobilization of the FARC, before the Colombian government signed any agreement with the ELN.

They state that this striking name comes from the biblical passage in which God opens the eyes of St. Paul to stop persecution of Christians, but this joint creation first brought together the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the armies the United States, Chile and Colombia in 2011, when foreign intervention in the Syrian conflict began. Conjunctions such as these are always disturbing.

It is also of great concern to anyone with a historical memory that the Chilean army and the Colombian army conspire in this project – two highly pro-imperialist and repressive armies, together with NATO, under the eye of the United States of America. What can they possibly contribute of benefit to humanity in general, to the region in particular and to Colombia’s own peace?

SAP: Permanent Threat System

In order not to deactivate their repressive customs, the Colombian military now speak of SAP as the enemy that puts stability at risk, in “post agreement” times. A persistent threat is defined as “a monster called SAP (Permanent Threat System): FARC dissidents, the ELN if it does not join the process,” and no doubt, social justice movements.

Is Venezuela in the sights?

In practice, the few months since the signing of the Havana accords have been characterized by increased criminalization of protest in Colombia, persecution of popular leaders, human rights defenders, union leaders, among others, that in many cases has ended with their assassination.

“In the post-agreement we are not going to stop, we are not going to fall asleep”.

The Colombian military makes clear, in all its public documents on this doctrine, that it does not believe in so-called peace agreements. He does not see them as the product of a political negotiation in which he recognized the belligerence of a guerrilla organization of more than 60 years and of some social movements that managed to be part of it. For the Colombian army the signing of the agreements was nothing more than the product of their military victory over the FARC-EP. Although this contradicts the arguments that made the devalued Nobel Peace Prize to the current president of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos.

Evolve to be aligned with NATO

After an evaluation of its previous doctrine, the Colombian army, according to its representatives, concluded that one of its problems was not to have evolved alongside the armies aligned with the NATO doctrine. Therefore it was proposed to update itself with these international standards from the year 2012, to acquire what it defines as a “great experience of more than 60 years of irregular war” to achieve a multinational operation.

This update implies that it will unify with NATO’s terms and symbols, and increase the operational capacity with teams in neighboring countries. As expressed in promotional videos, this new doctrine proposes four types of operations: offensive, defensive, stability and support to civilian authority to integrate “their actions with partners of unified, joint, interagency and multinational action,” to teach the Colombian military interoperability “for the purpose of which the military conducts unified military operations (OTU) within the country and at a regional and global level.”

Another alert that ignites is the reference in these documents to the possible action of the Daesh in Latin America. The tricky question is whether it is a fear tactic, an actual announcement, a threat or an early confession.

An army at whose service

With the usual discourse of those who advocate this new plan, they intend to disarm critical analysis using the traditional disguise of neutrality, objectivity and so much manipulated science.

“This doctrine is not political, nothing of North vs. South, East vs. West or Communism vs. Capitalism, it is only military.”

As early as 1982 the Colombian army has a presence on the Sinai peninsula as part of a “peace” army. That same notion of “peace” that has given the Nobel Prize to Obama and Santos, now conceives the “army of the future.” The largest in Latin American history, expert in asymmetric warfare, preparing for missions outside Colombia, in the Americas or other latitudes, in interagency and multinational actions. The international aspirations of the Damascus Doctrine place the Colombian army on the verge of becoming a mercenary army.

The new military doctrine of the Colombian National Army has set itself a time limit of four years for the formation of all its troops, fulfilled in the year 2020. This brings us back to the initial question of Britto García, but now with new arguments: What will happen when, after that period of time, the Colombian government considers that all its force has adapted to its new doctrine and is ready to act? Is Venezuela in the sights?