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Cozying up to Colombia

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Colombian  Foreign Minister Jaime Bermudez speak Tuesday in Washington.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Colombian Foreign Minister Jaime Bermudez speak Tuesday in Washington.
Associated Press

If you doubt politics makes strange bedfellows, all you need to do is peek beneath the sheets at the United States and Colombia.

Just few short years ago, Americans looked at Colombia as the headwaters of evil. That was the country killing American youths with drugs. It was home to ugly cartels and Communist sympathizers.

Now, the two countries are bosom buddies. In fact, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has been spending a lot of time trying to reassure other Latin American nations that a pending agreement that allows American forces greater access to Colombian military facilities is not a ploy to take over the continent. It's just an agreement between friends.

To quote an old sportswriter, Colombia and the United States today are as close as twin sisters.

So it is in the brave new world of diplomacy.

And so it should be.

The era of feuds that last for centuries is coming to a close. Today, national interest trumps all grudges.

We applaud Secretary Clinton and the U.S. State Department for seeing an opportunity to link hands with Colombia and taking advantage of it.

The fear of nearby nations — Venezuela, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador — is that the United States will use Colombia as a launching pad for mischief, that the old days of military adventurism are coming back. But these days the United States has bigger fish to fry. Yes, the "colossus to the north" has a history of meddling in Latin America. But militarily, much of that was against the backdrop of the Cold War, when the United States was afraid the Soviet Union would use leftist regimes in Latin America to gain a foothold on the American continent and aim missiles at the United States. That threat is gone.

Still, the communistic turn that many South American countries have taken is a cause for concern. And having a strong U.S. military presence in Colombia may be enough to deter the adventurism and meddling of some of the nearby rogue regimes. The truth is, they are the ones on a mission.

The American military presence in Colombia is for defense, not for attack. The last thing the United States needs is a flurry of guerrilla wars on a third front.

We urge diplomats to establish strong relations with Colombia and all other nations who see the United States as a partner, not as a predator.