The Battle for Peace
The Long Road to Ending a War with the World's Oldest Guerrilla Army
Juan Manuel Santos
Translated by Joe Broderick
This is the comprehensive account of the long and difficult road traveled to end the fifty-year armed conflict with the FARC, the oldest guerrilla army in the world; a long war that left more than eight million victims. The obstacles to peace were both large and dangerous. All previous attempts to negotiate with the FARC had failed, creating an environment where differences were irreconcilable and political will was scarce. The Battle for Peace is the story not only of the six years of negotiation and the peace process that transformed a country, its secret contacts, its international implications, and difficulties and achievements but also of the two previous decades in which Colombia oscillated between warlike confrontation and negotiated solution.
In The Battle for Peace Juan Manuel Santos shares the lessons he learned about war and peace and how to build a successful negotiation process in the context of a nation that had all but resigned itself to war and the complexities of twenty-first-century international law and diplomacy. While Santos is clear that there is no handbook for making peace, he offers conflict-tested guidance on the critical parameters, conditions, and principles as well as rich detail on the innovations that made it possible for his nation to find common ground and a just solution.
“The peace process that was the central policy of Juan Manuel Santos’s two terms as president of Colombia finally reached an accord that ended the fifty-years conflict with the FARC, Latin Americas oldest and largest guerrilla group. Making peace is never swift, simple, complete, or uncontroversial, and the necessary compromises were only reached in the face of many setbacks, fierce criticism, and opposition. The agreement was nonetheless a historic achievement, and it embodies a general recognition that the country’s future is not going to be decided by the violent politics of armed struggle. President Santos’s account of the negotiations—frank, detailed, and generous to those who assisted inside and outside Colombia—has important lessons for peacemakers everywhere.”
—Malcolm Deas, St Antony’s College, University of Oxford
“Santos was able to see—to have the imagination and the vision to see—that this was the moment when you could pivot to peace. This was someone who was completely sincere in his genuine desire to change the lives of the people and to bring peace where before conflict had been the norm for thousands and thousands of people suffering. This was a really tough thing to do. This was frankly tougher than Northern Ireland, tougher I think than any conflict I have been involved in, and I would put the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the same bracket. To have taken it this far is an extraordinary achievement. Id say to the people of Colombia: just remember the darkest days of this conflict and what that was like. Debate, by all means, the right way to go forward but don’t let this slip back. That would be a big mistake.”
“Making peace after a long and bloody conflict is not a work for the faint-hearted, and you can’t expect to be appreciated in the short run. You should do it if you believe it is the best way to give your kids and grandkids a better future. I think Santos wanted to give all Colombians different sorts of choices, and I think he was willing at the end to risk his standing in the short run to enhance Colombians’ standing and quality of life in the long term. Slowly but surely, a more peaceful and more normal life has returned, making it possible for people to develop the natural resources of the country.”
“With the finalizing of a peace agreement between Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the longest-running war in the Western Hemisphere is coming to an end. We have witnessed, once again, that a sustained commitment to diplomacy and reconciliation can overcome even the most entrenched conflicts. This accord is a tribute to the hard work and cooperation of countless Colombian leaders and citizens—across parties and administrations—who painstakingly laid the groundwork for this milestone. I especially want to commend President Juan Manuel Santos for his courageous leadership during four years of difficult negotiations. I think this is an achievement of historic proportions. It ultimately will be good for the region as well as the people of Colombia. It took a lot of courage and a lot of hard work by a lot of people. And we are very proud to have played a modest part in helping the dialogue go forward.”
“Former President Santos has written a compelling memoir about Colombia’s tortuous path from a country riven by insurgency, militias, and conflict to an overall peace agreement approved in November 2016. While the volume is a gripping story of Santos’s personal role, it is more than that: The Battle for Peace is an invaluable textbook for politicians, diplomats, and generals about how to end bitter internal conflicts. Among the lessons offered are the need for extraordinary patience, a step-by-step approach, continuing to fight while negotiating, establishing at the outset what is not negotiable, and, ultimately, providing the opposition space in the political arena. The overall strategy and tactics—both military and political—for ending an internal conflict spelled out in detail by President Santos are applicable in any number of places around the world. The book is a fascinating read but, more important, it is an invaluable handbook.”
—Robert M. Gates, US secretary of defense, 2007—2011See fewer reviews...