Edward “Ted” Lynch is an MPA/MAIR student in the Maxwell School’s Public Administration and International Affairs Department.
This past fall I interned at the Center for International Policy (CIP). In the center’s Security Assistance Monitor (SAM) program, I focused on the region of Latin America, researching and writing about U.S. security assistance and military cooperation. Substantively, interning at a mid-sized think tank, within a collaboration oriented program afforded me opportunities to direct work towards my own interests as well as the more salient political developments which took place in the last half of 2015.
Most U.S. foreign policy junkies will remember 2015 as the year of the Iran Nuclear deal, the Paris bombings and the continued emergence of ISIL. By focusing on Latin America I was privy to more subtle developments in regional foreign policy.
We saw the downfall of Guatemala’s president through a corruption scandal, the recently concluded hunt for El Chapo Guzman in Mexico and closely contested elections in Argentina. The U.S. government took tougher measures with their partners in the region, withholding and reprogramming Merida Initiative security assistance to Mexico. The U.S. Department of the Treasury took the lead on tackling organized crime in Honduras, aggressively extraditing business magnates and political heavyweights in that country.
With relation to Colombia however, the U.S. backed down from longstanding extradition requests in an effort to foster peace negotiations between the FARC guerillas and the Colombian government which have been in protracted conflict for around 60 years. The U.S. has spent billions of dollars in Latin America to counter the illicit drug market, and one of my projects was to put this budget into context, comparing the amount of money transferred to the different regions of Latin America (the Andes, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean) with the global counternarcotics strategy.
Outside of my internship, I took advantage of Syracuse University’s course offerings at CSIS to expand my knowledge of geographical regions outside of my specialty with the aim of becoming a well rounded practitioner. The DC campus opens up Maxwell students to a wealth of practitioner expertise, and I was lucky enough to learn about Africa from a development practitioner and South Asia from a former Pakistani diplomat. The Maxwell staff at CSIS, Ryan Williams and Samantha Clemencé, were instrumental in helping me process my internship experience and opening the Maxwell Alumni network to me, enabling me to find work and stay in DC for my final semester.