Adam Isacson has worked on defense, security, and peacebuilding in Latin America since 1994. He now directs the Defense Oversight program at the Washington Office on Latin America, which monitors U.S. cooperation with Latin America’s security forces, among other security trends. Isacson accompanies WOLA’s Colombia program on peace and security issues. This country, which Isacson has visited about 80 times, has been a central focus for his Defense Oversight work, as Colombia has long been the primary recipient of U.S. security assistance in the Western Hemisphere. Since 2011, Isacson has also focused on border security. He has visited the U.S.-Mexico border about 30 times, and has also completed field research along nearly the entire border between Mexico and Guatemala. Before coming to WOLA in 2010, Isacson worked on Latin America demilitarization at the Center for International Policy (CIP). There, he joined with Latin America Working Group and WOLA in creating a longstanding project, now called Security Assistance Monitor, that oversees U.S. military assistance to the region. A prolific writer and coder, Isacson has produced over 250 publications, articles, book chapters, and policy memos over the course of his career. He has created several websites, from blogs to standalone web apps. He hosts WOLA’s podcast, Latin America Today. He speaks to about 20 audiences per year, from universities to grassroots gatherings to government agencies. He has testified eight times before the U.S. Congress.
U.S. military aid; overseas drug policy; great-power competition in the Americas; civil-military relations and threats to democracy in Latin America; implementation of the peace accord, and new peace processes, in Colombia; human rights and organizational culture at U.S. border agencies; migration trends at the U.S.-Mexico border.
M.A. in International Relations, Yale University, 1994
Since 2021 Isacson has published columns in the New York Times, War on the Rocks, Responsible Statecraft, Razón Pública, and El Espectador. His most recently published pieces of academic writing were a chapter in Militares y Gobernabilidad (PDF), an October 2021 book published by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, and “Estados Unidos y su influencia en el nuevo militarismo latinoamericano,” published by the Fundación Carolina (English: The United States' Influence on Latin America's New Militarism). In addition to a series of weekly updates about the U.S.-Mexico border, Isacson’s most significant recent work for WOLA was A Long Way to Go: Implementing Colombia’s peace accord after five years (November 2021) and an April 2022 website and database, Border Oversight: Monitoring Conduct and Accountability in U.S. Border Law Enforcement.
Latin America; defense and security; border security and migration; U.S. security assistance; conflict resolution; human rights; civil-military relations