Monday, December 01, 2008

Hillary Clinton and Latin America: status, meet quo

Although Hillary Clinton as secretary of state has been considered a lock for some time, I figured I wouldn't comment until it was official, perhaps hoping it would change. In short, with regard to Latin America policy I believe this is a poor choice. (Whether the reasoning holds for other parts of the world is open to debate).

My main concerns are twofold. First, in general she is hawkish. Second, for Latin America specifically she is staunchly status quo. In these ways she is similar to Joe Biden.

This combination does not suggest forging the kind of change we need for Latin America policy. Instead, it suggests continued baiting of Hugo Chávez, resistance to ending the Cuba embargo, continued push for militarized supply-side drug policy, and the "us vs. them" mentality that seems to permeate everything these days.

The main exceptions are that both she and Obama are in favor of immigration reform, and both are flexible on free trade rather than taking rigid blanket positions.

Overall, however, I don't see much change coming, though I do want to see who goes into the Latin America-specific posts. Every recent analysis of U.S.-Latin American relations emphasizes the current window of opportunity. At the risk of sounding too melodramatic, I think I am hearing the thump of it closing.

With any luck, I am wrong, or at least exaggerating.


mike a,  2:25 PM  

While those of us who are active in US-Latin America circles may not want to admit it, Obama has much bigger fish to fry than US/Latin America relations. It's just so far down the list of global and domestic hot buttons that it doesn't register as a concern among the majority of voters.

The resilience of the Clintons, however, is amazing. They just keep coming back into the limelight, obstacles be damned. I can't wait to read between the lines on the Bill deal to disclose information and submit his speeches to be edited by Obama staff. There's more to this story than meets the eye, as there always is when the Clintons are involved.

Greg Weeks 6:26 AM  

I've "admitted" the obvious many times--Latin America is very rarely deemed important. As a result, officials in lower posts can have an important impact.

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