Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Iran and Russia in Latin America

Robert Gates testified before the Senate's armed services committee. I can't find a full text, but the upshot is that he reaffirms the fact that Russia should not be viewed as a threat to the region, but Iran should. He actually said he would've suggested the Russian warship stop in Miami, but the timing was bad because of the Georgia conflict.

With regard to Iran, he used words like "subversive," "meddling," and "interfere." I am skeptical, for a variety of reasons, and using words like this makes me leery because they can constitute the rhetorical prelude to some sort of ill-conceived action.*

As I've written before, even the mainstream media has noted that Iranians themselves are not so happy about their government's presence in Latin America. In addition, even Time magazine noted that there is almost no ideological or other connection between Iran and Latin American countries. Finally, as oil prices have dropped, Iran cannot afford to do much in Latin America, which makes it more difficult to rise to the level of "subversive."

I don't trust the Iranian government at all, but given the U.S. history of overstating threats and overreaction, I need concrete evidence, certainly much more than Gates' statement about "They're opening a lot of offices and a lot of fronts behind which they interfere in what is going on in some of these countries." I need a lot more than that.

* I also know that readers may say that Obama is different, and that I remain locked in a Bush mindset. I hope so, but I guess I will need to see what Obama does before accepting that.

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