Tuesday, June 15, 2010

More on why Bush was unpopular in Latin America

At the Weekly Standard, Jaime Daremblum from the Hudson Institute provides a conservative critique of Obama's Latin America policy.  There are two main parts.  First, the definition of a "coherent" strategy is one that pushes hard for free trade:

Unfortunately, the Obama administration still lacks a coherent strategy for the region. Each of the four U.S. presidents who immediately preceded Obama launched at least one major initiative in the Western Hemisphere. Under George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush, trade liberalization became the lodestar of U.S. policy, resulting in NAFTA, an expansion of the Caribbean Basin Initiative trade programs, CAFTA, and several bilateral free-trade pacts, including agreements with Chile, Peru, Colombia, and Panama. 

There are, apparently, no other possible coherent policies.

Second, Obama needs to hate Hugo Chávez, and he currently does not hate him sufficiently.  Daremblum offers exactly zero specific ways in which Obama should change his current policies, but in general he should "be standing up" and "confront."  What those would entail is left to our imaginations.  Daremblum basically argues that Chávez is destabilizing Venezuela, so we need to destabilize the country further in order to stabilize it.

I think it is fair to sum it up as "keep doing what George W. Bush was doing and expect different results."  In other words, yet again we get Einstein's definition of insanity.


pc 12:40 PM  

I wasn't living in Latin America for most of the Bush presidency, but it seems like people often gloss over Iraq as the biggest reason no one liked him here. The Iraq war specifically precipitated serious problems with allies like Chile and Mexico, and the consequent general idea that he was a dangerous warmonger made everyone dislike him, both on the left and the right. His trade policies were bound to rub a significant portion of LA wrong, as was the handling of the Chavez coup, but the one thing that everyone disliked and that everyone remembered was Iraq.

Greg Weeks 5:18 PM  

I would argue that Iraq was seen as an extreme example of an inflexible, black and white ideology that majority of Latin American did not share.

Boli-Nica 6:07 PM  

It is Bushian arrogance in invading Iraq and his posturing on major World issues that made many Latin Americans hate him.
The irony is that it had little to do with US policy towards Latin America during the Bush years. For the most part after 2003 it was an indifferent, hands-off approach. There was little of an actual direct cause and effect with anti-US. It was more of a recycling of traditional anti-yanqui attitudes.

In effect, Bush was simply a convenient bogey-man to rail against, with a Chavez or Morales knowing they could get away with it, without serious consequences. Evo pretty much had to do something drastic like kick out the DEA and have mobs almost burn the embassy to get the ATDPEA prefernces overturned, and Chavez' hateroade barely got him a rebuke or two.

Anonymous,  3:33 PM  

A quick check on Latinobarometro shows Bush wasn't so unpopular as many think.

Greg Weeks 5:15 PM  

Wrong. Look at the 2008 report, page 110, which has figures for 2005-2008 and 2008 alone. Bush was routinely listed as one of the most unpopular presidents in the hemisphere. In 2008, only Daniel Ortega got less love.

Anonymous,  7:00 PM  

A little perspective and math is useful here. In a scale from 0 to 10 Bush gets 4.2, basically the same as several other presidents. And Lula, the highest rated, only gets 5.9.

More than half the presidents score 5 or lower. That's not much of a difference.

In the US if a politician had a 42% approval rate and over half of all politicians had 50% or less, it would make no sense to talk of big differences.

Bush was not popular but neither was he as wildly unpopular in Latin America as the left would want to believe.

Anonymous,  7:03 PM  

In fact, since at the time his job approval in the US was in the 20s and 30s Bush may have been more popular in Latin America than in the US!

I know, Latin American leftists won't be able to deal with that concept. Or with the idea that Bush was as popular as Chavez in the region.

Greg Weeks 7:14 PM  

Being very unpopular is not so badly terribly popular! As Vakov Smirnoff would say, what a country!

Anonymous,  7:17 PM  

The point is that this leftwing idea that Bush was widely unpopular in the region is simply not supported by the facts.

And he was as popular as leftwing heroes such as Correa, Ortega, and Chavez.

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