Thursday, September 11, 2014

Venezuela Likely to Take Security Council Seat

It's quite possible that Venezuela will assume a two-year rotating seat on the UN Security Council. In 2006 Hugo Chávez tried as hard as he could to get it, but the U.S. helped push Guatemala, then accept Panama as a compromise (I blogged a lot about that circus as it happened). I disagree with this logic about why Venezuela is not being challenged this time around:

The action reflects a decade-long shift in the region away from the United States. Conservative leaders from Peru to El Salvador that in 2006 had no fear of picking a fight with Chavez have since been voted out of office. Even nations that differ with Venezuela’s policies, such as Chile and Colombia, want to avoid a confrontation that harkens back to the polarized politics of the Cold War, when meddling by Washington was frequent.

This is the pat answer of the day--Latin America is moving away from the U.S. That logic ignores the following:

1. After 2006, Latin American countries agreed to take turns. It is now Venezuela's turn. If that was the agreement, then that was the agreement.

Following that display of disunity, regional governments agreed in private to alternate representation in a certain order. Under those procedures, it’s now Venezuela’s turn.

2. The current president of the U.S. is Obama, not Bush. Obama is far less confrontational and in this case must go up against the fact that a regional agreement way back then put Venezuela in this position now.

3. There is no evidence that either Chile or Colombia base their foreign policy decisions on trying not to harken back to the Cold War.

BTW, I happened to see on Twitter that Boz was also writing a post, with similar logic. He makes an additional point worth considering:

Another important note left out of the AP report: Venezuela will be replacing Argentina. While Venezuela's rhetoric will probably be sharper, their voting won't be that far off from the seat's current occupant. As the shift from Argentina to Venezuela isn't shifting the balance of voting on the UNSC much, it shouldn't worry the US.

So this will not be some sudden shift.

One last thought: at least in this case Nicolás Maduro is showing more acumen than his mentor by remaining quiet and avoiding the heated public rhetoric. That strategy would have backfired.


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