Friday, October 17, 2014

U.S. Influence & Latin American Democracy

The New York Times has an editorial arguing that Latin America would enhance democracy by resisting efforts to take limits off of the number of terms a president can serve. Fine. But then we get this:

This regional dynamic has been dismal for Washington’s influence in the region. In Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, the new generation of caudillos have staked out anti-American policies and limited the scope of engagement on developmentmilitary cooperation and drug enforcement efforts. This has damaged the prospects for trade and security cooperation.

In other words, please limit presidential terms so we can re-establish our traditional hegemonic position. That should not somehow be confused with the promotion of Latin American democracy, though in the U.S. such confusion is not uncommon.

Incidentally, I can't actually think of a single policy in Latin America that is "anti-American," unless we equate "America" with Chevron, bondholders, etc. Or take the case of something like Bolivian anti-narcotics policy, which in the U.S. is seen as "anti-American" because it's being done in a way that the U.S. government does not like, yet is succeeding and therefore actually advancing U.S. security interests.

Even from the narrow perspective of U.S. interests, we need to think less in terms of "influence" and more in terms of "security." And these days there are no threats coming from other Latin American states, so greater influence won't make the U.S. more secure. Our problems relate to non-state actors, and those cannot be defeated with "influence."


Anonymous,  8:44 AM  

What was the slogan of reformers in Mexico in 1910? "Effective suffrage…" Over long periods of time the Latin American experience with democracy suggests that the concern over reelection is both theoretical and practical. I am not a fan of term limits in the US but we have a more established system of separation of powers. Regardless, any argument for or against reelection should not be made based on the content of transitory policies or short term partisan advantage.

  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP