Friday, January 16, 2015

Russia's Influence in Latin America

Douglas Farah and Liana Eustacia Reyes argue that Russia's position in Latin America is a major threat to the United States. They posit the following:

Given its current positioning, we argue that Russia now has more influence in Latin America than ever before, even including at the height of the Cold War.

I'm a bit torn here. In class I spend time talking about how the United States consistently overestimated the Soviet presence in Latin America, which led to overreaction. That does not mean, however, that the Soviets weren't present. And in my opinion the Soviets were more relevant than the Russians are now, especially in threat terms.

Russia’s rise underscores the significant loss of Washington’s ability to shape events in a region close to home and of significant strategic interest. This decline, due to Washington’s waning policy attention amid multiple global crises and severe budget constraints, is leaving the United States with a shrinking group of friends in the hemisphere. Since 2010, U.S. military and diplomatic engagement efforts have been scaled back dramatically, as both civilian and security assistance have been reduced. Regional initiatives have been among the hardest hit by ongoing budget austerity,
which has left a vacuum that is being partially filled by extra-regional actors and a growing group of political leaders who hope for the continued weakening of U.S. influence in the hemisphere
This is very overstated, as I've argued before. This is part of a common meme of "losing Latin America," which is typically asserted with minimal evidence.

The authors argue that no one is paying attention to Russia's presence in Latin America, yet looking back I see how Tom Shannon discussed it back in 2008. And that same year there was talk of a "new Cold War" that actually never happened.

Simply put, Russia's presence in Latin America does not constitute a security threat to the United States.


Anonymous,  1:42 PM  

I have to wonder exactly what Russia would do with Latin America when it has trouble in just Europe and Asia.

Greg Weeks 2:11 PM  

Not to mention low oil prices, which mean even more trouble at home.

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