Thursday, January 25, 2007

Final thoughts on Iran in Latin America

I had written (for example, here) about President Ahmadinejad’s recent mini-tour of Latin America, which was intended—in conjunction with Hugo Chávez—to rouse anti-imperialist sentiment against the United States. My own conclusion was that it had almost no effect at all.

Now The Economist reveals that the Latin America trip was very unpopular in Iran:

Mr Ahmadinejad's anti-American bluster has also been attacked in light of his recent visit to Latin America, widely viewed as ill-timed and unnecessary. A reformist daily, Etemaad-e Melli, called the Venezuelan, Ecuadorean and Nicaraguan presidents, who embraced Iran's president, “left-wing friends, good for coffee-shop discussions but not for setting our security, political and economic priorities”.

During the trip, Mr Ahmadinejad announced he would put $1 billion into an Iranian-Venezuelan fund to help countries “free themselves from the yoke of American imperialism”. That sharpened the more serious criticisms he faces at home over Iran's economic performance.

A recent statement signed by 150 members of parliament imposed conditions on the president in drawing up the budget for the next Iranian year, which starts in late March. The MPs are now calling on him to defend his record before parliament.

In short, I don’t think Iran will be much involved with Latin America. Unfortunately, however, the U.S. government has yet to demonstrate that it can offer any real alternatives to the rhetorical bluster. Instead, it usually just offers up its own bluster.


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