Friday, May 28, 2010

2010 National Security Strategy and Latin America

The 2010 National Security Strategy just came out.  It covers a lot of ground, but in general it moves the U.S. away from unilateralism and toward engagement and international institutions.  Here is a general taste with mention of the Americas:

We are working to build deeper and more effective partnerships with other key centers of influence—including China, India, and Russia, as well as increasingly influential nations such as Brazil, South Africa, and Indonesia—so that we can cooperate on issues of bilateral and global concern, with the recognition that power, in an interconnected world, is no longer a zero sum game. We are expanding our outreach to emerging nations, particularly those that can be models of regional success and stability, from the Americas to Africa to Southeast Asia. And we will pursue engagement with hostile nations to test their intentions, give their governments the opportunity to change course, reach out to their people, and mobilize international coalitions.

This is very different from President Bush's 2006 National Security Strategy, which clearly singled out Fidel Castro without naming him (but who else is a "tyrant" from a "different era" in Latin America?) and Hugo Chávez (reference to populism).  The Bush strategy had a lot more about what the U.S. rejects and refuses.  Peter Feaver notes how those references were dropped, disapproving of having no mention of Venezuela.  But since U.S.-Latin American relations deteriorated sharply during the Bush administration, it is all to the good that the strategy shifts.

Mexico, of course, gets special mention, nothing too new or surprising:

The strategic partnerships and unique relationships we maintain with Canada and Mexico are critical to U.S. national security and have a direct effect on the security of our homeland. With billions of dollars in trade, shared critical infrastructure, and millions of our citizens moving across our common borders, no two countries are more directly connected to our daily lives. We must change the way we think about our shared borders, in order to secure and expedite the lawful and legitimate flow of people and goods while interdicting transnational threat that threaten our open societies.


With Mexico, in addition to trade cooperation, we are working together to identify and interdict threats at the earliest opportunity, even before they reach North America. Stability and security in Mexico are indispensable to building a strong economic partnership, fighting the illicit drug and arms trade, and promoting sound immigration policy.

Brazil then also gets more props:

In the Americas, we are bound by proximity, integrated markets, energy interdependence, a broadly shared commitment to democracy, and the rule of law. Our deep historical, familial, and cultural ties make our alliances and partnerships critical to U.S. interests. We will work in equal partnership to advance economic and social inclusion, safeguard citizen safety and security, promote clean energy, and defend universal values of the people of the hemisphere.

We welcome Brazil’s leadership and seek to move beyond dated North-South divisions to pursue progress on bilateral, hemispheric, and global issues. Brazil’s macroeconomic success, coupled with its steps to narrow socioeconomic gaps, provide important lessons for countries throughout the Americas and Africa. We will encourage Brazilian efforts against illicit transnational networks. As guardian of a unique national  environmental patrimony and a leader in renewable fuels, Brazil is an important partner in confronting global climate change and promoting energy security. And in the context of the G-20 and the Doha round, we will work with Brazil to ensure that economic development and prosperity is broadly shared.

Interestingly, President Bush's National Security Strategy (from 2006) mentions Brazil only once, and in passing.  I think that is an important shift.  Regardless of the controversy surrounding Brazil's efforts to engage with Iran, the Obama administration is making public efforts to recognize Brazil's growing global importance.  Plus, the use of the word "dated" is another dig at the Bush administration's Cold War-type approach to Cuba and Venezuela.

It also mentions immigration reform, which the Bush Strategy had also mentioned only in passing:

The United States is a nation of immigrants. Our ability to innovate, our ties to the world, and our economic prosperity depend on our nation’s capacity to welcome and assimilate immigrants, and a visa system which welcomes skilled professionals from around the world. At the same time, effective border security and immigration enforcement must keep the country safe and deter unlawful entry. Indeed, persistent problems in immigration policy consume valuable resources needed to advance other security objectives and make it harder to focus on the most dangerous threats facing our country. Ultimately, our national security depends on striking a balance between security and openness. To advance this goal, we must pursue comprehensive immigration reform that effectively secures our borders, while repairing a broken system that fails to serve the needs of our nation.

Ironically, the administration is currently actively engaged in the "consume valuable resources needed to advance other security objectives."  At the same time, it is good to point out how lack of reform has a negative impact on security.


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