Monday, December 13, 2010

Wikileaks Chile

With virtually all of the cables on Latin America, we learn relatively little but get a fairly discouraging confirmation of what we already know.  In this 2007 cable from then Ambassador Craig Kelly in Santiago (the specific Chile connection was his suggestion to push Chile into being the anti-Chávez model for the region), he argues that the U.S. can work to isolate Hugo Chávez by emphasizing the great things the U.S. does, having U.S. officials meet with marginalized groups, and advocating for free trade.  There's nothing shady or nefarious; instead, the overall effect is one of cluelessness.

The specific recommendations:

A more muscular USG presence in the region that builds on high-level visits, underscores the strengths of viable, successful alternatives (i.e., Brazil and Chile) to Chavez's brand of socialism, targets enhanced resources to regions and populations beyond the elites, and which uses public diplomacy to make our message loud and clear - democracy, freer trade and investment, work and that along with that come active and effective programs to address social ills and the needs of the region's youthful population. Enough said.

This is the type of argument that the Bush administration made many times--we just need to improve our message and let markets work, then people will automatically like us.  Even the mentions of anti-poverty programs seem aimed primarily at promoting the message.  It is just vague and empty, with the unfounded notion that we can so easily drive public opinion.  I always think of the article by William LeoGrande on the Bush administration's policy toward Latin America, entitled "A Poverty of Imagination."  To quote Kelly, "Enough said."


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