Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Don't Do Stupid Stuff in Latin America

As I've written quite a few times, I like the general thrust of President Obama's policy toward Latin America. More specifically, I like the lack of a one-size-fits-all grand strategy, a focus on positive day-to-day relations on the ground, and hesitance to act too quickly. This does not mean I have agreed with everything the administration has done and I've written about that too. In his speech today at West Point, Obama summed up what I consider the basic reason I approve of his approach:

On a trip to Asia last month, Mr. Obama described his foreign-policy credo with a baseball analogy: “You hit singles, you hit doubles; every once in a while we may be able to hit a home run.” But, he added, the overriding objective is to avoid an error on the order of the Iraq war.
 In private conversations, the president has used a saltier variation of the phrase, “don’t do stupid stuff” – brushing aside as reckless those who say the United States should consider enforcing a no-fly zone in Syria or supplying arms to Ukrainian troops.

The saltier version is "don't do stupid shit," and I like the sound of that. Time and time again, the United States has done really stupid shit in Latin America and it's nice to have someone in office whose goal is to avoid it. Stupid shit does sometimes happen--the NSA flap being a recent one--but at least it seems to stay contained.


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