Monday, November 14, 2016

Senator Ernst Wants Latin America to Focus on Terrorism

Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) wrote a letter to President Obama on the even of his visit to Peru, requesting that he try and make sure Latin American countries are as obsessed with terrorism as we want them to be. It is basically boilerplate calls for more securitization of U.S. policy toward Latin America.

These calls have been happening for many years, though the focus shifts (for example, sometimes it's Iran, which curiously not mentioned in this letter, and sometimes it's ISIS or Hezbollah). I don't think the essentials have changed. There is no sign of an imminent threat and there is little support within Latin America for drastic measures, but it's something to keep an eye on. And I think we are.

The obvious next question is what steps the Trump administration takes. I would assume he will appoint hardliners to key Latin America policy positions. Assumptions about what he'll do are often wrong, but it makes sense as a strategy for an area of world he has no interest in. But if he starts pushing Latin American leaders hard on something they don't feel is the same level of threat, then he'll end up like the Bush administration, which was unpopular and lost all leverage in the region.


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