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R.I.P.: The Monroe Doctrine

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AlphaCentauri Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 12:30 AM
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R.I.P.: The Monroe Doctrine
The Monroe Doctrine, long used to assert the United States political, military and economic hegemony in the Americas, passed away some time this century. Cause of death included post-9/11 geopolitics, economic competition from China and the European Union and the rise of democratic institutions in the area. Although the exact date of death is unknown, the Doctrine was believed to be at least 180 years old.

The obituary for President James Monroes most famous creation appears in Requiem for the Monroe Doctrine, an article by Daniel P. Erikson in the February issue of Current History. Instinctually, the U.S. government believes Latin America is its backyard, and it should have a decisive role in current events, said Erikson, a senior associate for U.S. policy at Inter-American Dialogue. But if you look at the realities of the region, its seeking diverse ties with a wide range of actors like China and the European Union, and there are emerging powers like Brazil and Venezuela. The Doctrine is dead, but no one has issued the death certificate.

Proof of the Doctrines postmortem condition can be found in the recent diplomatic flare-up involving Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela. The crisis was triggered by the Colombian military, which pursued, and then killed, anti-government rebels inside Ecuadorean territory. While the three governments exchanged charges and countercharges, Uncle Sam essentially sat on the sidelines, as impotent as a neutered house cat.

This was obviously an inflammatory situation, and one where the U.S. could find no role, said Erikson. It was not going to force its way into the confrontation, and none of the countries looked to the U.S. to broker a resolution. What youre seeing is a waning of U.S. policy influence in the hemisphere, accompanied by a waning of U.S. economic influence in some countries.

Eriksons article proposes a number of reasons for this. The collapse of the Cold War means there are essentially no dangerous enemies left to fight in Latin America. The rise of democratic governments in the region even such foes as Venezuelas Hugo Chvez and Nicaraguas Daniel Ortega were democratically elected means many regimes now have a legitimacy they never had during the decades of military dictatorship.

This has also led to an independent streak on the part of some countries particularly Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia and Argentina which has caused them to set their own diplomatic paths and cut their own trade agreements. And with the increase in global markets, especially trade between the European Union and China, the U.S., still Latin Americas biggest trading partner, now finds itself truly challenged in this area for the first time.

Plus, there are two long-standing diplomatic issues that the U.S. has been unable, or unwilling, to deal with: immigration and the question of Cuba.

Americans have become as isolated as the Cubans, said Erikson. Almost 180 countries have diplomatic relations with Cuba. The U.S. has always envisioned they would play a major role in the post-Fidel scenario, but with Fidel Castro turning the reins of power over to his brother Raul, we have entered that, and U.S. influence is limited. Its almost exhibit A in the decline of U.S. influence. Who would have thought we would allow a Communist succession to unfold smoothly without any interruptions?

And who would have thought that President Bush, whose first diplomatic visit was to Mexico, would almost completely abandon any interest in Latin America after 9/11, leaving the hot-button issue of immigration to metastasize and become cancerous?

In terms of U.S.-Mexican relations, there is so much disappointment in Mexico and Latin America because there were so many promises made early on in the Bush administration, said Erikson. After 9/11 we blew off Mexico and the region as a whole. And there has been no effort to address (the immigration issue) in any regional and cooperative manner with the Mexicans, so you end up building a wall, which has incredibly damaging symbolism. Theres a sense that the immigration issue can be solved unilaterally by the U.S. government, and thats not the case.

http://www.miller-mccune.com/main/article/186
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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 12:47 PM
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1. It's a realief when we see articles which don't rage for the U.S. to "go crazy" on Latin America!
That's about all we'll ever hear from our right-wing which can't seem to grasp we actually do not OWN Latin America and the Caribbean, and all those indigenous, African, Spanish, Portuguese people are NOT there to do our bidding.

Isn't it sad to look back at what we have witnessed, with our policy being crafted and forged by filthy, rabid, violence-loving, right-wing racists in Washington all this time? Even putrid trash like Rev. Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell have been instrumental in drumming up huge levels of support for genocidal dictators like Efran Rios Montt who slaughtered so many his own people, wiping out entire villages, in his attempt to purge his country of leftists.
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