Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

The Domino Theory Returns: Red Tide Rising?

by ManfromMiddletown Thu Mar 16th, 2006 at 07:47:01 AM EST

The world is worried about Latin America, so says former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo.

Uneasiness over Latin America at Davos and elsewhere is rooted in the region's perennial economic underperformance and the strong populist tone most of its politicians have been striking in recent electoral campaigns. There is talk of an old-fashioned leftist wave sweeping the region. The fear is that by next fall, when this cycle of national elections has been completed, a large number of governments will have been elected on incredibly retrograde and demagogic platforms that currently hold sway over large numbers of voters.

Perceived Risks

  • People will elect the candidates who campaign on the most irresponsible of promises.
  • Candidates thus put in office will try to do as they promised.
  • This conduct will once again bring about economic disaster, as well as a regression in the impressive democratic progress that, with a few pathological exceptions, has been made during the last 20 years.
  • From the diaries - whataboutbob

    Let them learn the hard way.

    The shear irony of writing about the dangers of Latin American leaders who make promises that they can't keep, and are asinine enough to "stay the course" once they get elected and really fuck things up in George W Bush's United States is clearly lost upon Sr. Zedillo. Worry not though, Zedillo assures us that the market will teach those who sway from the one true path of Neo-Liberalism the error of their ways in short order.

    However, populist politicians--if elected at all and if they've learned anything from history--are unlikely to throw the baby out with the bathwater. They know by now that the financial markets' tolerance of inconsistent policies has worn thin. Market reactions to foolish policies, which used to take months or even years to unravel, now erupt in a matter of days, if not hours, making evident in fairly short order their ominous consequences on GDP growth, employment and inflation. Moreover, democratic governments instinctively try to avoid such disasters in order to retain their hold on power with the voters.

    As this table clearly demonstrates, countries like Argentina, Venezuela, and Uruguay that have rejected the economic policies of the Washington Consensus have clearly suffered economically in comparison Mexico and Colombia who have both been strong adherents to the neoliberal orthodoxy emanating from the World Bank and IMF.  The again, maybe not......

    And the winner is ...... Simon Bolivar?

    The Latin Left is ascendent.  

    In the beginning, there was Chavez in Venezuela, then came Kirchner in Argentina, Vasquez in Uruguay, and Morales in Bolivia. In Washington, the victory of Morales provoked what can only described as muted panic.  The Domino theory returns. There is a growing fear both in the United States and in the capitals of Europe that what Che Guevara could not do with bullets is being accomplised with ballots by politicians of the Latin Left.

    It was Lenin who said that reports of his demise had been much exagerated, and it appears evident that the assumption socialism is dead has been similarly overstated.

    Socialism lives in Buenos Aires, in Bolivia, and in Brazil the winning team in Rio's Carnival parade danced to brotherhood of Latin Americans.  

    The annual parade competition at Brazil's famous Rio de Janeiro carnival has been won by a samba group largely funded by the Venezuelan government.

    The Vila Isabel group, which was declared the winner after a dance-off, had Latin American unity as its theme.

    Vila Isabel's president, Wilson Moises Alves, thanked Venezuela's national oil company, PDVSA, for its funding.

    PDVSA will not say how much money was involved, but reports estimate its donation at more than $500,000......

    The Vila Isabel procession featured floats showcasing the brotherhood of Latin Americans, including a huge effigy of Simon Bolivar and a 1960s anthem dedicated to the left, called I'm Crazy About You, America.

    Thee recent admission of Venezuela to the Mercosur trading bloc promises to bring a far stronger political element to Mercosur, and feed Bolivarian sentiments in the region.  For residents of the United States, the consequences of Latin America's rejection of the Washington Consensus are going to hit a lot closer to home in coming months.  On July 2, Mexicans will elect their next president, and if recent opinion polls are correct, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) is going to come to power with a political platform opposed to the Washington Consensus, albeit much less dramatic than Chavez.  With notions of dominoes falling prevailing in Washington, this does not bode well for Mexican-American relations. With Bush's dramatic decline in recent polls, a latter day Southern Strategy that demonizes AMLO and seals the border might prove tempting.  This would only serve to drive Mexico into Mercosur and the full glory of a truly Bolvarian revolution, but recognition that actions have consequences has not been a strong point for the Bush Adminstration.

    Democracy is on the march..... when convenient

    The massive failure that was the Bush administration's 2002 coup attempt against Hugo Chavez, the democratically elected leader of Venezuela, is well know, but allegations that the Bush administration is funding a seperatist movement in Venezuela's Zulia state have not received the attention that they deserve.  While there's no hard proof of collusion, it makes sense.  Zulia is home to much of Venezuela's oil industry, and depriving Chavez of oil revenues as a method to blunt his inflence in the region is precisely the type of hare-brained scheme that the Bush administration has attempted in the country.  

    Seccession as a strategy to mantain access to energy supplies in the region also played out in Bolivia where the secession of Santa Cruz, where large natural gas deposits have been discovered, was put forward as a possibility if Morales won, and the rank neo-liberalism of Rumbo Propio and its #2 Alberto Mansueti stink of Washington's Cato Insitute and Spain's FAES.  

    The pillars of the Rumbo Propio (trans. Our Path) project, as explained by Mansueti, are autonomy and a market economy for Zulia. "We want one country, two systems, as with Hong Kong in respect to China", clarified the spokesman. "If Venezuela moves towards the socialist model, for Zulia we want a market economy model. We are Liberals in economic, conservatives in politics, and hristians in principals.  Have I explained myself?"

    Los pilares del proyecto de Rumbo Propio, según se desprende de lo conversado con Mansueti, son la autonomía y economía de mercado para Zulia. "Queremos un país y dos sistemas, como el de Hong Kong respecto a China", concreta el portavoz. "Si Venezuela va hacia el modelo socialista, para Zulia queremos el modelo de una economía de mercado.

    Somos liberales en lo económico, conservadores en lo político y cristianos en los principios ¿Me explico?".

    Latin American borders have largely been a fixed affair since the early 1940's when Peru swallowed a much of the Amazonian territory of Ecuador, however the increasing division of Latin America into countries that support neo-liberal policies (Columbia, the Central American republics, and Ecuador), and the bloc opposed to the policies of the Washington Consensus and neoliberalism (Venezuela, Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, and to a lesser extent Brazil). While the world has been focused on the mess in Iraq with a lesser focus on the rise of China as a superpower, the impulse to integration and the rejection of the Washington Consensus in Latin America has largely been ignored save the "Oh shit" moments like when Morales was elected president of Bolivia. The birth of a divided continent is likely.

    The new free-trade map of the Americas may soon show an east-west partition of the hemisphere. There may be a Pacific bloc of nations -- made up of Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Central America and Mexico -- with free-trade deals and growing economic ties with Washington, and an Atlantic bloc of agricultural or oil-producing countries -- Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela -- that will pursue a more independent path.

    Another way to state this is FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas) vs. Mercosur.  


    Neo-liberalism vs. Bolivarianism.  

    The numbers are amazing. The Mercosur core (Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay) plus Venezuela and Bolivia has a GDP of 785.4 billion USD, 9th globally, with a population of 268 million, 4th globally. There's been some speculation that if Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and his leftist PDR (Democratic Revolution Party) win, there will be a move away from NAFTA and the FTAA, and towards Mercosur, which has been developing as a viable alternative to Washington with the willingness of Chavez to bail out other countries from loan debt that puts their sovereignty as risk when the IMF and World Bank attach conditions to further loans.  If Mexico is pushed in the Mercosur bloc, the group would have a GDP of 1,462 billion USD,  8th globally, and a combined total population of 374 million, 3rd globally and 81% that of the EU. It would be by all measures a player on the world stage, and an economy with plenty of room for growth and the natural resources to fuel that growth.  

    All of this make charges that Obrador is taking money from Chavez all the more explosive, and the fear of  "red tide" lapping at America's souther border is beginning to penetrate into the conservative consciousness in the US.  Prior to the Dubai ports deal, immigration appeared to offer the Republican party a strategy to combat their decline in the polls.  That is to say the least a much harder sell at this time, however should Obrador when in July, I expect that the "communist" threat from Latin America will become a topic of discussion for discussion in American politics. The pressure to clamp down on illegal immigration would also undoubtedly put the libertarian wing, who want cheap Mexican labor, and nationalist conservative wing, who want to seal the border, of the Republican party at each others throats.  The "red tide" rising message provides a way or Republicans to change the message, like when the hunt for Osama Bin Laden somehow led to the invasion of Iraq.

    Hugo Chavez and the revolution of which he is in the vanguard are by no means perfect.  Like many Latin leaders, Chavez is at times burdened with machismo and a belligerency that is not productive, and there are serious questions about la lista, the list of people who signed the petition to recall Chavez, and who have not been allowed to access social programs and jobs as a result of political beliefs.  And the creation of a civilian reserve, 2 million strong, in order to create a guerilla fighting force in case the US invades, raises serious questions about the militarization of Venezuelan society. However, US support for the 2002 coup attempt, the situation in Zulia, and the blowup in Britain over the "Argentine threat" to the Falklands, all suggest a certain level of anxiety is justified. Finally, for its failing Chavez Venezuela is a demorcraticly elected government that suffers from the same problems as the rest of the continent:

    Like all of Latin America, Venezuela has governance problems: a weak state, limited rule of law, corruption and incompetent government. But no reputable human rights organization has alleged that Venezuela under Chavez has deteriorated with regard to civil liberties, human rights or democracy, as compared with prior governments. Nor does the country compare unfavorably on these criteria with its neighbors in the region. In Peru, the government has shut down opposition TV stations; in Colombia, union organizers are murdered with impunity.

    From a Latin American point of view, Venezuelans should have the right to choose their own president -- even one who sometimes insults the American president -- without interference from the United States. And Chavez's anger at Washington, from Latin Americans' point of view, appears justified. U.S. government documents released under our Freedom of Information Act indicate that Washington not only supported but was involved in the military coup that temporarily overthrew Venezuela's elected government in April 2002. Here in Washington, there is a "Monty Python" attitude toward the coup: "Let's not argue about who killed who." But in Latin America, a military coup against a democratically elected government is still considered a serious crime. To top it off, Washington continued to finance efforts to recall Chavez and, having failed miserably,still regularly presents him as a threat to democracy in the region.

    There is no red tide rising in Latin America, there is however a recognition that the economic and public policy presecriptions of the Washington Consensus have been a miserable failure. Unless Washington (and European capitals) get serious about offering real development solutions instead of the same old soverignty killing policies from the IMF and World Bank, relations between the West and Latin America will grow more strained, and present the opportunity for new mistakes to rival the mess created in the Middle East when the US and UK decided that democracy was on the march.

    I'm going to crosspost this in the morning to Daily Kos and Booman.  It's 3 in the morning here, which I imagine has to be about the time that Fran wakes up to post European Breafast, but is making me seriously sleepy.

    And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg
    by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Thu Mar 16th, 2006 at 03:07:26 AM EST
    Thanks for posting this.
    by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Thu Mar 16th, 2006 at 04:42:34 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    The proof is in the pudding, particularly in the case of Argentina and Brazil. Mexico soon enough, where Zedillo played a great part in seriously damaging the nation's economy during the 90s.

    Basically, I can't think of two countries that were screwed more by IMF style neo-liberalism than Argentina and Mexico.

    After NAFTA passed, Mexico's real wage per capita declined 15%.

    None of this is an argument against trade. In principle, I'm a free trader and I think a return to import substitution would be a mistake. But this isn't what Lula or Kirchner or even Chavez are offering. Instead, it is attempt to participate on the global economy on their terms, not on those of American or European multinationals.

    by Ben P (wbp@u.washington.edu) on Thu Mar 16th, 2006 at 04:34:15 AM EST
    Which European capitals would those be then? Quite a number would consider a left-leaning South America a good thing, surely?
    by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 16th, 2006 at 04:48:05 AM EST
    Or do they mean right-leaning think tanks and parties in European capitals?
    by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 16th, 2006 at 04:48:29 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Well, I know there was flurry about the "new Argentine threat" here in the UK. Whether the govt was behind the flurry or it was mostly ramped up by the right of centre press it is hard to say.
    by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Thu Mar 16th, 2006 at 06:29:58 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I need to stop trying to finish these things in the middle of the night, I don't finish my train of thought.

    Metatone is right about  comments by the Tory Leader David Cameron regarding the "Argentine threat" to the Falklands, and perhaps more oddly, the incident in Bolivia in which offials of Repsol, the large Spanish petroleum company where placed under arrest for alledged financial misconduct.  Madrid was not amused, and Zapatero was placed in a difficult position, calling for their release and undermining the relationship with Morales.

    The comments by Cameron likely have less to do with the Falklands than with British investments in the region.  The UK still owns a large chunk of the British, and during the Bolovian Gas Wars while the gas was being sent to the US, the companies involved were largely European. (Spain's Repsol,  and BG and BP from the UK.) In the water privitization craze fueled by the World Bank most of the companies were European.

    One of the sad truths about the world today is that European companies often benefit from the Neo-liberal orthodoxy enforced by Washington, but are given any of the blame when troubles come.  The current rejection of the Washington Consensus in Latin America isn't about anti-Americanism. It's a rejection of neo-liberalism on the continent, of which Europeans are often beneficiaries.  

    And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

    by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Thu Mar 16th, 2006 at 12:19:49 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Regarding Mexico and Mercosur...why do they have to be pushed there? Couldn't they be invited? Wouldn't that look like an inviting choice for them?

    "Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
    by whataboutbob on Thu Mar 16th, 2006 at 08:24:21 AM EST
    My understading is that Mexico has already been offered associate status, like Chile and Peru.  

    If Humala wins in Peru I expect that that Peru will become a full member of Mercosur in short order.  There's mounting evidence of a US funded smear campaign in that country as well.

    With Mexico, there's a hard choice to be made.  Look north or look south.  The orientation of the Meixican economy to the maquiladoras of the north ties them with the US, but the loss of many of these factories to China, and the possibility of an escalation between Bush and Obrador might change the dynamics in the region.

    And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

    by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Thu Mar 16th, 2006 at 12:36:12 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Great diary.

    My view is that the US has involved itself in Latin American politics far too often over the years and needs to just get the hell out of it.  Anyone in America who fears the rise of a Communist foe in Latin America is a fool.  What are they going to do?  Throw red coffee beans at us?  (I suppose they could refuse to sell us oil, but I'm all for that.  More reason to get off the evil, black goop.)  The Cold War's over, and it's time to get over it.  Let Latin America be Latin America, and, if some sort of violent revolution were to take place, as the Bushees seem to imply is happening, whether with guns or with elections...oh well.  I want nothing to do with it.  They can work their own problems out.  Chavez was elected.  So was the woman in Chile, whose name I can't remember, obviously.  Good for them.  I hope they're successful, and that their citizens' lives are made better -- whether Left, Right, Center, Socialist, Free-Marketeer, Moderate, whatever.  As far as I'm concerned, it's none of our damned business, and Latin Americans are smart enough to make their own decisions.

    If they want to trade with us, then great.  If not, then great.  We need to leave these people alone.  No more killing farmers because of Americans' inability to put their crack pipes down.  No more intervention when elections don't go our way.  I'm tired of being involved in every country's business.  America needs to move to isolationism in foreign policy.  Our new motto should be, "We Didn't See Nothin', and We're Not Getting Involved."  All soldiers brought home, all bases closed, and so on.  We get ourselves into too much trouble when we get involved in interventionist foreign policy.

    As far as the "Washington Consensus" is concerned, I still don't understand why policy-makers would push it, since no developed country in its right mind would take on such policies.  "Gosh, the economy's going into a recession, so let's throw every contractionary policy we can at the problem!"  The "Washington Consensus" was the exact opposite of Keynesianism, and -- shock of all shocks! -- it was a disaster.

    Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

    by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Mar 16th, 2006 at 03:27:34 PM EST
    The Woman in Chile is Bachelet.

    A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
    by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 16th, 2006 at 03:31:39 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Ah, thank you.  I like what little I've seen of her, though I don't know what policies she's pushing.

    Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
    by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Fri Mar 17th, 2006 at 09:17:29 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Can you elaborate on the underlying assumption that the only foreign intervention that the US can carry out is military?

    A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
    by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 17th, 2006 at 09:21:48 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Sure.  Or I can at least give you my hypothesis.  I'm all for US intervention by peaceful means in the name of human rights -- liberty, democracy, equal application of law, and so on.  And I would even support, even volunteer for, military intervention in the name of stopping genocide.  But the problem I see is that the US suffers from one side of the aisle, the Republicans, being followers of neoconservative foreign policy -- meaning, "It's all about power in the international arena."  And I think that inevitably breeds a desire to intervene, militarily, in other countries' affairs when they don't agree with the neoconservative view of what constitutes "our interests" -- or, more accurately, "what brings us more power."

    It all comes down to my view that, whether in a democracy or in a totalitarian state, bad people will seek power and attempt to use it for their own interests when the opportunity presents itself -- whether it's, in the very extreme case, someone like Mao Zedong or, in the less extreme case, someone like Dick Cheney.

    Americans are, believe it or not, isolationists at their core, when it comes to the military -- the reason, I'm convinced, for why our leadership has consistently involved itself in foreign affairs secretly.  That goes back all the way to George Washington, who warned the country to avoid "foreign entanglements".  (He meant treaties, but only because they connected with foreign wars.  I have no doubt that Washington and the other Founders would've supported agreements like Kyoto.)  This was the (in my view incorrect) stance America took at the beginning of both World Wars, too.

    Americans would never have supported the Iraq invasion had it not been for 9/11 and the constant stream of propaganda that followed.  They opposed invasion back in the late-1990s, when Clinton was threatening it.  They opposed getting involved in WWII until the Japanese attacked.  But, when the country is attacked, and when the population is given a target, -- in the case of Iraq, it was, obviously, the wrong target -- it goes into a "We Will Kick The Living Shit Out Of You" frenzy.  People who have been attacked will look for a reason to beat the hell out of someone.  And, when led by such a dangerous group, that's a deadly combination.

    But Americans are also -- again, believe it or not -- idealists at their core, to an admittedly obnoxious extent.  They want to believe they're doing great things.  They want to believe they're freeing the world from injustice.  And it's much too easy for people, like the Neocons (who are really just the modern form of the so-called "Cold Warriors," or, more accurately, the McCarthyists), to prey upon those feelings.

    So the answer, in my mind, is to keep the country away from foreign intervention, because it will inevitably lead to unnecessary military assaults.  The actions of the well-intentioned are not the problem.  It's the precedents they set -- the doors they open -- that are the problem.

    Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

    by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Fri Mar 17th, 2006 at 11:08:37 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Great. So why is this? Why can't the US exercise soft power?

    A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
    by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 17th, 2006 at 11:24:19 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Because, despite having quite literally written the book on the topic and means of exercising soft power and putting together win-win solutions to problems, the discourse in the US is dominated by people for whom the complex, slow and often invisible application of soft power is anathema. You see it here and you see it on dKos. Speech in terms of violence. Problems must be solved now. Patience is not a virtue. Doing nothing rather than doing something stupid that will not improve the situation is weakness. The myth that violence can solve any problem. And the fact that, for many people, war==profit.
    by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Mar 17th, 2006 at 11:36:52 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Because I think Americans are usually only interested in intervention when the situation seems to call for war -- when it can be painted as "defending the country from tyranny."  If it's not seen as an absolute necessity, then they don't typically want to be involved.  (Note the emphasis on "seems" and "seen".)  That's not always the case, and I submit to you that, were we given proper media coverage of Darfur, the citizenry would want to intervene.  But I think it holds in general.

    That's, obviously, just my opinion, based on my experience and reading of the country right now.

    Otherwise, they tend to see it as simply putting soldiers in harm's way for no reason.  Remember that George W. Bush "won" in 2000 partly on his insistence that the US not be "The World's Police".  Obviously he changed his tune when becoming the world's police was seen as a political opportunity, thanks to a public that was scared out of its collective mind and wanted to bomb the hell out of something in response.

    Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

    by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Fri Mar 17th, 2006 at 12:21:33 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    No, no, no. I'm talking about soft power. Defending your interest but not in the style of Commodore Perry.

    Why does "get involved" have to entail "putting soldiers in harm's way"?

    This is the key.

    A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

    by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 17th, 2006 at 12:24:43 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Ever heard of the Alliance for Progress? Peace Corps?

    Why do you think <strike>they killed</strike> Kennedy was killed?

    And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

    by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Fri Mar 17th, 2006 at 01:15:10 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Point taken.

    A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
    by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 17th, 2006 at 01:16:41 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Part of my answer, honestly, is that I don't know.  If I were big on the use of hard power, I wouldn't be here on a liberal blog.  I'm having trouble coming up with an answer.

    As far as using soft power to protect "our interests" -- whatever those are; I don't think Americans have much by way of collective interests, and certainly not in the way that the word "interest" is often taken to mean -- is concerned, we do that all the time.  We're in the beginning stages of using it with China on trade and currency policy.  We're doing it with North Korea, too.  (For some reason, we love multilateralism, when the issue is North Korea'a nuclear weapons.  Just in case you didn't think the Bushees were complete hypocrites....)  It's just that the use of soft power is never published or thought of on the scale that hard power is, and understandably so.  The Iraq War is, after all, a much bigger story than trade talks.

    But, again, I just don't get the sense that Americans are interested in being involved with "doing something about some issue" when the stakes are not high and "we" can't rationalize it with some view of our national security -- meaning some situation that might call for putting troops in harm's way.

    The US doesn't even need to use hard power for anything, aside from police and intelligence personnel to track down al-Qaeda members.  It's such an economic giant, and many countries' economies are so dependent upon US consumers, that the use of hard power is just ridiculous, to me at least.  We could force, for example, China to open up to human rights tomorrow, if we would only put a bit of effort into it.  All we would have to do is threaten to close off trade with it, and the CCP would fold like a house of cards (or the Chinese economy would collapse in a matter of hours if the CCP refused our demands).

    What's so frustrating, to me, is that the US could achieve all of the ideals it claims to represent, and it could achieve them without firing a shot.  It has the power to do so.  But no one, aside from Jimmy Carter, seems to advocate it.

    With regard to Iraq, and US use of hard power there, I don't know the answer, honestly.  I don't see any economic interests in Iraq.  More oil is not in my interest.  (Oil represents the bad kind of interdependency, from an liberal economist's point of view.)  Democracy and liberty are, of course, in my interest, ideologically.  But they are elsewhere, too, and I don't believe they can be produced by an outside force in a country that has little or no history with the two.  Revolution towards liberal democracy has got to come from within.  Even if oil were seen as being in "our interest," it would've been a hell of a lot easier to simply open up trade.

    I also don't follow the logic:  Why open up to China and India, who could each potentially pose a greater threat, but not Iraq?  I've wondered the same thing about Cuba, though Cuba, obviously, poses no threat to us.  (I can get tobacco elsewhere.)  Iraq might have posed a threat to Israel, but I doubt it.  Again, as with Iran, Israel could blow Iraq off the map in a matter of minutes.  The Israelis are hardly incompetent when it comes to war.  Nor is it in my interest to send my fellow citizens to protect a country whose leadership I don't trust.

    Anyway, again, I don't know, and I've ranted quite a bit.  My mind is a bit clouded, since I didn't get a lot of sleep last night.

    Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

    by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Fri Mar 17th, 2006 at 01:38:04 PM EST
    [ Parent ]

    Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]