Monday, May 08, 2006

Rorshach Test: Why Is Latin American Poverty Our Problem?

The Administration has found a way to link Latin America policy to the War on Terror [via]: "Lawlessness" which enables drug smuggling, paramilitary organizations, copyright infringers, and other non-legal groups to operate.
Even the Pentagon acknowledges that the "roots" of Latin America's "poor security environment" can be found in the "hopelessness and squalor of poverty."
Don't you love it when they finally get around to saying the same stuff we've been saying for years. Except now it gives them the green light to pull more Pinochets out of their back pockets....


reader_iam said...

It think it's a little more complex than the "hopelessness and squalor of poverty," though under no circumstances would I dismiss that as a factor--and a large one. There's the war on drugs itself, for one thing, which policy can certainly be laid at our door, though certainly there were and are plenty of homegrown elements that have exploited that for their own gain. There are issues of resources and how they are controlled (that's more of an internal problem to Latin American countries). There is also a history of exploitive, counterproductive and even harmful ideologies (and note the plural) that at one time or another caused mischief. Not all of these are the responsibility of the U.S. and its policies, though certainly there are notable examples that absolutely can be laid at our door--and that of other nations, as well.

Also, Latin America is not a monolith (not that you in any way said it was), and some of the issues and parameters vary quite a bit based on the individual country in question.

I readily acknowledge, Ahistoricality, that I just skimmed the surface and was necessarily broad-brush in this comment, due to scope, time and all that.

But I think it's enough to indicate how I tend to look at the situation(s).

Ahistoricality said...

No question, the history and situation is complicated, which is why there's a touch of schadefreud seeing at least a part of the administration having to wrestle with the failure of one-size-fits-all policies.... I'm not a big one for rehashing history endlessly (ironic, ain't it?), but I do think the learning curve ought to be a lot shorter...

Latin America is not "our responsibility" in the same way that, say, Iraq is, but we've done an awful lot of interferance down there, most of which has been fundamentally harmful.

We're safer when our neighbors (and that's a big neighborhood, now) are healthy. But there's way too much emphasis on controlling the situation: if our money, our troops, our laws don't apply, we don't admit that things could be OK anyway. That's our biggest blind spot.