[Marxism] Moises Naim: "The Good Neighbor Strategy" (TIME magazine)

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Mon Jul 17 07:05:42 MDT 2006


(The author of this essay, Moises Naim, is Venezuelan and very anti-
Chavez. He was an official in the Venezuelan governments prior to
the Chavez era. He's trying to advise the Bush administration and
others of their ilk with a better stategy to defeat Chavez and the
Cuban Revolution. Such advice is something well-worth understanding,
and it's a very good sign that such viewpoints are being circulated
widely in print and the internet. His idea seems to be a kind of new
yankee way of countering ALBA, or a kind of repackaging of ALCA.

NIAM also argues that the U.S. should "engage" Brazil. This idea may 
seem surprising to those on the political left and ultra=left who've 
been arguing about what a terrible sellout and betrayer Lula has been. 
For Brazil, Naim favors such policy changes as "freer access to the 
U.S. market for Brazilian steel, shoes, orange juice, ethanol and 
other products that currently face import barriers." He seems to be
oblivious to the trends toward protectionism in the United States,
by both some sectors of business, and most sectors of the organized
labor movement. 

NAIM argues:

("The first step toward draining the appeal of Chávezism and restoring
the U.S.'s image in Latin America would be to unilaterally lift the
embargo on Cuba. The U.S. embargo has never worked as a tool to
weaken Castro. Instead it has provided him with a wonderful excuse to
hide his failures and justify the island's dire poverty and harsh
political repression. The embargo is even less effective now that
Cuba is so deeply intertwined economically and politically with
Venezuela and other countries in the region. Embargoing Cuba without
cutting off its ties to other countries is akin to staging an embargo
against Portugal that ignores its ties to the rest of Europe. The
U.S. embargo on Cuba has enormous political costs for the U.S. and no
benefit other than pleasing a portion, but not all, of Cuban-American
voters. Moreover, for the U.S. to maintain an embargo on Cuba while
embracing Vietnam--a communist state with which the U.S. fought a
long and costly war--and promoting trade and investment with Hanoi
represents a blatant double standard that provides ammunition to U.S.
detractors everywhere.")
====================================================================

07/09/06 - 
Time Magazine - The Good Neighbor Strategy

Mexico's disputed election reflects a struggle for Latin America's
soul. Moises Naim explains how that could help Bush define his legacy
By MOISES NAIM

A presidential election too close to call.

Aggrieved voters in the streets. Partisans exchanging accusations of
fraud and demanding manual recounts. Lawyers drooling in expectation
of weeks of court fights.

Sound familiar? It should. Mexico City today feels a lot like
Tallahassee, Fla., six year ago.

But Mexico's election is about much more than who will become the
country's next President, and its result will have lasting
implications for Latin America as a whole. In 2000, although U.S.
voters were choosing between two very different presidential
candidates, only a minority felt that the outcome would drastically
alter the basic foundations of the nation. Not so for Mexicans.
Voters believed the election would not only decide who would run the
country for six years but also, more fundamentally, what kind of
political and economic system Mexico would have. The platforms of the
two leading candidates--the conservative Felipe Calderón and the
leftist Andrés Manuel López Obrador--differed on the roles of the
state vs. the market, the nature of political institutions, how to
fight poverty and what kinds of links Mexico should have with the
rest of the world.

That clash of visions is not confined to Mexico.

Similar battles are raging throughout Latin America, which is
witnessing the rise of a generation of politicians seeking to
capitalize on frustration with the free-market, pro-American policies
commonly pursued in the region in the 1990s, when much was promised
and little was accomplished in terms of raising living standards. The
leader of this turn toward populism is Venezuelan President Hugo
Chávez, who has cast himself as the heir to Fidel Castro, using his
country's oil bonanza to purchase political influence all over the
continent. But in recent months, the Chávez movement has run up
against opposition from forces that view it as wrongheaded,
militaristic and undemocratic. In Mexico's election, as in Peru's
last month, Chávez turned out to be more of a liability than an asset
to the leftist candidate carrying his banner.

That ambivalence provides an opportunity for the U.S. The issues
fueling the Chávez movement--poverty, inequality, exclusion,
corruption and widespread frustration--haven't gone away. Despite the
perorations of populists like Chávez and Castro, Latin America's
maladies are not made in Washington but are self-inflicted wounds
originating in the predatory élites that control policymaking in
places like Buenos Aires, Caracas, Brasília and Mexico City. Those
are problems for which Washington has never had the skills or the
means to influence. On the whole, the U.S. is better off letting
Latin Americans figure out how to solve Latin America's problems.

But indifference has its costs too. After Sept. 11, the U.S.'s
priorities of fighting Islamic terrorism and waging wars in
Afghanistan and Iraq have led the Bush Administration to ignore Latin
America as mostly irrelevant, which has allowed leaders like Chávez
to attack U.S. policies at will and sully Washington's reputation in
the region. But the U.S. can still repair much of the damage--if it
takes two bold initiatives that would break through the shortsighted
policies that limit its opportunities in Latin America.

The first step toward draining the appeal of Chávezism and restoring
the U.S.'s image in Latin America would be to unilaterally lift the
embargo on Cuba. The U.S. embargo has never worked as a tool to
weaken Castro. Instead it has provided him with a wonderful excuse to
hide his failures and justify the island's dire poverty and harsh
political repression. The embargo is even less effective now that
Cuba is so deeply intertwined economically and politically with
Venezuela and other countries in the region. Embargoing Cuba without
cutting off its ties to other countries is akin to staging an embargo
against Portugal that ignores its ties to the rest of Europe. The
U.S. embargo on Cuba has enormous political costs for the U.S. and no
benefit other than pleasing a portion, but not all, of Cuban-American
voters. Moreover, for the U.S. to maintain an embargo on Cuba while
embracing Vietnam--a communist state with which the U.S. fought a
long and costly war--and promoting trade and investment with Hanoi
represents a blatant double standard that provides ammunition to U.S.
detractors everywhere.

Another strategic surprise would be to engage the largest, most
influential country in South America: Brazil. For decades U.S. 
policy toward Latin America has been driven by emergencies and a
small-country bias: Cuba, the tiny Central American nations, Grenada
and Haiti have all consumed far more of Washington's time and
resources than giant Brazil, which was too big, remote and
independent to be a pawn in the cold war. The only significant
departure from the U.S.'s small-country bias has been with Mexico,
first in the creation of NAFTA and then when Washington bailed the
country out after its financial crash in 1994. Paying attention to
Brazil would involve offering an attractive trade agreement that
would grant freer access to the U.S. market for Brazilian steel,
shoes, orange juice, ethanol and other products that currently face
import barriers. The costs for the U.S. economy would be relatively
minimal. For Brazil, such a deal would stimulate exports, drive
investment and lift the economy.

Even more important, such an approach would reward and support a
country (and a government) that is providing a powerful
counterexample to the populist policies that are gaining favor in the
region. That could be a very inclusive initiative: any Latin American
country could be invited to join the two leading nations in the
western hemisphere in this agreement. To be eligible, countries would
need to adopt pro-poor, growth-inducing economic reforms that spur
competition and open markets. They would also be required to enact
political reforms that strengthen democratic practices and
institutions. It could be a powerful stimulus for positive change,
since few countries in the region could afford to be left out of an
economic arrangement that included Brazil and the U.S.

Would this Administration be willing to pursue either of these moves?
At this stage it doesn't seem likely. The first measure would provoke
howls from many Cuban exiles in Florida, while the second would irk
U.S. business interests that would face competition from Brazilian
imports. But if Richard Nixon could go to China, perhaps George W.
Bush could discover Brazil--and stop making a failed Caribbean
dictator an important element of U.S. policy. It could be that an
embattled, second-term U.S. President looking for a legacy other than
a botched attempt at installing democracy in faraway lands could warm
up to the idea of leaving a permanent, positive mark in his country's
own neighborhood.

Moisés Naím is editor in chief of Foreign Policy magazine and author
of Illicit: How Smugglers, Traffickers and Copycats Are Hijacking the
Global Economy

Copyright © 2006 Time Inc. All rights reserved.





More information about the Marxism mailing list