Sunday, September 20, 2009
Has Anybody Noticed?
The Monroe Doctrine is dead.
Well, certainly Manifest Destiny is dead as far as Central and South America is concerned. Stranger yet -- this all happened under G. W. Bush.
Under Reagan we funded death squads in El Salvador and became obsessed with Nicaragua (which, honestly, the US has had a long standing obsession with) by funding terrorist Contras, invaded what -- Panama and Grenada? And the CIA spent a lot of time and money keeping people like Lula from becoming President of Brazil.
For a long time the specter of Salvador Allende's death and Pinochet's vicious regime haunted the liberals and the left of the Americas -- and even of Europe. Kissinger's terrorism and war crimes had its intended effect.
But under Clinton, Central and South America stopped being a punching bag for US covert operations. Furthermore, under Clinton the military was used for (as far as I can think) the first time to re-establish a democracy since WWII (in Haiti - and ironically a leftist democracy at that.) After Clinton left and G.W. Bush came in, you knew that some real scum was going to start showing up in the government (and Cheney sure gave us the evil -- thanks for giving us a country which tortures people, Dick) but the neo-cons and his ilk, for whatever reason, didn't really focus on Central and South America at all.
Now, even with the School of the Americas only "sort of" closed, Lula is President of Brazil. For those of you who have been paying attention since the 1980's let me say that again.
Lula. Is President. Of Brazil.
Oh, but there's more! Venezuela has a leftist populist President who thumbs his nose regularly at the US (and survived a coup attempt which was weakly backed by the US). Chavez makes sport of how the US does not control his country (OK, he won't stop the flow of oil, I mean he's not suicidal, but still...) Heck, Daniel Ortega is the President of Nicaragua again.
And even under G.W. Bush, nobody cared. Under Obama really nobody cares.
And that's not all. OK. I'm a-gonna digress a bit.
I got a feeling that Francois Mitterrand's influence is still being felt in the Americas. He was all too aware of the force of US foreign policy (and especially the chilling Pinochet regime) in European politics. When he became the first "Socialist" president of a Western power (when was that? 1980? '81?) his economy dumped and he quickly turned around and said "Oh hey, I'm a Capitalist actually. Yeah, dat's it! Heck, I'm such a free-marketeer that I think we should have totally open borders between our countries and have a 'United States of Europe' -- hey guys, whadaya think?"* And that way became the architect of the EU.
Well, I think that what Mitterrand was really doing was ensuring that the US couldn't pick on little European states anymore. The US had a lot of power over the economies of small countries, so any European country which didn't go along with US policy could get beat up economically by the US. But not if their economic power was as big as America's. And that's what Mitterrand figured out and implimented.
Hey -- did you see? After this recent financial collapse, Europe's economy became the biggest in the world -- outstripping the United States. Hmm... who could'a predicted that? I bet Mitterrand did. And I think that lately we can say that European states have been feeling like they don't have to always go along with whatever political or military policy the US says they should.
Of course France quit NATO, but even recently Germany and France haven't seen the need to go along with the American adventure in Iraq -- and effectively haven't (and can't) be punished for it.
Why is that interesting?
Yep, the Union of South American Nations. It's like a... a... United States of South America. And who's the spearhead, the archetect of this idea? It wouldn't be the popular leftist President of Brazil would it?
Oh look. It would.
So Lula's doing in South America the same thing Mitterrand did in Europe.
I'm not saying that South America's economy will be bigger than the US economy anytime soon. I mean, it took 30 years and a huge market crash for Europe to do that. But South America has some advantages -- they almost have a single common language -- except for Brazil, everyone speaks Spanish.
In Europe English is the common language which is a native tongue to only the most recalcitrant of Europeans as the British don't typically even think themselves European.**
So have the days of the US installing a Pinochet in Central or South America come to an end? It looks that way. The American neo-con Right still loves to think of American exceptionalism as destiny manifest, and our economy is only weaker than Europe's in a relative sense -- not an absolute one (I mean other than the little Great Depression we're hopefully avoiding). But our days as the "sole superpower" may have died in the desert of Iraq.
Now, since I'm technically in the export business, hopefully that'll mean that some more Europeans will want to buy some low-budget science fiction...
*He said this in French though.
**Yes, yes, the Irish speak English and they feel more European than the Brits but you get my meaning.