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How can the US improve its foreign policy toward Latin America? An American backyard or A Real Partner?

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Over the historical course, the relations between Latin America and the United States has undergone different perplexing situations and still constantly evolving in some way. In order to deeply comprehend their relations, first and foremost, historical background and perspectives of their relations have to be taken into account. Amid the 1960s, due to some politically arduous situations, social movements, the U.S has opted for the way of militaristic intervention on behalf of its national or homeland security in the backyards.

At that time, the U.S commenced the implementation of its hard power toward Latin American countries due to some complex situations; from one side the moral trepidation on dispersion of Communism, from another side the sparking issue of homeland security beyond borders and in its backyards. However, even in today’s U.S foreign policy, nothing has changed except the Obama’s revitalization of the diplomatic relations with Cuba in 2015. Basically, there is a clear fact that if the U.S mainly is eager to improve its relations with Latin American countries, before all else, it should draw conclusions from its historical mistakes which it did in past towards Latin America, especially amid the Cold War Era. The chosen antagonistic foreign policy toward Latin America during the Cold War Period should not be implemented or not be repeated again in the current time. Otherwise, the implementation of this kind of U.S-centric foreign policy towards the region at the present time have not gained anything at all, except arduous costs.

The big mistake itself arises from the U.S-centric approach toward Latin American countries. As the Secretary of the United States, John Kerry mentioned: Latin America is the backyard of the United States. The biggest flaw comes from this word which still keeps its so called U.S-centric hegemony and patronization over Latin American countries. Still, at that time, the U.S 35th President John F. Kennedy once said that Latin America is completely different issue and will be a critical one for a long time. Therefore, it could be said that if the U.S is really inclined to improve its relations with Latin America, first of all, it should take far more effective stances in its relations with Latin America. It is ostensibly that there are some overarching matters of the U.S foreign policy with respect to Latin America that could be improved. Even on this day, the processes and occasions happened in the 1960s, have the same morality over the U.S approach respecting to the region. But in general, are there any alternative approaches toward the region which have to be undertaken by the U.S? Will the successful implementation of these stances do benefit both the United States and Latin America? In any case, there are some proposals and recommendations for the U.S that it could change its so called U.S centric or unilateralist foreign policy in a much more flexible way with regard to the region. In the following part, the pivotal proposals that should have to be taken by the U.S were listed.

1.Latin America as a real partner instead of backyard. Once Bill Clinton said “ People are more impressed by the power of our example rather than the example of our power. This word is the apparent proof of how the US could improve its foreign policy towards Latin America. Today’s international relations do not support the imperialistic and any other hegemonistic stances toward other countries. Instead, the effective operation of soft power not only could gain benefits for each sides (both for the U.S and Latin America) but also help the U.S to create the idea of a real partner instead of a backyard toward the region. What the U.S and Latin America will get from this real partnership is the moral reconciliation in any fields, including culture, economy, politics and others.

2.Bilateral or mutual interests than U.S centric interests and unilateralism. For the sake of reliable partnership, first and foremost, the U.S should stop to see the Latin America as a recipient of its dictated policy, instead, should evaluate the potential power and capacity of the region by considering it as both an economic and political counterpart. It is completely false of the U.S foreign policy, that even today it is far more prone to keep its hegemonistic spirit over the region. However, while mentioned above that it will not gain any benefits for the U.S with the exception of heavy costs. Therefore, the relations between them have to based on common interests and bilateral actions rather than unilateral ones (the practice of China has to be implemented).

3.Promoting less militaristic approaches to the security issues (less U.S-centric interests) instead to be involved more in the development of domestic diplomacy of the region. This proposal, in my opinion is the most effective one for the further development and revitalization process of the relations between the U.S and Latin America. To a large extent, the U.S should invest in and support the international and regional networks like NGO’s IGO’s and other civic associations. Because of the fact that via the transparent actions of these kind of networks within the Latin American society, the morally mutual perception and behaviors could be reached over the future development of the U.S and Latin American relations. It is undeniable fact that under the condition of the effective accomplishment of a public policy or to be exact, the domestic diplomacy (the practice of domestic diplomacy in the example of small states, namely Norway, Denmark and etc.) both the U.S and Latin America would be able to achieve the development of civil society in the region in order to fight against  terrorism, drug trafficking and organized crime, environmental degradation, natural resource and food scarcity at a bilateral level than unilateral level. Thus, by the effective apparatus system of domestic diplomacy, the both parties (the U.S and Latin America) could get the mutual understanding and accountability in their future relations.

4.More engagement rather than confrontation. (Positive sum strategy vs zero sum strategy). Before delving into the deep analysis of the U.S and Latin American relations from this conception, firstly, it is needed to underline the key elements of the engagement theory versus confrontation in order to identify what does the theory offers to us with respect to the U.S and Latin American relations. In any cases, the engagement is much more beneficial than the competition. Collaboration stands on the “win-win” proposition and is inclined to the mutual perceptions of the parties. However, the competition mainly focuses on the success of only one party and does not give a chance to another one. Therefore, the relationship between the U.S and Latin America should have to be characterized by the prism of the collaboration rather than competition, because both of them have a huge potential in order to participate in and get “win-win” position within the international system.

5.Mutual actions than unilateral ones on democracy, human rights, sciences, and energy security issues. (the concept of multidimensional partnership) This proposal offers the completely different way in the development of the U.S and Latin American relations. A multidimensional partnership can be considered as a further action in the U.S-:Latin American relations after the effective management system of public policy, meaning that it will be able to encompass science, energy field, democracy, and human rights. The concept at the same time will be able to take new prospects within the region by evolving fight against new threats including terrorism, drug trafficking, uncontrolled population growth, and migration. Hence, this concept could create an opportunity for both sides to reevaluate their relations, but this time on a multidimensional basis.

In conclusion, the U.S should avoid considering Latin America as a region for its antagonistic, patriotic and hegemonistic ideas, rather it should revise its angle of view and stances towards the region, and see it as a real partner for other countries which the U.S still do. During the sparking period of moral imperialism (mainly Cold War Era), what did the U.S win from its attitudes toward Latin America, to be honest, nothing, just loss of time? Although in some way they have been good economic counterpart toward each other. However heavy costs emanating from their relationship is much more than any good mutual benefits. What is truly required is the whole revision of the U.S foreign policy apparatus toward the region. Frankly speaking, if the U.S is eager to close its ties with Latin America, it is highly needed to review its foreign policy priorities toward the region. Otherwise, over high U.S-centric interests will remain for U.S itself, and will not achieve any gains from this relationship. Thus, the United States has yet to learn from its past. Only via non-interventionist, anti-confrontational, more equitable and flexible diplomacy, Latin America being considered as an American’s backyard will turn into to be a reliable partner and a neighbor region for the United States.

Ms. Nargiz Hajiyeva is an independent researcher from Azerbaijan. She is an honored graduate student of Vytautas Magnus University and Institute D'etudes de Politique de Grenoble, Sciences PO. She got a Bachelor degree with the distinction diploma at Baku State University from International Relations and Diplomacy programme. Her main research fields concern on international security and foreign policy issues, energy security, cultural and political history, global political economy and international public law. She worked as an independent researcher at Corvinus University of Budapest, Cold War History Research Center. She is a successful participator of International Student Essay Contest, Stimson Institute, titled “how to prevent the proliferation of the world's most dangerous weapons”, held by Harvard University, Harvard Kennedy School and an honored alumnus of European Academy of Diplomacy in Warsaw Poland. Between 2014 and 2015, she worked as a Chief Adviser and First Responsible Chairman in International and Legal Affairs at the Executive Power of Ganja. At that time, she was defined to the position of Chief Economist at the Heydar Aliyev Center. In 2017, Ms. Hajiyeva has worked as an independent diplomatic researcher at International Relations Institute of Prague under the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Czech Republic. Currently, she is pursuing her doctoral studies in Political Sciences and International Relations programme in Istanbul, Turkey.

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Who won the interaction with the “free press” at the Geneva Summit?

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Before the much anticipated Geneva Summit, it became clear that President Biden would not be holding a joint press conference with President Putin because Biden wanted to go speak to the “free press” after the meeting. This was Biden’s way to show Putin, to rub it into Putin’s face that in Russia the media is not free.

Then the day of the meeting came and it turned out that Biden had a list of pre-approved reporters “as usual” whose names only he had to call. And Biden told everyone to the dismay of not only Republicans but pretty much anyone, including the free press.

Then Biden had a hard time answering questions even from that list. When CNN’s Kaitlan Collins asked him a regular question along the lines of “why do you think this would work?”, Biden lost it and suggested that Collins did not belong in the journalistic profession.

Collin’s question was a softball question, in fact. It was not even a tough question according to international standards. It was a critical question from an American mainstream media point of view, assuming Biden as the good guy who just can’t do enough to stop the bad guy Putin.

It was not even a tough question and Biden still couldn’t handle it by mustering something diplomatic and intelligent that makes him look like he was in control. Biden is no Obama. We knew that already but he should be able to at least respond to a regular question with a regular answer.

If you think American mainstream media were mistreated at the Geneva Summit, you should have seen how the rest of the international and local media were treated at another venue, at the request of the American government. I already described what happened at the point where the Biden and Putin convoys were going to pass. You should have seen how we were treated, at the request of the US authorities, and how the Swiss authorities really played by the US’s drum. Later on, White House national security advisor Jake Sullivan said on CNN’s State of the Union that Biden gave Swiss companies exemptions from sanctions imposed on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

Biden refused a joint press conference with Putin because he wanted to rub the “free press” in Putin’s face. Well, Biden surely showed him. It was the other way around, in fact. Biden didn’t take questions from the other side. Putin took highly critical questions from American journalists and he did it like it was business as usual. Putin didn’t have a list of blocked or preapproved journalists from the other side, or people he dismissed on the spot. Russian journalists were in fact denied access to the venue, in front of Parc la Grange.

Supporters of Black Lives Matter like me naturally didn’t like the substance of Putin’s answers. President Putin attacked Black Lives Matter, even though ever since the Soviet times the treatment of black people has always been a highlight of Russian criticism of American society and values. It seems like President Putin doesn’t want a big, sweeping movement that would reform everything, so that the issues can persist and so that Putin can keep hammering on the same point over and over again. If one is truly concerned about rights and well-being, one has to be in support of the social justice movement trying to address the problems.

In fact, Putin’s approach to black people’s rights is a lot like the FBI’s view of the radical, violent far left: the FBI do not wish to address the violent elements which probably represent 5% of the whole movement, just so that the FBI can keep the issues alive and discredit the whole movement. One saw that the Capitol riots groups really calmed down as soon as the FBI stepped in but FBI director Chris Wray is not interested in doing the same with the violent radical left, precisely so that the issues can persist and the FBI can keep pointing to violent “Black identity” extremists. It is the FBI’ style to keep little nests of fire here and there, so that they can exploit or redirect them in their own preferred direction from time to time. Let’s not forget that the leader of the Proud Boys was actually an FBI informant for a long time, probably taking instructions from the FBI.

At the Geneva Summit, Putin also stated that he saw nothing criminal in the Capitol riots on 6 January that undermined democratic principles and institutions. That was an example of someone trying to use and support existing forces within American society in order to undermine it.

But the substance of Putin’s answers had nothing to do with the process of interacting with the “free press”. Putin took questions from everyone, Biden didn’t. Putin didn’t screen out or dismiss journalists from the other side, Biden did. Putin didn’t lash out on anyone suggesting that they should not be in that job. Biden did and he did it even to his own pre-approved list of media that he was supposed to like.

In terms of process, Putin passed the test and Biden couldn’t handle interacting with the free press even in very restricted, sanitized conditions. Despite what you think of each leader and their policies, it has to be said that Putin handled interacting with the media as business as usual, and Biden struggled in his interaction with the media. Even when Biden was reading from a teleprompter, even with a preapproved list of journalists and even when he was not in the same room as Putin, Biden still made mistakes and couldn’t handle it. Even when everything was chewed for him, Biden still couldn’t do it.

In fact, Biden looked more like an overwhelmed Kardashian abroad who had to have his hand held at any moment and less like the leader of the free world. First lady Jill Biden in fact did hold Biden’s hand on occasion and rushed him out of places like a child when the President seemed to wonder off in the wrong direction, such as at the G7 Summit in Cornwall. And that guy has the nuclear codes?

There have been concerns with Biden’s cognitive abilities. President Biden confused President Putin with President Trump, while reading from a teleprompter. What was remarkable is that Putin stated that he found Biden to be actually knowledgeable and prepared on the issues, and that Biden is actually not in a mental and cognitive decline contrary to mainstream understanding. While on the face of it, the statement sounded 100% positive and in defense of Biden, this was a very aggressive, veiled jab of the sort “many are saying that but I don’t think that”. Putin raised the doubt, gave Biden an evaluation and proved to be a total player.

In total, the bottom line of who won the interaction with the “free press” at the Geneva Summit was clear: Russia 1, the US 0.

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Joe Biden’s European vacations

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Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz

Joseph Biden, better known as Joe Biden, is an American politician from the Democratic Party who won last year’s presidential elections amid scandals and accusations of fraud. In his autobiography, Biden describes himself as a leading figure in determining US policy in the Balkans, and openly admits having convinced President Bill Clinton to intervene militarily in the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and becoming the main architect of NATO enlargement.

Here are just a few facts from his past that can shed light on the possible  line of actions that could be taken by America’s current President.

Biden is certainly no stranger to Balkan issues. In 1999, he played an important role in the administration of President Bill Clinton, when NATO bombed Yugoslavia without a UN resolution, an act of aggression that resulted in Kosovo being proclaimed an independent state and which is now home to the largest US military base in Europe – Camp Bondsteel.  In 1999, the current US president was one of the most outspoken supporters of the bombing of Yugoslavia, which is something he took pride in.

“I propose to bomb Belgrade. I propose to send American pilots and blow up all the bridges over the Drina River,” said Biden, then a US Senator.

On September 1, 1999, Senator Joseph Biden visited Bulgaria as a representative of the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, meeting with President Peter Stoyanov, Foreign Minister Nadezhda Mikhailova and local lawmakers. Biden has become a key figure in Bulgaria’s integration into the North Atlantic Alliance.

Today, after several years of lull, tensions in Ukraine are shooting up again.  At the close of 2013, a series of riots were provoked there eventually leading up to the 2014 coup and the subsequent conflict in the country’s eastern regions. During the armed confrontation, the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics were established, which to this day remain at loggerheads with Kiev. After a region-wide referendum, over 95 percent of the residents of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea announced their desire to reunite with Russia. The role of Washington in the violent overthrow of power in Ukraine was clearly visible. US officials openly supported the Maidan, and Senator John McCain met with future government officials. Victoria Nuland, then US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian affairs, publicly stated that Washington had allocated $5 billion to support democracy in Ukraine. She personally distributed food to “peaceful demonstrators”, many of whom later ended up on the Maidan with weapons in their hands. Nuland, who served as Assistant Secretary of State to three presidents: Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama, retired in 2017. Today, Biden is bringing her back into politics, nominating her to the post of Assistant Secretary of State for Political Affairs – the third most important in the State Department.

Biden visited Ukraine five times during and after the Maidan. The United States, along with Germany, Poland and France, forced the country’s then-President Viktor Yanukovych to make concessions to protesters, which quickly led to the government’s collapse. Immediately after the resignation of Yanukovych in February 2014, President Barack Obama appointed Biden as his official representative in Ukraine. A little later, Biden’s son, Hunter, was appointed to the board of directors of Ukraine’s Burisma gas company.

After the coup, the Americans took deep roots in Ukraine with their representatives appearing both in economic structures and in the government and special services. Years later, details of their work became available to the media. Former US President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudolph Giuliani said that he had managed to find witnesses and obtain documents demonstrating attempts to cover up violations of the law by Burisma and Hunter Biden’s involvement in the laundering of millions of dollars. Giuliani unveiled a scheme how $16 million, including $3 million “earned” by Biden Jr., had been withdrawn through a network of companies, a number of which were located in Cyprus. Other investigations initiated by the media have also revealed large flows of “dirty” money that was flowing from Ukraine through Latvia to Cyprus and other offshore companies such as Rosemont Seneca, founded by Hunter Biden and Devon Archer.

In April 2019, journalist John Solomon published a post in the American edition of Dakhil about how Joe Biden was helping his son in his business dealings after leaving the post of vice president and bragging to foreign policy experts that, as vice president, he had forced the dismissal of Ukraine’s chief prosecutor. Biden related how in March 2016 he threatened Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko that Washington would withdraw its $ 1 billion loan guarantees and drive the country into bankruptcy unless Attorney General Viktor Shokin was dismissed immediately. And dismissed Shokin was, accused of not being active enough in fighting corruption. However, when talking about his victory, Biden misses an important point. Prior to his dismissal, the attorney general had launched a large-scale audit of the Burisma mining company where Hunter Biden was working. According to the US banking system, between spring 2014 and autumn 2015, Hunter’s company Rosemont Seneca regularly received transfers from Burisma to the tune of about $166,000.

This whole story gives us an idea of what kind of a person Joe Biden really is  and the question is how he will behave in the future.

Even before Biden’s inauguration as president, media representatives and analysts predicted an aggravation of the military situation, an escalation of the conflict in Ukraine and an increase in US activity in the Balkans. In the spring of 2021, these predictions were confirmed, and the military rhetoric of the US administration began heat up. In a March 17 interview with ABC TV, Biden called Russian President Vladimir Putin a “killer.” Even during the Cold War, world leaders did not allow themselves such disrespect for one another. Similar statements from American politicians are often made against foreign leaders whom they want to overthrow or physically eliminate. A number of analysts believe that the absence of an apology from Washington indicates that such a statement was not accidental, but well thought out and comes as a new step in the information war against Russia.

The further development of events in the international arena appears more and more is scary each day. In the media and in public statements by a number of politicians the topic of possible military action is almost becoming “business as usual.” Therefore, the new American president’s personality and his inner circle is extremely important for understanding the future and assessing global risks around the world.

From our partner International Affairs

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The Private And Public Joe Biden: Belief And Policy

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Official White House Photo by Cameron Smith

Joe Biden supports abortion rights politically, a position conflicting with doctrine in the Catholic church.  Despite the pope issuing a warning to act with care, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is now ready to prepare a teaching document that could potentially bar Biden from receiving Holy Communion at mass.  A central sacrament during mass, Catholics believe that eating the consecrated wafer dipped in wine, representing the body and blood of Jesus Christ, unites them with their savior fortifying them to face evil temptations.

The USCCB vote to prepare the document was an overwhelming 168-55, and a committee of US bishops has been assigned the task.  Responding to questions, President Biden called it a private matter.  The document is expected to be ready in time for debate at the November bi-annual conference of US Catholic Bishops.

If that is one headache for Biden, another is in the offing.  Perhaps as a consequence of US policy towards Iran, the election of a hard-liner in Iran’s presidential election seems almost certain.  Judge Ebrahim Raisi, who is also Iran’s top judge, is on his way to victory on the basis of the votes counted so far.

The 60-year old cleric spent most of his life as a prosecutor until he was appointed Iran’s top judge in 2019.  He is fiercely loyal to his fellow clerics, particularly to Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader who has the final say in all matters.  All the same, the president does the administration and has significant input in both domestic and foreign policy.  Suffice to say, Raisi lost in a landslide to Hassan Rouhani, who sought accommodation with the West, in the previous election four years ago.

Having played hardball with Iran, the US is repeating itself with a Russia anxious for better relations.  Following the G7 meeting in Cornwall a week ago, President Biden flew to Geneva meeting President Putin at the Villa La Grange for a closely-watched summit.

Relations between the two countries have been tense following a series of events including the Russian annexation of Crimea.  The latter was transferred to Ukraine for administrative convenience when a connecting bridge was being constructed so that both ends of it would fall under the same authority.  The people of Crimea have no other connection with Ukrainians other than they were both part of the Soviet Union. 

Climate change, arms control, cyber security and American interest in jailed dissenters in Russia including Alexei Navalny .  Reading the riot act to Mr. Putin does little to further stability in relations.  Peace is not a problem among like-minded countries with a commonality of interests, it is a challenge when the parties are rivals, nuclear armed, and capable of blowing up the world.  Mr. Biden may be proud of his performance but is he able to accept the challenge, for if not where does it leave the rest of us …

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