Prospects for the New Year in Latin America

US and Latin America: Overview for 2006; Perspectives for 2007
By James Petras
Dec 21, 2006, 09:53

Introduction: Escalation of Warfare

To understand US-Latin American relations this year and its likely trajectory in 2007 it is obligatory to consider three dimensions: 1) the global context of US-LA relations; 2) internal dynamics of the US and 3) the real practical political-economic consequences of the 2006 elections in Latin America.

US imperial policy continues to pursue military victories in Iraq and Afghanistan, to give unconditional support to Israel’s war against the elected Palestinian Government and to threaten a direct or Israeli attack on Iran. In other words, the prolonged, costly and inconclusive wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Palestine during 2006 will continue in 2007. Further military escalation, includes increased US troops and spending for wars in the Middle East; an extra $800 million USD in addition to the annual $3 billion USD for Israeli war plans against Lebanon, Palestine and especially Iran. Those commentators who interpreted US policy via public opinion polls, electoral processes (the victory of the Democrats), advisory reports (Baker’s Iraq Study Group) and casualty rates in Iraq, and predicted a ‘gradual’ withdrawal, failed to understand the logic of the White House’s political strategy. For the Bush regime, the military failures are a result of the application of insufficient power: what is necessary, they argue, is greater numbers of soldiers and bigger military budgets (BBC 12/16/06).

Polarization

Both in the United States, Latin America and in the world at large, profound and deepening divisions are driving policy and provoking increasing conflicts. The lines of division in the United States on the fundamental questions of confrontation or negotiation in the Middle East and Latin America cut across the two major parties, and the liberal-conservative spectrum. On the one side the White House, backed by pro-war Democrats, Republicans, the Presidents of the Major Jewish Organizations, right-wing veteran groups and neo-conservative intellectuals and the majority of the corporate mass media. On the other side, minorities in the major parties and mass media, the majority of public opinion, sectors of the active and retired military officers, establishment intellectual and prominent political critics of the Zionist lobby and war policies like Brzezinski, James Carter, James Baker among others.

Similar divisions appear with regard to Latin American policy. The White House, backed by the Cuban (exile) lobby, the Pentagon and a minority of right-wing ideologues and business groups favor forceful pressure and intervention against Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia and support of illegitimate President Calderon, the Santa Cruz separatists in Bolivia and other authoritarian extremists in the region. In varying degrees of opposition, stand liberal and conservative congress-members backed by agro-business exporters, tourists agencies, a majority of public opinion and sectors of the State Department headed by Undersecretary for Latin American Affairs, Shannon, who support greater emphasis on diplomacy, negotiations and a ‘two-track’ approach.

Within Latin America similar profound divisions emerged in 2006 which will deepen in 2007. In Mexico, the minority Calderon regime faces major opposition from the AMLO coalition, Oaxaca popular assemblies, the trade unions and social movements. As he proceeds to deepen the liberalization of the economy and he militarizes the country to implement his program, the polarization will deepen.

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