“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Monday, November 19, 2007

The US Will Regret the Bush Legacy on Latin America

This article by the Council on Hemispheric Affairs does a reasonable job of presenting a synopsis on the results of the US-Latin un-policy.

Pluralism Bursts into the Western Hemisphere

  • While Russia, Europe and China are wooing Latin America and the Caribbean, the Monroe Doctrine now becomes the “Putin, Zapatero and Chinese – Corollary”
  • Iran’s increased presence in the region may lead to bad press, but for now only shows increased investments
  • The “Great Game” of political and economic influence is set to be played in the southern hemisphere
No one is arguing that Latin America and the Caribbean have become a priority matter for international diplomacy, save for the U.S., which has witnessed a massive retreat of Washington's vigilance for what it once insisted were its longtime national interests and influence in the hemisphere. Concentrating on its "War on Terror" has resulted in a detour of the U.S. military and diplomatic corps to a series of sorties, like Afghanistan, Iraq, and now, likely enough, to Iran. The 1823 Monroe Doctrine is no longer relevant as nations like Russia, the People's Republic of China as well as the European Union (and its individual members) increase their influence in the Western Hemisphere. This penetration is due to the fact that numerous hemispheric countries are themselves looking to diversify their pool of allies and trading partners by contracting ties to other nations besides the U.S., with Venezuela being at the core of this movement.

From Brussels to Moscow and Beijing, not to mention other emerging middle powers like India, it seems as though everyone wants a piece of Latin America these days. With Washington's grip on the region loosening, there is an increase in opportunity for potentially valuable non-traditional relationships – Iran's aggressive courting of Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia and Nicaragua is one example– demonstrating that the Western Hemisphere has become a multipolar continent, with Washington no longer being the exclusive choice, and with diplomatic initiatives originating from around the globe.

Enter the Dragon
China has diverse interests in the Western Hemisphere, and although most of them are primarily economic, there are pressing political factors at play as well. Of key importance to Beijing is its quest for new product markets, in combination with creating multiple portals through which it can import the mineral resources and produce what it needs to maintain a booming economy. The most recent example is the $10 billion contract signed between Beijing and Caracas to search for crude oil reserves in Venezuela's oil-rich Orinoco belt. This arrangement occurred shortly after Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez expelled a number of Western oil companies from the country, including Exxon and Conoco, for failing to take a minority stake in their Orinoco oil holdings.

Another reason for China's interest in the Western Hemisphere has to do with the status of neighboring Taiwan. Beijing and Taipei's hostile attitude toward each other and quest for diplomatic recognition has been transferred to the Americas, as both governments attempt to gain new allies in order to bolster support for their positions on the issue of Beijing's claim to the island of Taiwan. Inevitably, Beijing is winning its diplomatic and public relations showdown with Taipei, due to its geopolitical weight. While Taiwan has gained the formal recognition of a number of countries in this hemisphere, it subsequently lost some of this support. This is being achieved as a result of an "open checkbook" policy for economic aid, access to the Chinese market, and the availability of loans for the disadvantaged economies of the Americas. The critical factor here is that China has been able to decisively beat out its adversary, with Taipei having diplomatic ties with only a handful of countries in the Western Hemisphere, most of which have only marginal importance other than their ability to cast a vote in international forums.

An example of this "financially mercenary" is the Caribbean island of Dominica, which cut ties with Taiwan in 2004. According to a report by the BBC, after the decision of Dominican Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit to cut off Taipei, Beijing was prepared to hand over more than $100 million in aid over the next five years to the now blessed Caribbean island.

The Russian Bear
Russia has just begun to regain a privileged position of influence in the Western Hemisphere, a status once enjoyed during the days of the Cold War when, as a result of its close ties with Havana, it was able to maintain close relations with Nicaragua, Grenada, and Allende's Chile. Moscow also had the sympathy of military governments like Peru during the Juan Velasco Alvarado rule (1968-1975). Today, Russia is attempting to come up with a new strategy to recover a resource-drilling position of influence in the hemisphere, and has focused on the military export industry as its line of attack. During the Cold War several Latin American governments purchased Soviet weaponry, and today are familiar with utilizing this type of equipment and prefer its use (not to mention Russian weapons are currently very inexpensive) over having to purchase them from other manufacturers (i.e. France, Israel). For example, Peru is in the process of upgrading its Soviet-era Mi-8 helicopters, having placed its order with Moscow.

Moscow has also capitalized on non-U.S. friendly countries like Venezuela to increase its client base. Last year Venezuela purchased $3 billion of military equipment from the Vladimir Putin regime. This summer, during a trip to Moscow, Chávez ordered five submarines, with the option of buying four more in the near future. In addition, Russia's Izhevsk Manufacturing Plant has reported that it will build two factories in Venezuela to manufacture Kalashnikov rifle-type AK-103 as well as ammunition for it. The objective is to have both plants completed by 2010.

However, it is doubtful that military sales alone will be enough for Russia to once again cement anything like the position of influence in the Western hemisphere that it episodically had in the post-World War II period. Trade is still somewhat lagging between the two sides of the Pacific, and there have been instances of rapprochement between Kremlin officials and a number of hemispheric leaders. Cuba has yet to receive anything approaching a major volume of Russian investment and economic aid, as it once did, although there is always the possibility that this situation may change in the near future. There have been some important visits by high level Kremlin officials, like President Vladimir Putin's trip to Cuba in 2000, as well as several meetings between Putin and Chávez in Moscow, however, these ties have to be amplified in order to make Russia into a bigger player in Latin America. Meanwhile, the region increasingly looks to Moscow for both friendship and, more importantly, trade and investment.

European Unity for All
Understanding Europe's presence in Latin America and the Caribbean may require two separate streams of analysis. On the one hand, the Europe Union has a common policy towards the Americas, and, at the same time, individual European countries have their own foreign policies and interests in the region. When it comes to the EU, Brussels has focused on greater economic and political interaction with the region's major blocs, namely MERCOSUR, the Andean Community of Nations (CAN), and the Rio Group. In fact, the EU has already been discussing a free-trade agreement with CAN for a number of months. In recent weeks, Venezuela has been placed in the spotlight as President Chávez is looking to possibly return to CAN after leaving the bloc in 2006. Chávez is not in favor of an FTA between CAN and the EU, so it is yet to be seen how these feints will transpire. In the meantime, CAN has scheduled its second round of negotiations with the EU in Brussels this coming December. Additionally, the EU has pursued free trade talks with countries like Mexico and Chile.

Individual European governments are pursuing their own foreign policy initiatives vis-à-vis the Western Hemisphere in line with their own national interests. France has increased its cooperation in recent years with Brazil. Likewise, Britain continues to make use of its historical influence on the English-speaking Caribbean, for example, maintaining a military base in Belize (the British Army Training Support Unit Belize – BATSUB). The goal of the base is to provide jungle training to British troops, with the additional objective of protecting the sovereignty of the country, which has had a historical territorial dispute with neighboring Guatemala. In addition, British naval ships regularly patrol the Caribbean and aid with drug-enforcement operations. In 2005, the frigate HMS Cumberland stopped a vessel off Nicaragua's Caribbean coast, which was carrying two tons of cocaine.

In addition, Spain and Portugal, in an attempt to project their presence in Latin America, encouraged the creation of the Ibero-American Secretaria (SEGIB) in 2006. The organization is based in Madrid and scored something of a coup after the distinguished Uruguayan official Enrique Iglesias was selected as its first secretary-general in 2005. Iglesias brought a significant amount of prestige to the organization as he is a former president of the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, Uruguay's foreign minister from 1985-1988 and also served as the head of the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. Nevertheless, it is yet to be seen if SEGIB can make much progress in bringing both sides of the Atlantic effectively together.

In early November, the XVII Ibero-American Summit took place in Santiago, Chile. The meeting was not without controversy as at one point King Juan Carlos of Spain told President Chavez "por qué no te callas?" (why don't you shut up?). Ironically, SEGIB's secretary Iglesias declared in a press conference that the summit had been a success. The next meeting will take place in October 2008 in San Salvador, El Salvador.

Holland's presence in the region is mainly a result of its connection to its former colonies of Suriname and the islands of Aruba (Curacao and Saba off the coast of South America in the Caribbean), as well as St. Maarten, which it shares with France. Finally there are some European nations that particularly are at odds with one or more Latin American countries, especially with Fidel Castro's Cuba. The Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia are famous for their rejection of any effort to be made to moderate the current hostility that these former Soviet satellites currently have towards Cuba, which has rendered them a gaggle of Castro bashers serving on European bodies.

The Growing Persian Shadow
Iran is another country that has a mixed diplomatic-trade and security relationship with a number of regional countries, with Venezuela immediately coming to mind. Recently, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad caused an uproar in New York when he visited the UN and gave a fiery speech after being booed during a presentation he made at Columbia University. After his stopover in Caracas, Ahmadinejad traveled to Bolivia, prompting rumors of a possible Caracas-Tehran-Sucre/La Paz alliance. In order to explain his meeting with the Iranian leader, Bolivian President Evo Morales declared "we are from the culture of dialogue and life, without marginalization and discrimination. We are about unity [and] solidarity."

Visits by Ahmadinejad and other Iranian officials to the Western Hemisphere are examples of Tehran's growing presence in the continent. In early November, Iranian Minister of Commerce Masood Mirkazemi traveled to Havana and signed an agreement to form a joint shipping company between the two governments.

During his trip to Bolivia, the first made by an Iranian president, Ahmadinejad pledged to invest $1 billion over the next five years to improve the Bolivian economy. According to September 27 Associated Press file, "Bolivia-Iran trade can hardly go anywhere but up. Bolivia exported nothing to Iran between 2000 and 2006, and Iranian exports to Bolivia totaled just $10 million last year, according to government statistics, down from $24 million a year earlier." Closer relations between La Paz and Tehran have more than raised eyebrows among Bolivia's opposition parties. There are rumors that there may be a deal between both countries for the mining of Bolivia's uranium, which opposition senators would try to block, if true. "No one has assured us that Bolivian uranium will be used for benign purposes, so we cannot take risks," said Senator Arturo Murillo of Unidad Nacional.

In Ahmadinejad's September trip to Caracas, he met with Chávez and the two leaders signed three cooperation accords regarding the petrochemical, agricultural and automobile sectors. In addition, as reported by Latin America News Digest, Venezuela's state-run oil giant Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA) and Iranian state-run energy firm Petropars have agreed to set up a 50/50 joint venture named Venirogc. The article explains that the goal is to challenge the supremacy of oil and gas giants Chevron, Royal Dutch Shell and Eni by creating international oil and gas enterprises along the entire value chain, from production to retail merchandizing through gasoline stations.

Additional Players
Brazil's increasing links to South Africa and India have aided both emerging middle-rank powers to gain a foothold in the Western Hemisphere. India also has a growing research-based presence in Guyana, which it gained by deploying historical ethnic ties, and has also used a diplomatic offensive to permit it to step up investments in mineral-rich Peru.

Pluralism in the Americas
Washington's semi-divorce from Latin America and the Caribbean has been the catalyst that has allowed other nations and international organizations to move rapidly into the regions. What can be seen now is the possibility of the creation of a new system in the Western Hemisphere, with the U.S. becoming no longer the omnipotent and omnipresent player. Washington may have to adjust to being one of many actors in the hemisphere along with Beijing, Moscow, Brussels and, oddly enough, Tehran.

In effect, a dramatically pluralistic hemisphere is in the making, which cannot help but profoundly affect the inter-American system, with the Organization of American States—which has always been regarded as Washington's protégé—losing ground to one or more of a variety of other possible regional blocks, like CARICOM, the Rio Group, the Andean Community of Nations, as well as Chávez' Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA).

Caribbean Security
While important from a geo-strategic point of view, the Caribbean does not usually attract the international media coverage it deserves. In spite of this fact, security forces from major powers like the U.S. and Britain continue to maintain security a presence in the area, especially as the Caribbean has become a major point for the shipment of illegal drugs coming from South America on their way to Europe.

London's BATSUB provides specialist training for over 4,000 British troops per year and offers back-up support to the Belize Defense Force (BDF). The British base also regularly receives visits by British vessels, like the Cumberland, that take part in anti-narcotics operations in the Caribbean Sea, often in conjunction with the U.S.

Washington aggressively has pressed the relatively unknown but very important "Shiprider Agreement" with a number of Caribbean countries. The objective of this pact is to combat illegal drug trafficking, arms smuggling and transnational crime by increasing cooperation between U.S. security forces (particularly the Coast Guard) and Caribbean governments. From the onset, the "Shiprider Agreement" has been surrounded by controversy; for example, there have been confrontations between the U.S., Jamaica.
According to a February 2004 article in the Jamaica Gleaner, “in 1996, then U.S. President Bill Clinton’s administration was on the verge of imposing financial sanctions against Jamaica because it was dissatisfied with Jamaica’s co-operation on narcotics. Sanctions were eventually averted after the crisis prompted a Caribbean summit in Barbados with Clinton in 1997.” Jamaica and Washington signed a new “Shiprider” accord in 2004.

On January 26, 2006 an article was published in Caribbean Net News, which included comments by the U.S. ambassador to Suriname, Marsha Barnes. In the article the American diplomat said that so far, there are no tangible results from the proposed cooperation since Suriname doesn't have a Coast Guard. The diplomat noted that agreements with other Caribbean nations were exercised differently. Some Caribbean nations' vessels patrolling off-shore Puerto Rico have U.S. law enforcement officers on board, while in other instances Caribbean law enforcement personnel are on board U.S. Coast Guard vessels.

Additionally, the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), in coordination with the U.S. Coast Guard, sponsors a series of military exercises held with Caribbean nations, known as TRADEWINDS. The May 2007 TRADEWINDS exercises were held in Belize with the participation of the British Royal Marines. It is noteworthy to mention that the Caribbean has strived to achieve independence when it comes to security issues. In the late 1970s and 1980s, the need for a collective response to security threats led to the creation of the Regional Security System. This concept first appeared in concrete terms through a Memorandum of Understanding which was signed in October 1982 between Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia and Barbados, in order to provide for "mutual assistance on request." The RSS' first deployment was a part of the U.S. invasion of Grenada in 1983. Grenada itself joined the RSS in 1985.

Who Supports Who?
In spite of the growing presence of extra-hemispheric nations in the Western Hemisphere, it might be an exaggeration to assume that exclusive alliances have been cemented between any Latin American or Caribbean nations with particular European or Asian powers. Brazil has developed close relations with India and South Africa (through the tri-national organization known as IBSA), which is perhaps the closest there is to an inter-hemispheric alliance at the moment. In addition, Britain has a strong relation with its former colonies, but at the same time, the Caribbean states have had success in forming their own identity through regional organizations like CARICOM.

Mexico's growing closeness with the EU, China and India on trade issues will continue to be dwarfed by its relationship with the U.S., its major trading partner by far. The same can be said about Central America and the Dominican Republic, after the ratification by all members of CAFTA-DR. President Chávez has turned to Russia as a weapons supplier, but he had no problems granting China, Russia's competitor in the quest for overseas resources, a multi-billion dollar deal for oil exploration.

An issue that needs to be addressed is that of shifts and movements in inter-state relations on the continent and the search for external alliances. Brazil, with is global ambitions, has teamed up with other regional powers in other parts of the world that share similar interests. Venezuela turned to Russia for military equipment because when requested, the U.S. would not sell the Chávez administration spare parts to repair the country's squadron of aging F-16 fighter planes. Adjoining countries like Peru, Uruguay and Paraguay, have yet to feel any need to seek stable extra-hemispheric alliances.

Another condition that deserves to be considered is the fear that allowing too many foreign companies or foreign influence in a country will be detrimental to local economies or create neo-colonial scenarios. For example, some Caribbean analysts still bitterly recall CARICOM's distrust which was directed against France's then-Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, with some officials of the Caribbean organization alleging that he was one of the main plotters of the Haitian 2004 coup that overthrew President Jean Bertrand Aristide.

It is unrealistic to believe that a Russian or Asian military base may be located in the Western Hemisphere anytime soon. However, it is necessary to keep in mind that non-American military bases in Latin America and the Caribbean do exist. One example is the aforementioned British military training facility in Belize. France has also deployed members of its Foreign Legion to French Guyana, an overseas department, for training exercises and to protect the European Space Agency spacecrafts which are launched from there. Furthermore, the status of U.S. facilities in the region is no longer secure or, for that matter, sacred. Ecuador's President Rafael Correa adamantly insists that once the lease to the U.S. facility in Manta expires in 2009, Quito will refuse to renew it. Meanwhile Mexican authorities have stressed that no U.S. military forces will be allowed in the country as part of the newly signed Merida initiative.

El Gran Juego
Like the struggle for influence in Central Asia in the 19th century between the Russian and British empires, which was referred to at the time as the Great Game, Latin America and the Caribbean have entered into their own version of this quest, with non-hemispheric players like Russia, China and the European Union all attempting to win influence in the region. This translates into investment, access to resources and local markets; however it is not a winner-takes-all type of game. One thing is clear: for the rest of the world, efforts at associating with Latin America and the Caribbean signifies the region's emergence as an important political and economic force with potential for further growth, which is even far beyond what Washington is now able to conceptualize.

This analysis was prepared by COHA Research Fellow Alex Sánchez

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  1. "No one is arguing that Latin America and the Caribbean have become a priority matter for international diplomacy, save for the U.S., which has witnessed a massive retreat of Washington's vigilance for what it once insisted were its longtime national interests and influence in the hemisphere. Concentrating on its "War on Terror" has resulted in a detour of the U.S. military and diplomatic corps to a series of sorties, like Afghanistan, Iraq, and now, likely enough, to Iran."

    The system is slow - and unsurprisingly crisis-driven - but the shift is underway. South and East.

  2. Energy, infrastructure and Latin America should be the focus of the next administration. Let Europe worry about the Middle East.

  3. When we decided it was in our national interest to secure the oil lines, we were paying what, $16 a barrel? Now that we have spent a trillion or so to make the ME better, we are within a spit of $100. Imagine the future prospects for a CEO that had that return on investment.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. "War on Terror" has resulted in a detour of the U.S. military and diplomatic corps to a series of sorties, like Afghanistan, Iraq, and now, likely enough, to Iran."
    My Ass!

  7. Fortress Americas.

    500 million folks that could stay on top of the heap for at least a century, if they play their cards right.

    But defend the Monroe Doctrine, Team43 cannot defend the US border in a systematic and legal manner, let alone a Hemisphere.

    They allow anarchy to rule, through neglect and hubris.

  8. Trish:
    Running around in circles screaming:
    "The Revolutionary Guards are an NGO, you Idiot!

    There WAS no other plan for the non-occupation of Iraq!!!

    Vote Paul!

    ...fade to interference.

  9. Paul is right about one thing. It is absurd that there are some American airman who are serving on the same UK airbase that their fathers and grandfathers served on.

  10. 'Rat: check out the thread before last:
    Steve had a link to a piece showing Mushie has deconstructed the Paki's abilty to defend itself.
    ...just like Bush

  11. We are the Whirled!

    Pelosi tries to force SALVATION ARMY to hire people who can't speak English...
    "If it is not relevant, it is discriminatory, it is gratuitous, it is a subterfuge to discriminate against people based on national origin," says Rep. Charles Gonzalez of Texas, one of several Hispanic Democrats in the House who threatened to block Ms. Pelosi's attempts to curtail the Alternative Minimum Tax unless she killed the Alexander amendment.
    The confrontation on the night of Nov. 8 was ugly. Members of the Hispanic Caucus initially voted against the rule allowing debate on a tax bill that included the AMT "patch," which for a year would protect some 23 million Americans from being kicked into a higher income tax bracket.

    Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a moderate from Maryland, was beside himself. Congressional Quarterly reports that he jabbed his finger on the House floor at Joe Baca, the California Democrat who chairs the Hispanic Caucus, and yelled, "How dare you destroy this party? This will be the worst loss in 10 years."

    Mr. Baca was having none of it. "You see this on the [voting] board?," he yelled back. "This is against me. This is against me personally." Luckily for Democrats, C-Span's microphones did not pick up the exchange. But it was audible to reporters in the press gallery. They also heard Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Illinois say that English-only efforts were symbolic of "bigotry and prejudice" against those who speak other languages.

    After testy negotiations, the Hispanic Caucus finally agreed to let the tax bill proceed after extracting a promise from Ms. Pelosi that the House will not vote on the bill funding the Justice and Commerce Departments unless the English-only protection language is dropped. "There ain't going to be a bill" with the Alexander language, Mr. Baca has told reporters.

  12. Or Korea, duece.

    Grandpa Rat was there in the 1950's
    I was there in the 1980's
    Jr was there in 2005

    Fifty three years of guard duty, in a country that no longer needs the "boots on the ground" assistance to defend it's frontier.

    Not at a time when the US frontier security is as porous and as functional as a screen door on a submarine.

  13. Open immigration is the Ticket!
    Trish says so!
    Bend over Dhimmi!

  14. Doug was there in the 60's:
    Now we just need somebody to cover the 70's.

  15. Obambi and the debate dominatrix.

    Stick this in your state's rights riff, 'Rat:

    "He went through a whole faux- bemused riff on Hillary’s driver’s license twists without ever uttering her name:

    “First, she was for the idea, and supported Governor Spitzer, who wanted to give driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants.
    Then she was against the idea.
    Then she was for and against the idea.

    And then finally she said it should be decided on a state-by-state basis.

    This is the only time in her career that she’s ever decided anything should be decided on a state-by-state basis.

    You know something? She picked out absolutely the wrong one.

    I mean, this is one of the areas that is given to the federal government to deal with under our Constitution, the borders of the United States, immigration.”

    Rudy laced his speech with faith references, including the assertion that America has “a divinely inspired role in the world” and a mission to “save a civilization from Islamic terrorism.”

    Hillary has her work cut out for her. Rudy will not be so easy to spank. "

  16. Post-Debate Questions
    [Bill Bennett]
    Why is everyone saying Hillary Clinton's performance was so boffo and her answer on licenses to illegals — "No" — was so cool when it directly contradicted her answer earlier this month? This is what Kerry did — in favor before he was opposed — that we flogged him for for the duration of the campaign.

    Why isn't this an anchor?

    And why right now aren't Republican candidates shouting about immigration from the rooftops and putting Dems in a box?
    Obviously, Bill missed Rudy's speech!

  17. Steny Hoyer:
    " "How dare you destroy this party? This will be the worst loss in 10 years."

    Mr. Baca was having none of it. "You see this on the [voting] board?," he yelled back. "This is against me. This is against me personally." Luckily for Democrats, C-Span's microphones did not pick up the exchange. But it was audible to reporters in the press gallery.

    They also heard Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Illinois say that English-only efforts were symbolic of "bigotry and prejudice" against those who speak other languages
    Luckily for Hoyer, Bush will save the day for the Dems, come Hell or High Water.

  18. It scares them all, doug.
    The answer to the problems is not one that any of them are willing to hear, let alone expouse.

    The border has to be secured, stopping the illegal flow.

    Then those illegals here, the great majority of them, have to be regularized. To include IDs, licenses etc. We cannot have 20 million people living in the shadows, in a "gray economy", outside the law.

    Then some rational increase in the numbers of immigrants allowed in will have to be made, if the economy does begin to suffer from the lack of "wage slave" labor.

    But those solutions rile the radicals on each side of the aisle.

    Shouts of Gulags, Iron Curtains and Amnesty fills the room.

    But the US invited those folk into the country, we have a common law marriage type of affiliation with them, now.

    Squatter's Rights, I believe they're refered to. Besides, we need the Mexi oil as much as we utilize the Mexican labor. We cannot divorce 'em, even if we wanted to.

    The community property split would "wipe US out".

  19. Yeah, but you left out the number that would self-deport with workplace enforcement of the minimum wage, if nothing else.
    Many are here that don't need to be in a Fair, Free Market Economy.
    (with no more wage slaves, the invisible hand would produce other solutions)

  20. Trish:
    Running around in circles screaming:
    "The Revolutionary Guards are an NGO, you Idiot!

    - Doug

    Well they are.

    The future leaders of Iran, to boot.

    Can use that to our benefit.

    Or not.

  21. "But the US invited those folk into the country, we have a common law marriage type of affiliation with them, now."
    One outlaw president does not represent "The Us" for the last 10 million, plus Felons!
    They are his and his alone, and he will be gone but not forgotten.

  22. Gee, Trish:
    I thot you said we were going to war with them!

    Paulite "Logic?"

    otherwise known as: BS!

  23. Very Hillaryesque tho:
    Might as well take both sides if it advances the "argument."

  24. *heads to Spanish class*

    - cutler

    Back to the future.

  25. "I thot you said we were going to war with them!"

    Not me.

  26. Who pissed in your Wheaties today, Doug?

  27. "Concentrating on its "War on Terror" has resulted in a detour of the U.S. military and diplomatic corps to a series of sorties, like Afghanistan, Iraq, and now, likely enough, to Iran."
    You are a waste of pixels!

  28. We could utilize that in the beginning, but there would be a vast number of them that will not leave volunteerily.
    Many that are property owners, having bought homes. Many have extended family, here, with nothing to "return" to.

    There will have to be a balance found, as each "Immigration victory" whether the New York licenses or "Comprehensive Reform" defeat worsens the problem.

    The border is still open, the immigrants still migrating. The problem worsening by the day, with not a compromise or solution in sight.

    So, each of these "successes" just allows the situation to worsen, on the ground.
    Not licensing the illegals in NY, that does not get them out from behind the steering wheel, just assures US they remain uninsured.

  29. W/O Bush, the fence would have been built.
    Worst POTUS in my lifetime.

  30. "Concentrating on its "War on Terror" has resulted in a detour of the U.S. military and diplomatic corps to a series of sorties, like Afghanistan, Iraq, and now, likely enough, to Iran."

    Oh, well, here...

    "Concentrating on its "War on Terror" has resulted in a detour of the U.S. military and diplomatic corps to a series of sorties, like Afghanistan, Iraq..."

    Happy now, Doug?

  31. Gee, that's the closest you've come to admitting you were WRONG!

  32. (NOT that you have not had hundreds of opportunities)

  33. "One thing is clear: for the rest of the world, efforts at associating with Latin America and the Caribbean signifies the region's emergence as an important political and economic force with potential for further growth, which is even far beyond what Washington is now able to conceptualize."
    Yeah, but W and "Osama" say IRAQ is the Central Front in the WOT!
    (Meanwhile, Dr Z is still multipliorgasming away.)
    Great Find, Deuce!

  34. This comment has been removed by the author.

  35. Correct me if I'm wrong: Iraq *IS* the central front in the WOT.

  36. Abandoning any idea of an economic Monroe Doctrine, or a soft power extention of a Latin American Marshall Plan. Team43 has left that to Hugo to fund and promote.

    Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and the King cry out ...

    No time to tend our backyard, there are adventures a foot, in the lands that broke Alexander.

    Time enough to yet become Great
    A Legacy awaits

    While, here is a tale of how the ChiComs are expanding their trade network throughout Latin America. Which we support, in the name of "Globalism".
    "Costa Rica has Huge Trade Opportunities with China"

  37. Crystal had her sis Peggy Sue there too.

    Crystal--'Well Peggy Sue, what's new around your house?'

    (This is all said in that Kentucky hollow drawl)

    PS--'A newly wed couple moved in on the right next door. I got up one morning, and the new bride was out hanging the groom's underwear on the clothesline, singing, "Sugar in the morning, sugar in the evening, sugar at supper time." And then later in the day the old woman on the left was out putting her husband's underwear on her line, singing "Memories, memories.."

    And towards evening, I was out taking my husbands underwear off the line, folding them nice, doing what I do, and my husband came out, and saw me sprinkling some stuff on them and says, "Peggy Sue, why are you putting Desenex in my underwear?"

    And I say, "Why honey, that's not Desenex, that's Miracle Grow!"


  38. The world might be a better place but for This muck up.

    Maybe we'll be looking at Iranian missils and warheads in Venezuela, pointed our way, one of these fine days.

  39. Heard on the radio, Chavez is selling off the Venezuelan owned refineries, stations in the United States. Don't know the truth of it.

  40. The United States will regret Bush legacy on Iran. Debka probably has this one about right, alas.

  41. FOX is all over "Turning" the Pashtun Tribal Leaders

  42. Citgo has delayed refinery upgrades required by the U.S. government to produce cleaner fuels. Some analysts say this raises a risk of Citgo's not being able to finish in time, because projects are becoming more expensive and materials and labor harder to come by.

    Citgo has sold interests in pipelines and terminals, and last year got rid of its share of a refinery co-owned with another refiner. Now it is selling its asphalt business, for $550 million.

    Citgo had started that operation in 1991 to refine super-heavy grades of Venezuelan oil into material to coat U.S. roads and rooftops. Citgo Asphalt Refining Co. became the largest asphalt supplier on the East Coast, and Citgo set plans to expand it further. After Mr. Boué arrived at the Citgo board, the plans were scrapped, former executives say. Now, instead of making asphalt out of a sludgy crude called boscan, Venezuela mixes the sludgy material with light crude and sells it to China, a former executive says.

    The strategy has faltered. Shipping crude to China is costly, and using valuable light oil to thin out boscan results in a mixed crude that doesn't fetch high prices. Boscan inventories are piling up. Mr. Boué says the accumulation is seasonal and isn't related to the decision not to expand the asphalt refiner.

    By largely avoiding U.S. investment, Citgo didn't fully exploit a refining boom of which other companies took full advantage. Citgo's capacity barely grew, and then declined 12% with last year's sale of a co-owned refinery. Citgo found itself having to buy gasoline on the open market to supply some gas stations. So last year it shed about 1,800 of the franchised stations. They now total about 8,000, down about 50% from their 1990s peak.

    Citgo's strategy is in sharp contrast to that of, for instance, the big refiner Valero Energy Corp. Valero expanded its capacity twentyfold during the past few years' boom, acquiring numerous additional refineries. Says one former high executive at Citgo: "The sad thing is, we had a chance to become the Valero of the refining industry, and we missed it."

    This commentary was originally published by The Wall Street Journal, on November 16, 2007;


  43. Oil Minister: "No specific plan against CITGO or the North American nation"

    Caracas Daily Journal (Vincent Bevins): According to PDVSA, some assets held abroad compromise Venezuelan commercial policies. The company is reconsidering the role and necessity of the assets it holds abroad.

    With the aim of optimizing its operations, this evaluation has resulted in the sale of two asphalt refineries and one terminal located in the United States.

    Oil & Energy Minister and president of PDVSA, Rafael Ramirez, explained that "all assets are currently being evaluated, not only those in the United States, but in Europe as well … there is no specific plan against CITGO or the North American nation."

    "It's that we have an amount of businesses and activities that don't make sense for Venezuela. Quite the opposite ... they compromise our commercial policy. They limit us."

    The Bolivarian government had announced years ago that a phase of revision of foreign properties controlled by PDVSA would begin.

    Though the cash flows are large and constant, approximately 90% of them are used for the acquisition of crude for processing in the same refineries.

  44. APNewsAlert
    11-19-2007 5:04 AM

    JERUSALEM (Associated Press) -- Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office says Israeli Cabinet has approved release of 441 Palestinian prisoners.

  45. Not only that, it was reported somewhere yesterday that Olmert is caving on the return of palestinians, promising to take some back. Is Olmert an islamist in disguise?

  46. An Israeli patriot, bob.
    Elected leader of a sectarian parlimentarian government.

    People getting the government they deserve.

  47. Mon Nov 19, 10:50:00 AM EST,
    If you explain how we use the Revolutionary Guard (an NGO, remember) to our advantage, I'll explain what they were talking about wrt Iraq/WOT.

  48. Bobal,
    The wife recommends:
    "Coal Miner's Daughter"

  49. Obama eases ahead of Clinton in Iowa.

    Everything she sang was super, Doug, can't say enough about her.

  50. Make that

  51. Hewitt figures Edwards people will go for Hillary when he quits, thus still nominee even if she loses in Iowa.

  52. This comment has been removed by the author.

  53. Sikhs Seethe Over a Snub by Clintons - November 19, 2007 - The New ...
    — The Clinton campaign's abrupt cancellation of scheduled appearances here is leaving members of the Sikh community dismayed and ...
    Rudy, Romney, And Thompson All Beating Clinton In Florida Poll...
    Musharraf 'to quit army by end of the week'...

  54. What this country needs is a chimpanzee for President.

    "It's refreshing to work with chimpanzees. They are the honest politicians we all long for. When the political philosopher Thomas Hobbes postulated an insuppressible power drive, he was right on target for both humans(bob disagrees with this) and apes. Observing how blatantly chimpanzees jockey for position, one will look in vain for ulterior motives and expedient promises."

    ...primatologist Frans B.M. De Waal

  55. Amend my statement to say that what this country is probably going to get for President is a chimpanzee.

  56. The B.... QUIT, but now she's been "fired!"
    Poor Baby
    City Room: Fired Principal of Arabic School Sues
    August 10
    October 16, 2007
    Updated, 6:48 p.m. | Debbie Almontaser, who resigned under fire from her position as principal of the Khalil Gibran International Academy, the city’s Arabic-themed school, spoke out publicly for the first time today since her case attracted headlines and protests from opposing sides. Ms. Almontaser, a Yemeni-American with an extensive record of educational and community work in Brooklyn, stepped down on Aug. 10 amid a controversy that erupted after she was quoted defending the use of the word “intifada” as a T-shirt slogan.

    Ms. Almontaser released a prepared statement through her lawyer and later read the statement from the steps of City Hall in a news conference that started soon after 5 p.m. In the statement, she said that she was forced to participate in an interview with The New York Post, that the newspaper misrepresented her views and that city officials then threatened to shut down the academy if she did not resign.

  57. US Senator and Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton [recently] announced her opposition to a proposed US free trade agreement with Colombia (as well as to FTAs with Panama and South Korea), citing concern about Colombia’s "history of violence against trade unionists." Where does that leave the FTA with Colombia?


    Charles Rangel, Member of the US House of Representatives from New York and Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee:

    I do not support passage of the Colombia FTA—there simply are not enough votes to take up the agreement at this time. As I have previously stated, it is up to those who do support the Colombia FTA to convince members of Congress and round up the votes for the bill.


    Edward Schumacher-Matos, columnist and media consultant, and former managing editor of The Wall Street Journal Americas:

    Hillary Clinton's declaration bodes badly for congressional approval of a free trade agreement with Colombia before the presidential elections a year from now. The agreement—and Colombia—are victims of domestic politics and shortsighted self-righteousness.

    Columbia FTA Next?

  58. This will screw with your head.

    After the third try I could switch it at will, but it gives me a headache.

  59. Huh?
    It was going CLOCKWISE until they made it go counter!

  60. Dr. Koval died on Jan. 31, 2006, according to Russian accounts. The cause was not made public.

    By American reckoning, he would have been 92, though the Kremlin’s statement put his age at 94 and some Russian news reports put it at 93.

    Posthumously, Dr. Koval was made a Hero of the Russian Federation, the highest honorary title that can be bestowed on a Russian citizen. The Kremlin statement cited “his courage and heroism while carrying out special missions.”

    Kremlin Honor

  61. That dang dancing lady gave me the fits but the wife got it right off. Tip she gave me--concentrate on the toe as it goes around to left. Finally got it myself after many tries.

  62. ...but the DO reverse it at the end, right?

  63. Them kinda dancers ain't 'sposed to have such big boobs!

  64. What's "the left?"
    Clockwise or Counter?
    Shape up, farmer Albob!

  65. America's hopes for the future rest mostly with the 9/11 generation. Despite their unfortunate propensity so far to vote Democratic, these young men and women will, I believe, turn out to be far more impressive than we boomers who begat them.

    It would of course be a fitting fate, after all the soaring rhetoric about the boomers, if they turned out to be basically a parenthesis. They may go down in history as occupying space between the generation that won World War II and presided over a relatively successful second-half of the twentieth century, and the 9/11 generation that will deal with the threats the boomers neglected during that quintessential boomer decade, the '90s.

    It is the 9/11 generation that will have to construct and maintain a new American century. The best we boomers can do now is help them get started on the job.

    Not-so-great Generation

  66. SuperD, look down at your type board, find the 'A'--over that ways is lefty.

    On the farm, when turning bolts, we always says, lefty loosey, righty tighty.

  67. 'they turned out to be basically a parenthesis'--

    An interruption of continuity; an interval: “This is one of the things I wasn't prepared for—the amount of unfilled time, the long parentheses of nothing” (Margaret Atwood).


  68. HH: Thank you for joining us on the Hugh Hewitt Show, Dr. Chalabi, former deputy prime minister of Iraq, and now head of the Iraqi Services Committee. Is political reconciliation occurring in Iraq, Dr. Chalabi?

    AC: Yes, it is occurring, but on…hello?

    HH: Yes, we can hear you.

    AC: Okay, it’s occurring on levels that are more subtle and basic than what is advertised. It is occurring at neighborhood levels, and it is occurring at community levels, which is very, very important.

    HH: And is there movement within the Iraqi Parliament to pass some of the legislations that the American media have been reporting for a long time are necessary to reconciliation?

    AC: Well, those are issues that are mainly of concern to the United States, and that have taken on a life of their own in the United States. The Iraqi Parliament is probably, will pass some form of this legislation, and…but that’s not really the issue that is hampering reconciliation here.

    HH: What is the key to the next year in Iraq?

    AC: We have to…first, to provide services for the people of Baghdad, and second, we have to resolve the problem of internally displaced people, and that’s attempting to return people to their homes in the various parts of Baghdad. These are the two key issues.

    Ahmad Chalabi

  69. Graphic imagery of who has pulled the weight in Iraq

    I've learned that many of these names--Sadr, Hakim, Chalabi, others--they sure go back a long ways in Iraq. New generation of the same old families snarling at each other it seems.

  70. so lefty loosey is counterclockwise, RIGHT?
    you didn't answer the question about whether she reverses toward the end:
    I still get all clockwise 'til then, but then I'm a Very Creative Person, so that's to be expected, I guess.
    SuperDoug over, but not out.

  71. SuperD, for me, she was twirling from the right side of the screen to the left, that would be clockwise. Wife told me to concentrate on her lifted toe, which I did, then after a while bingo she kinda went a little the other way, and then after a bit more of staring, she done went all the way around counterclockwise! It's possible a brain scan would show you lacking a left brain lobe:) hardeharhar I don't really mean that, you might have two right lobes and a left, giving you problems....

  72. You might concentrate on those firm breasts, maybe that would do it.

  73. Now for the life of me I can't make her go back the other way. That image is going faster around than the one we worked on the other day.