By Besha Rodell
By Patrick Range McDonald
By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
The collateral damage here is significant. Reich is precisely the wrong man for this moment in Latin American relations. The slavishly pro-U.S. Latin American consensus of two decades ago is badly frayed, and Reich can be expected to do little more than tug on the loose threads. His Sandinista enemies in Nicaragua still get 40 percent of the vote and elect the mayor of the capital. In El Salvador, the former guerrillas that Reich fought are today the biggest party in the elected congress. The new Mexican foreign minister was a fierce leftist critic of the old Reagan-Reich policies. Chile‘s government is left of center. Venezuela seethes under an anti-U.S. populist regime and teeters on the brink of a military takeover. Colombia needs to be desperately yanked back from the abyss of an all-out civil war. Argentina’s mood remains volatile with its currency collapse after a decade of following U.S. monetary prescriptions. Brazil is only just recovering from a similar breakdown.
And not a single European country, not even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, nor a legion of farm-state Republicans any longer supports the American embargo on Cuba -- which Reich has vowed to tighten.
All of these issues will now go untended as the Bushies put the most wretched of political and electoral calculations ahead of the interests of hemispheric harmony. So cynical is this move that Bush knows very well that Reich, because he is a recess appointment, could be out of his job when Congress finishes its next session in 10 months. Another year will be lost in modernizing U.S. policy in the region -- but what the hell. Brother Jeb just might get re-elected.
A good friend of mine, bathed in the gothic sensibilities of the American South, told me back in the ‘80s that I was worrying too much. Any country so trivialized that millions of its inhabitants eat food with their fingers and spend their evenings cackling in front of The Simpsons, he said, could never achieve great evil, could never countenance, say, gold being pulled from their neighbors’ teeth. I suspect he‘s right, but I’m not always sure. So when I weigh the cheap political banality in which the Reich appointment is wrapped against the possible policy fallout, I honestly don‘t know if it’s better to laugh or to cry.
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