Monday, March 29, 2004

Outflanking Bush on Latin America

Larry Birns and Jessica Leight contend that recent statements on Latin America by John Kerry "appear to outflank on the right the Bush administration's extremist regional policymakers."

[Kerry's] two primary targets have been President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Cuba's Fidel Castro. While commendably finding fault with Bush policy regarding Secretary of State Powell's failure to protect the Aristide government in Haiti, Kerry's rhetoric regarding Cuba and Venezuela is reminiscent of barren Cold War strictures which, for all purposes, places him in the same extremist ideological bracket as the administration's two chief Latin American policy makers; the State Department's Roger Noriega and the Bush White House's Otto Reich.
All is not lost, however, and Kerry has a chance to rethink these positions. Say Birns and Leight,

There is still time for Kerry to review his simplistic and unimaginative formulations on regional issues and abandon his mimicking of Roger Noriega and Otto Reich's positions by beginning to articulate a clear alternative to the Bush administration's disastrous Latin America policy. This approach would be far more enlightening than his present one in which Kerry accused Bush of "sending mixed signals by supporting undemocratic processes in our own hemisphere." Kerry should also be denouncing the administration's involvement in a coup attempt in Venezuela, its stubbornness in maintaining a Cuba policy that has not been reviewed since its inception almost five decades ago, and its persistent ignorance of social justice concerns. Kerry also should be condemning the White House's bankrupt trade policy, its attempt to arm-twist its hemispheric counterparts into supporting its Middle East misadventures, and the general direction of Bush's high-handed regional policy, including its fundamental intolerance for differing points of view.
The outline of Kerry's foreign policy stances, as I've noted before, is rather remarkable for its congruence with George Bush's. A fundamental change would be a welcome development, but is not likely to happen.