Top Republican Calls for Stepped-Up Interventionism in Latin America

Bogeymen like Iran and drug cartels are the pretext, while maintaining hegemony is the goal

The top Republican in Congress on Tuesday called for stepping up U.S. “engagement” and interventionism in Latin America in order to obstruct various bogeymen that pose no threat to America.

“The best defense against an expansion of Iranian influence in Latin America – and against the destructive aspirations of international criminals in the region – is for the United States to double down on a policy of direct engagement,” U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner said at the State Department.

Boehner said Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visits to Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua and Ecuador in recent months “underscored the designs Iran has for expanding its influence in Latin America, and its eagerness to forge bonds with governments in the Western Hemisphere that have demonstrated a lesser interest in freedom and democracy.”

If diplomatic meetings between Iran and Latin American countries reveals Iran’s surreptitious imperial designs to expand its influence and threaten America, one has to wonder what encircling Iran with two aggressive American wars, dozens of U.S. military bases, missile defense systems, and fleets of navy warships looks like to the Islamic Republic.

As for forming bonds with the region’s undemocratic governments, the U.S. has Iran beat by a long shot. For over a hundred years, the United States has wrought terror, war, poverty, and repression throughout Latin America in the form of CIA-orchestrated military coups, support of terrorists and dictatorial regimes, and a very bloody war on drugs, all while peppering the entire region with the U.S. military.

Other than encroaching Iranian influence, an inflated threat that has been repeatedly debunked, Boehner said the drug cartels are the region’s next greatest threat. But Washington’s insistence on draconian prohibitionist policies and reliance on militarization of the drug war is what is emboldening and enriching the drug gangs by driving them into the black market. Several leaders throughout Latin America have asked the U.S. to consider decriminalization as a new approach, but have been rejected.

“We must be clear that we will be there, with our friends and partners in the region, committed to fighting and winning the war for a free, stable, and prosperous hemisphere,” Boehner added. Promising continued and increased U.S. presence in Latin America is a tradition that goes back a long time in the history of imperial foreign policy, but a free, stable, and prosperous hemisphere is precisely what America has prevented lo these hundred years.

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Author: John Glaser

John Glaser writes for Antiwar.com.