• News
  • Celebrities
  • Finance
  • Crypto
  • Travel
  • Entertainment
  • Health
  • Others

Why Colombia?

Image has not been found. URL: /wp-content/uploads/2008/09/mccain-leaning.jpgSen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) (WDCpix)

Put yourself in Sen. John McCain’s shoes. You want to flash your war-on-terror and free-trade bona fides, expose your rival’s vulnerabilities and change the conversation from Iraq. Just three hours from Miami is the place to be: Colombia.

Outside of the Middle East, Pakistan and Afghanistan, Colombia is the biggest recipient of U.S. security assistance — about $600 million a year. It has the largest U.S. embassy outside of Baghdad. President George W. Bush and Colombia’s President Alvaro Uribe, as well as the security establishments of both countries, share a visceral simpatico for the war on terror and the war drugs — as well as penchant for curtailing the civil liberties of their citizens to those ends.

Politics-150x150_6758.jpg
Politics-150x150_6758.jpg

Illustration by: Matt Mahurin

With support from both Democrats and Republicans over the last 10 years, Colombia has beaten back the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, a left-wing insurgency; demobilized right-wing paramilitaries, and brought a measure of public security to once-abandoned rural areas and crime-ridden urban centers. By tethering himself to the Bush-Uribe security legacy in Colombia, McCain can fit squarely into the GOP’s hard-core security-first narrative.

It suits Uribe too. Now serving the last two years of his second, and constitutionally final, term, the Colombian president has just announced a referendum he hopes will give him a shot at a third term. This sets up an obvious parallel for those who compare a McCain presidency to a third term for Bush. McCain has fully bought into the narrative that juxtaposes the “bad” left-wing populism of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela with the “good” right-wing populism of Uribe’s Colombia.

But the differences between McCain and Sen. Barack Obama, the presumptive candidate, are not primarily about security—on Plan Colombia and the fight against the FARC, the two senators are roughly in sync. Though, to be sure, Obama does stress human-rights issues more than his opponent.

But the second big issue involving Colombia that has major U.S. political resonance is trade. During Bush’s second term, Washington and Bogota negotiated a free-trade agreement. Then, inexplicably, the Bush administration waited until the Democrats held the majority to start pushing for Congressional approval.

At a time of palpable economic insecurity and growing anxiety about globalization, and in the middle of an election year, the House Democratic leadership effectively put the agreement ratification on ice by stopping the fast-track clock that the White House started running earlier this year.

Bush had pushed for the trade agreement as Bogota’s ultimate reward. It was designed to be a blessing, opening the door to the foreign investment and jobs that Colombia needs to finally purge the economy of its drug-induced sins. The White House, similarly, set up the Democrats as turncoats, as partisans more responsive to special interests like the dreaded AFL-CIO, than to the national security imperatives of keeping Colombia strong. Both Obama and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton have already pledged to hold up the Colombia agreement, and even to re-open discussions about the North American Free Trade Agreement.

To Bush, McCain, the GOP and many Democrats, Colombia is the poster child for the success of the trade-drugs-democracy trifecta of U.S. foreign policy since the Cold War. The “naive” Illinois senator, McCain might surely argue, is willing to squander this success.

The facile, but plausible, answer to “why Colombia” might require no more than connecting the dots between the lobbying of McCain’s leading adviser, Charlie Black, for Occidental Petroleum’s interests in Colombia, or for the trade agreement itself.

But as McCain probably sees it, this trip to Colombia is about much more. It demonstrates Washington’s, and his own, friendship for Colombia, the closest U.S. ally in the hemisphere; strengthens his own candidacy; strengthens Uribe; puts Chavez on notice, and paints Obama and the Democratic Party as weak — unreliable as an ally abroad and unable to withstand the heat from special interests at home.

This election marks a turning point in U.S. history in a number of ways. Candidates have long campaigned on how they’d handle foreign relations, to be sure. For the last 50 years, Latin America has turned up in presidential elections, but largely as a domestic political issue — often only as that four-letter word, C-U-B-A. Now, we have candidates campaigning abroad for an electorate’s benefit at home, as Obama says he will also be doing shortly.

Instead of the question of how Washington treats its enemies, front and center on the table is how the United States treats its friends. McCain may well see Colombia as the embodiment of everything wrong about Obama and right about his own candidacy. But given the sour mood of the U.S. electorate, and the extent of Latin America’s frustration with Bush’s foreign- policy agenda, it is hard to see how playing favorites with Colombia will win the senator new friends in the hemisphere — or, most important, more votes at home.

  • Julia Sweig, a senior fellow and director of Latin America studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, is the author of “Friendly Fire: Losing Friends and Making Enemies in the Anti-American Century.”*

Discussion & Comments (0)

    Recent Articles

    • Things You Should Know about North America

      Things You Should Know about North America

      Get to know more about North America.

    • Eurovision 2010 Paula Seling Unpredictable Contest

      Eurovision 2010 Paula Seling Unpredictable Contest

      Paula Seling's experience on the Eurovision stage led her to declare that "Eurovision is an unpredictable contest". Which may explain the success of the young Lena from Germany, about whom the predictions before the event did not offer much chances for victory.

    • VIPRow.me - The Best Sports Streaming Website Today

      VIPRow.me - The Best Sports Streaming Website Today

      Have you ever contemplated creating a user-friendly site dedicated to sports-related free live streaming channels?

    • Learn How To Download, Install, And Use The Xnxubd 2022 Frame App

      Learn How To Download, Install, And Use The Xnxubd 2022 Frame App

      XNXUBD 2022 Nvidia users are able to watch thousands of videos and other contents online. XNXUBD 2022 Nvidia New is a piece of software that enables people to watch videos online without having to pay for memberships. On a graphics card, the XNXubd also provides some of the best gaming and virtual reality experiences.

    • Xvideostudio Video Editor Apk Free Download For Pc Full Version In 2022

      Xvideostudio Video Editor Apk Free Download For Pc Full Version In 2022

      A new edition of the Video Editor Apk for xVideostudio.Video Studio has all the latest features, including support for multiple video download formats in HD, FHD, and even 4K resolutions.

    • 9 Best Lotion For Masturbation - Popular Choice For 2022

      9 Best Lotion For Masturbation - Popular Choice For 2022

      Masturbation is a common activity for men and women. It's a natural and risk-free way to explore your body, experience pleasure, and release sexual tension.

    • Reasons Why You Need To Stop Watching Movies From Sflix

      Reasons Why You Need To Stop Watching Movies From Sflix

      Without having to sign up or pay anything, you can watch movies online for free with SFlix. It has more than 10,000 movies and television shows.

    • Coi Leray Mom And Dad's Family History & Wife, Explained

      Coi Leray Mom And Dad's Family History & Wife, Explained

      Coi Leray Collins (born May 11, 1997) is a rapper from the United States. Leray started publishing songs to SoundCloud in 2014, and in 2018 she released her breakthrough track "Huddy" as well as her first mixtape, Everythingcoz.

    • Listen And Download Music On MyFreeMP3 For Free

      Listen And Download Music On MyFreeMP3 For Free

      Are you in a bind and looking for a place to obtain free mp3 songs? Never again will you need to bother, since this article has everything necessary to obtain your solution. Download free music from MyfreeMP3.com, one of the world's most popular websites.