Latin America: Put the Countries Ahead of the Issues

Latin America: Put the Countries Ahead of the Issues

Long before we knew who the 44th president of the United States would be, Latin America experts began debating the list of priorities that should guide the next administration's regional policy. From Foreign Affairs to the Brookings Institution to the Washington Office on Latin America -- every magazine or think tank with a background in the region was shopping a set of ideas that could reverse the low tide of the Bush years.

Some argue for more emphasis on free trade, a robust regional security initiative, and a strategy to isolate Hugo Chávez and his populist ilk; others want to de-emphasize trade, limit the military's role in security operations, and encourage more engagement with the region's leftist leaders. Some suggestions are more convincing than others, but all the prescriptions for regional rebirth are flawed. My advice to President-elect Barack Obama is to be wary of any attempt to pin American policy to four or five objectives.

The region is far too diverse with far too wide a range of needs to narrow down to a short list of goals. American interests regarding a basket case like Haiti, an emerging heavyweight such as Brazil, and a middle-income neighbor like Mexico could not be more different. Trying to determine whether, for instance, maintaining good relations with Brazil deserves more or less attention than reducing gang violence in Central America is like asking whether defense is more important than health care; both are vital, though entirely unrelated.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.

More World Politics Review