The South American free trade zone Mercosur — comprised of Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, with Venezuela set to join — is often touted as a beacon of regional economic strength and a bulwark against the dominance of the U.S.-backed North American Free Trade Agreement. But a recent protectionist streak in Brazil, Mercosur’s most powerful member, has provoked debate over whether the bloc is as egalitarian and beneficial to South America’s emerging economies as it has long been cracked up to be. The most recent incident is Brazil’s announcement earlier this month that it intends to impose a 30 percent […]
Colombia recently signed a deal with South Korea for the development of several oil projects in Colombia. In an email interview, Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the Council of the Americas, discusses Colombia’s oil sector. WPR: What is the current state of Colombia’s oil sector, including extent of reserves and level of infrastructure? Eric Farnsworth: Simply put, Colombia has enjoyed an energy renaissance over the past decade. As noted in a recent Americas Society/Council of the Americas report on Colombia’s energy sector security is vastly improved and successive governments have placed an emphasis on attracting investment through regulatory stability, open […]
In Bolivia, another government minister has quit over a police crackdown on protesters opposed to a jungle highway.
What future does the United States Army face? During eight years of operations in Iraq and 10 years in Afghanistan, the Army has shifted from being a force focused on high-intensity conventional operations to one more comfortable fighting a dispersed enemy intermingled with the population. However, operations are winding down in Iraq, and an endpoint seems to be nearing in Afghanistan. Armed with the collective experience developed in the War on Terror, how will the Army move forward to face new challenges and threats? The answers involve political and military considerations that may contradict each other. The fact that the […]
China announced earlier this month that it would give $1 billion in preferential loans to Caribbean countries to support economic development. In an email interview, R. Evan Ellis, an assistant professor at the Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies of the National Defense University, discussed China-Caribbean relations. WPR: What is the history of China’s relations with the Caribbean? R. Evan Ellis: China’s relationship with the Caribbean has historically been colored by politics, and in particular the politics of diplomatic recognition. Ideological affinity between mainland China and the new regime in Cuba led Havana to diplomatically recognize the People’s Republic of China […]
The proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring crude oil from the so-called oil sands in Canada’s Alberta province through an almost 2,000-mile pipeline to the U.S. Gulf Coast, has in many ways become ground zero in the U.S. debate over fossil fuels, the environment and climate change. But perhaps most relevant in the current row, though practically absent from the debate, is the increasing awareness that energy security must be included as part of the calculus in determining energy sources. Indeed, terminology such as “friendly” supplier — regularly applied to Canada in U.S. energy discussions — underscores what is […]
There is broad bipartisan agreement that few national security issues are as critical as how to deal with America’s crippling debt. Getting America’s fiscal house in order will require difficult budgetary choices. This means that we need to make smart decisions about what is most needed to safeguard U.S. national security in the 21st century. A close look at the Pentagon budget reveals numerous programs that are more suitable to defeating the Cold War-era Soviet Union than to addressing current security threats, such as weak and failing states, cyberattacks and nuclear terrorism. A particularly egregious example is the budget for […]
The recent Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruling ordering Venezuela to stop trying to block a leading opposition candidate from challenging President Hugo Chávez in upcoming elections has breathed fresh life into the field of candidates seeking to unseat the Venezuelan leader. The ruling, met by brazen criticism from Chávez, paves the way for Leopoldo López Mendoza, the 40-year-old former mayor of a wealthy Caracas suburb, to run in primary elections slated for next February. More importantly, according to Christopher Sabatini, senior director of policy at the Americas Society and Council of the Americas, the ruling sets the stage for […]
Ten years ago, the concept of “network-centric warfare” dominated U.S. military thinking and deployment. An outgrowth of work associated with the Revolution in Military Affairs, network-centric warfare envisioned a battle space in which information dominance and standoff killing power gave the U.S. military supremacy across the combat spectrum. Influential in doctrine and acquisitions, network-centric warfare offered the tempting promise of eliminating Carl von Clausewitz’ fog of war, making the battlefield legible and, for well-prepared U.S. forces, malleable. Platforms such as the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship and DDG-1000, the Army’s Future Combat System, and the F-35 multirole combat aircraft were envisioned […]
Last month, Honduras deployed soldiers and police to the province of Colón to quell a series of deadly clashes over land disputes. In an email interview, Orlando J. Pérez, a professor of political science at Central Michigan University, discussed Honduras’ land disputes. WPR: What is the historical background of land ownership and land disputes in Honduras? Orlando J. Pérez: Conflicts over land are common in Honduras, with increased conflict since 2008. Land disputes are a symptom of the broader political, social and economic crises facing Honduras. They reflect the highly unequal nature of the country’s economy and represent yet more […]
The multilateral South American organization UNASUR announced Friday that its members planned to begin pulling troops from the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti, known by its acronym Minustah. “There’s consensus for a gradual withdrawal of troops, consistent with Haiti’s needs,” Brazilian Defense Minister Celso Amorim told the press after the body met in Montevideo, Uruguay. Amorim’s words carry weight. South America contributes the most peacekeepers to Minustah’s 12,000-strong mission, and Brazil leads its forces. But while the announcement may seem to mark the beginning of Minustah’s withdrawal, the mission is far from over. In fact, the Minustah mission is not […]
Former Guatemalan Army Gen. Otto Perez Molina has emerged as the victor in the first round of the country’s presidential election. He will now go into a November runoff election against business leader and populist Manuel Baldizon, who won 23 percent of the vote Sunday. But the fact that Perez carried 36 percent in the initial round may be a better indicator than any of how eager Guatemalan voters are to begin using the military to combat rampant drug crime in the country. “The No. 1 concern in public opinion going into this election is the security situation,” says Cynthia […]
Hundreds are detained in Chile after violence erupts on the anniversary of the 1973 military coup. The people are remembering their former president Salvador Allende.
Since I was at the Pentagon on Sept. 11 and saw Flight 77 hit the building, the 10th anniversary of the attack naturally causes me to reflect on how much progress we have made in preventing another such cataclysm during the past decade as well as on the challenges that remain for preventing one in the future. Two issues immediately come to mind: further strengthening the Department of Homeland Security and considering how the United States might reduce the high level of anti-Americanism that persists in much of the world. The mere creation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) […]
One thing I’d like add to my remarks from last Friday’s The World This Week program on France 24 has to do with the question, at the end of Part I, about the impact of Sept. 11 on America’s relationship to the world. To begin with, I usually find that particular discussion a bit reductionist. On one level, America’s collective reaction to Sept. 11 included a large dose of distrust and suspicion of a world that suddenly seemed very hostile and threatening. But on another level, I often find the portrayal of the barriers between America and the world to […]