Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Part II of The New Democrat Foreign Policy Agenda for Latin America:  Multi-Polarism -- A Return to Spheres of Influence


Barack ObamaHugo Chavez

This is the second part of an analysis I am posting of the larger implications of the agenda for American Foreign Policy as developed within the speech of Connecticut Senator Christopher Dodd in his recent address to the Naval Academy, which I believe, in the absence of clarity from Barack Obama, whose candidacy Dodd has endorsed, can be taken as representative of the new outlook of the Democratic Party for U.S. relations with Latin America.

Let me re-post the quote I excerpted in my previous post, which I took from the Oppenheimer blog on Latin America, though this time I want to underline two key parts of what Dodd says:

". . . Colombia still struggles with the demobilization of paramilitaries, impunity and other human rights violations.

It has made progress towards advancing its citizens’ security and establishing the rule of law.

Colombia has faced a 40-year onslaught waged by powerful terrorist organizations bent on destroying the state.

Thousands of citizens were murdered and kidnapped. In one particularly brazen instance, guerillas linked to the Medellin drug cartel laid siege to the Colombian Palace of Justice for 26 hours, and assassinated eleven Supreme Court Justices.

In light of a violent history, and in light of the complex challenges still facing Colombia, it seems to me our narrow focus on a bilateral trade agreements makes little sense. Bilateral trade with the United States is important, but it’s only one element.

“Free Trade” between Colombia and America is not a panacea—we should stop selling it as such.

President Uribe of Colombia has focused his efforts on engaging the United States, but he needs to apply the same energy engaging his neighbors.

President Uribe needs to spend as much time travelling to Argentina, Brazil and other neighbors as frequently as he travels to Washington.

In doing so, he will be forging deeper political, social and economic relationships.

Latin America’s security, and economic future isn’t just tied to bilateral deals with the United States.

Regional trade and political engagement will far better serve everyone’s interests along with independently negotiated and instituted trade deals with the United States. . . ."

Clearly Dodd is pushing regional integration, though he only barely alludes to the idea in his statement. In the case of Colombia's relations with Argentina and Brazil this means the Mercosur process; the movement toward a "Southern Common Market," a plan for regional integration in which Colombia does participate, in spite of strained relations with many of its Mercosur partners.

I think everyone should immediately stop and recognize the larger implications of this policy decision. Dodd recommends moving away from free trade, moving towards regional integration, leaving Colombia to gravitate to the sphere of regional interest defined by Brazil and Argentina, rather than maintaining U.S. commitments which date back to the negotiation of Plan Colombia during the Clinton presidency and continuing through its implementation during the current administration along with the negotiation of a free trade agreement. With respect to Brazil and Argentina, there are serious problems with the policies they have pursued with regard to their support, at times subtle at others open, for the Bolivarian Left in Latin America. The regimes in both countries are indebted to Hugo Chavez for political aid he has given to them, especially so in the case of Argentina which has benefited from Venezuelan oil and gas subsidies to the tune of billions of dollars. This policy goal would force Colombia into the arms of nations who have been either openly or covertly working to tear the country apart. It is further betrayal of a friendly nation that desperately needs American support for the maintenance of its territorial integrity and democratic way of life.

At the very least Christopher Dodd recommends, and we may assume Barack Obama concurs, that the United States should move away from its fifty plus year commitment to support a world order founded upon a uniform system of collective security that likewise would uphold a common standard for human values and continue world economic expansion. And what will replace it? Well; if we examine Dodd's remarks about using "regional trade" carefully, it appears that he favors an order that divides the world into what Euro-Leftists refer to as "Polar Centers of Regional Power," which is the modern expression of what were long called "Spheres of Influence."

The post-World War II world order embodied in the United Nations was created under a common understanding that the system it was to replace had been defined by regional and/or imperial spheres of influence and that universal standards in security, human expression, and economic life had to be the cornerstones of a new world order that would preserve the peace and humankind's future. The Multi-Polarist Synthesis puts this aside in favor of the recognition of "polar centers of power," the origins of which represent a rejection of the tradition of universalism that has formed the underpinning of world order ever since the inception of the U.N. This is not an evolutionary change in world politics and society; it is a fundamental alteration of world order, and we must explain why developed and developing nations other than the United States urge its adoption.

Though many influential factors can be considered as contributing to the development of a Multi-Polarist world order, I believe the most important influence is basic economics. Many of the world's more developed societies have learned that they cannot sustain economic growth in a truly competitive capitalist environment because they have implemented domestic social policies that have stripped capital of its productivity and which leave them lagging behind in the drive to compete in the new global economy. And there are other nations just outside of this group, which would include China and Russia, who both have a very mixed brand of capitalist development but who still fear the political implications of the acceptance of universal values as a development which would create conflicts with their perceived national interests. Multi-Polarism's true origins, especially in its theoretical formulation, lie with the nations of Western Europe, with France and Germany being the best examples, where expensive domestic social programs have raised the cost of employment for business enterprise to a point where the norms for national unemployment begin at a low of ten percent and usually lie somewhere between there and fifteen percent. These are unreasonably high figures that have the potential for creating genuine domestic unrest and have impelled these nations to foreign policies designed to change the rules of the game, rather than addressing these difficulties within their national political systems.

The solution to the problems of sagging economic growth among the developed societies has been one that seeks to define spheres of interest where they can enjoy the non-competitive advantages of trade exclusion that will permit their domestic economies to function without addressing domestic social spending. And there already have been visible examples which show its debilitating effect upon international order. The scramble among major nations for preferential access to Iraqi oil before the Iraq War, with France's TotalFinaElf being the best/worst example, showed that the concerns of upholding standards of international law were meaningless where national economic interest was in play. But there are also other instances that demonstrate this trend, such as the negotiation of exclusive markets in Africa for European "non genetically-modified" grains. You may remember how some European Union members were prepared to let Zambians starve in 2002 to preserve their market for non-genetically altered foods. The universal standards that were embodied in the original formulation of the U.N. charter and the post-World War II international order it created will be relics of the past if Multi-Polarism becomes the accepted basis for the definition of a new world order and we should expect to see more of the same if the United States endorses it, as the Christopher Dodd speech seems to suggest.

Multi-Polarism is true social imperialism that fits Vladimir Lenin's classical definition of Imperialism much more closely than it does the universal model of the post-Second World War order it is intended to replace. It embodies a new order organized to support the twin goals of limiting economic competition between developed nations in favor of the acquisition of exclusive trade access and sacrificing the level of world economic growth developing societies need in favor of a regulated international system that will preserve the social peace that more advanced societies now enjoy at the expense of their less-developed neighbors elsewhere on the globe.

And Multi-Polarism also portends for a dark future for the causes of freedom and democracy for exactly the reasons one can see in the case of Colombia, where a nation struggling to preserve democracy and human freedom is cast aside and told that it must change its ways to accommodate the interests of other regional powers who have supported its destabilization and the weakening of its free democratic society.

When you hear Barack Obama call for direct talks with Chavez and Castro, or when you read Christopher Dodd calling for a movement away from free trade with Latin America, or when you notice that both refuse to recognize and discuss the threats to democracy and freedom the Bolivarian Left present to the region; you have your vision of the future for American foreign policy if the Multi-Polarist Synthesis is adopted, as the Democrats now urge. It is the only framework within which they will be able to promote a social agenda whose spending levels will strip American capital of the productivity that has made the United States the prosperous nation it has been ever since the end of the second world war. And the causes of preserving and supporting democracy and human freedom will be placed at risk as well.


Jorge Pareja said...


Te hago la solicitud de que hagas el esfuerzo de hacer una version en español de parte I y parte II, para difundirlos en ALAMBRE POLITICO. Y otros blogs que tu conozcas. Felicitaciones..

Cordial saludo,


StJacques said...


¡Muy bien!

Le entraré en contacto después de que termine las traducciones, porque me gustaria hacer un repaso para la claridad de la traducción, de expresiones idiomáticas, etc.