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Will Trump Revert to Gunboat Diplomacy in Latin America?

July 15, 2018 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

News media outlets are abuzz with reports that President Trump
told aides in August 2017 to prepare a contingency plan for U.S.
military intervention in Venezuela. The president apparently
indicated considerable interest in that option. His
security advisers reportedly pushed back firmly, arguing that
resorting to military force would have significant adverse
repercussions. For example, they warned it could cause a surge of
anti-U.S. sentiment throughout the Western Hemisphere. Although
their opposition caused the president to put his flirtation with
that drastic measure on hold, there is no evidence that he has
renounced it. Indeed, given the worrisome political, economic, and
security developments in Venezuela, Central America, and Mexico,
there is a significant chance that President Trump or a future
occupant of the White House will give that option serious
consideration.

There may be a tendency to forget that U.S. military coercion of
troublesome regimes in the Western hemisphere was once a major item
in Washington’s foreign policy toolbox. That approach, so-called
gunboat diplomacy, led to numerous military interventions during
the first three decades of the twentieth century. That was especially true in Central America and the
Caribbean. Washington launched multiple invasions and occupations
of countries such as Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Nicaragua.
Even Mexico, a much larger and stronger country, was not immune to
Washington’s imperialism. During Woodrow Wilson’s administration,
U.S. forces seized the port city of Veracruz and sent an expeditionary
force deep into northern Mexico in an attempt to apprehend Pancho Villa and his
armed rebels.

From Mexico to Venezuela,
countries are facing instability—but that doesn’t mean
Washington should take extreme measures.

Such crude conduct supposedly came to an end with Franklin
Roosevelt’s proclamation of the Good Neighbor policy. But Washington’s
respect for the sovereignty of its hemispheric neighbors was
erratic and incomplete even following that policy change. Indeed,
much of the change seemed to be in tactics rather than fundamental
principles or goals. For instance, after World War II, U.S.
administrations relied more on covert operations by the new Central
Intelligence Agency instead of military force to undermine governments that opposed Washington’s
agenda or behaved in an unruly, independent manner.

Thus, the CIA orchestrated the overthrow of Guatemala’s
left-wing president Jacobo Arbenz, and was at least somewhat
involved in undermining the rule of Haitian dictator “Papa
Doc” Duvalier. In addition, the CIA overthrew the Dominican
Republic’s Rafael Trujillo (who had apparently outlived his
usefulness as a U.S. client), and Chile’s socialist
president, Salvador Allende. The Agency also made multiple attempts to assassinate …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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