The days when America can dictate and bully Latin American nations are over.
by Eamon McKinney
Henry Kissinger once famously said, “To be an enemy to America can be dangerous, but to be a friend can be lethal.” The aged but far from venerable Kissinger’s words have never been truer than they are today. America has a habit of redefining words to suit its own purposes. What the word “friend” means to America is interpreted differently by other nations. Of course friend is not the only word that means something different to America than it does to everyone else. Democracy is easily defined by most, but to America it means any country that subverts its own national interests to those of the U.S. The recent Summit of the Americas held in Los Angeles hosted a number of notable Latin America statesmen. There were however many notable absentees, Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, the latter two are undeniably democracies but by virtue of their independent government policies they were not welcome at the American-hosted summit. According to America’s twisted version of democracy, only right-wing, neo-liberal, America-friendly countries can qualify as legitimate democratic governments, and by extension “friends.”
The days when America can dictate and bully Latin American nations are over. Though not as intended by the hosts, there was much unity and friendship in evidence at the Summit. The head of Mexico’s socialist Government Manuel Lopez Obrador refused to attend in protest at the exclusion of the three absent nations, a lower-level official was sent in his stead. The heads of state of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador also declined the invitation citing the same reason. This principled and courageous stance came with the understanding that they would be positioning themselves as American enemies, but they did it anyway. After two hundred years under the imperialist Monroe doctrine they will no longer tolerate being considered America’s backyard. The message from Latin America was clear, “we don’t need your version of friendship, and we will take our chances as your enemy.”
The loss of American influence has accelerated tremendously in recent months, and it came at a bad time. America needs friends more than ever now and it is finding them increasingly hard to come by.
Although unstated, one of the main U.S. objectives at the Summit was to dissuade further Latin American engagement with China. The problem for America is that “south of the border” they prefer the Chinese version of friendship. That entails actually listening to the needs of their “friends”, something America is lamentably bad at. All the Latin countries are struggling with burdensome IMF debt and many are seriously close to default. They need investment in their economies and their infrastructure. China offers both without the internal interference in the nations’ domestic affairs. Respect for sovereignty and self-determination is what Latin Americans having been fighting for since the Spanish conquest more than 400 years ago. For the first time in centuries countries can see how that can now be achieved, and China is a big part of that scenario. America only offers co-operation on security, Latin America has security concerns but most of that concern is directed at America. The tone deaf empire needs to understand that Latin America has a new, much better friend.
The message the U.S. got from the Summit was a clear continent-wide rejection of American policies and its attempts to create an anti-China block. We can assume that American officials are getting used to such rejection by now. Attempts to create an anti-China alliance in Asia have also failed miserably, for many of the same reasons. No Asian country sees China as a threat, they see it as a regional leader whose economic miracle has concurrently raised the economies of its neighbours. The U.S. attempts to create security concerns where they don’t exist has gained zero traction among Southeast Asian nations. With the exception of the occupied nations of South Korea and Japan, China’s relationships with its Asian neighbours are excellent. “Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Jaakob said that “When Americans come to Asia they only want to talk about security, we have no pressing security concerns, when Asian nations get together we talk about trade, any problems can be resolved through negotiation and diplomacy”. The main security concern among Asian nations is the talk of the need for an Asian NATO. The recent U.S. attempts to place missiles aimed at China in six Asian countries unsurprisingly found no takers. If America was listening (doubtful), they would have heard that it is neither needed nor wanted in a region that just wants to do business. American friendship in Asia means making any enemy of China, and none consider that worth the price.
Another of America’s enemies, Russia has defied all attempts to destroy its economy and has rebounded to have the world’s strongest currency. The transparent motivations behind the Ukraine conflict have many nations quietly cheering Russia on in their fight against the common enemy, the Empire. The sanctions designed to destroy Russia found little support outside the usual suspects in the NATO clique. With the world facing catastrophic shortages of food, energy and capital it is increasingly Russia and China that countries are turning to for help.
While America’s enemies continue to enjoy much goodwill, how are America’s friends doing? Not so good. By joining in the absurd Anti-China Covid rhetoric spurred by Trump, Australia, Canada and Britain have committed economic suicide by alienating a valuable trade partner, just to please America. American friends in Europe will suffer through horrific food and energy shortages together with rapidly increasing inflation, all largely a result of the Ukraine provocation. Not forgetting the instigation of an unnecessary and dangerous war in their neighbourhood, a war that no one but America (NATO) wanted. And of course the Ukraine itself, goaded into a disastrous war against a much stronger foe, now finds itself facing defeat and destruction. All attempts by the hapless Zelensky at a negotiated peace are blocked by the West. Not while there are some Ukrainians still alive apparently. Despite the encouraging words of his American masters, the disposable Zelensky finds himself very much alone. The once prosperous post-Soviet Ukraine has turned into a bankrupt, burned-out shell of its former self. Zelensky may well retreat to his $45mil in Miami when it is all over, but the unfortunate Ukrainian people will suffer the consequences of American friendship for generations to come.
If America has its way, its “friends” in Taiwan will soon suffer the same fate as the Ukraine. Despite all attempts to provoke China into an action that would draw International outrage, and presumably sanctions, China has demonstrated considerable restraint. It understands the game being played and absent a foolish Declaration of Independence from Taiwan, it is unlikely to be drawn in. South Korea and Japan have been occupied nations since 1944. The American presence is overwhelmingly objected to by the citizens, yet they owe fealty to America. In the event of a China conflict, their U.S. bases would likely be the first targets in any China response. Yet both nations declined American requests to host China facing missiles in their countries.
The loss of American influence has accelerated tremendously in recent months, and it came at a bad time. America needs friends more than ever now and it is finding them increasingly hard to come by. Even long time “friends” and supplicants like Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states are shunning America’s call to produce more oil. Biden couldn’t even get MBS to take his phone call. Shamelessly they also turned to Venezuela to ask for oil, unsurprisingly they found no friends or solutions there either.
Returning to Henry Kissinger, by his definition, being a friend or enemy of America can be equally dangerous. “America has no permanent friends or enemies, only interests”
Those that consider themselves American “friends” should heed his words.
But credit where it is due, the U.S. is indeed inspiring a new spirit of friendship and co-operation among the nations of the world. Economic and security blocs of like-minded countries are expanding in Central Asia, Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America. All of these blocs are anti-imperialist in nature, and by definition anti-American. More than a century of American imperialism is coming to a rapid end.