June 26, 2004

Steyn again, on a favorite subject of mine...

Mark Steyn has a great column on a subject I've often mentioned; the change in our Latin America policy during my lifetime. The switch from our supporting dictators to encouraging democracy. A product of the Reagan years. A product of the folks known by the fuzzy term "neocons." Who were brought into the halls of power by...Ronald Reagan.

...If you think the democratization of Arabia is a long shot, so was the democratization of Latin America. But it happened. And the only thing to argue about is how much credit you want to give the Reagan Doctrine. You want to blame the US for acts of genocide against the Mayans by the Guatemalan military? As you wish. But that, in fact, is an example of what happens when Washington is absent. The Guatemalans reckoned they could handle the insurgency and buy arms on the international market, so they set to it, without any pesky foreigners around to complain about human-rights abuses (unlike, say, the Balkans, where the atrocities occur in plain sight of the UN peacekeepers).

But anyone who thinks Reagan wanted to oppress Central Americans and keep them in poverty doesn’t understand his profound belief in economic prosperity as the engine of peace and freedom. Central America in the first half of the Eighties had negative GDP growth: minus one per cent. In the second half, there was annual GDP growth of two per cent; in the Nineties, five per cent. Throughout Latin America, voters turned to parties who promoted privatization, free trade, hard currencies – or, in a word, Reaganomics. Ask yourself this: does today’s Latin America incline closer to western values or Che and Fidel’s?  

Fernando Henrique Cardoso knew the answer. He wound up as President of Brazil, abandoned “Dependency Theory”, embraced globalization, and advised his people to “forget everything I wrote”. They did. Maybe the west’s dewy-eyed liberation theologists still mooning for Daniel Ortega should do the same...

Thanks to Samizdata.

Posted by John Weidner at June 26, 2004 8:22 PM
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