DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE: Four More Years: Militarizing Latin America

By Conn Hallinan
Wednesday January 16, 2013 - 03:05:00 PM

This past December marked the 190th anniversary of the Monroe Doctrine, the 1823 policy declaration by President James Monroe that essentially made Latin America the exclusive reserve of the United States. And if anyone has any doubts about what lay at the heart of that Doctrine, consider that since 1843 the U.S. has intervened in Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Haiti, Nicaragua, Panama, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Uruguay, Granada, Bolivia, and Venezuela. In the case of Nicaragua, nine times, and Honduras, eight.

Sometimes the intrusion was unadorned with diplomatic niceties: the U.S. infantry assaulting Chapultepec Castle outside Mexico City in 1847, Marines hunting down insurgents in Central America, or Gen. “Black Jack” Pershing pursuing Pancho Villa through Chihuahua in 1916.

At other times the intervention was cloaked in shadow—a secret payoff, a nod and a wink to some generals, or strangling an economy because some government had the temerity to propose land reform or a re-distribution of wealth.

For 150 years, the history of this region, that stretches across two hemispheres and ranges from frozen tundra to blazing deserts and steaming rainforests, was in large part determined by what happened in Washington. As the wily old Mexican dictator Porfirio Diaz once put it, the great tragedy of Latin America is that it lay so far from God and so near to the United States.

But Latin America today is not the same as was 20 years ago. Left and progressive governments dominate most of South America. China has replaced the U.S. as the region’s largest trading partner, and Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Venezuela have banded together in a common market, Mercosur, that is the third largest on the planet. Five other nations are associate members. The Union of South American Nations and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean State have sidelined that old Cold War relic, the Organization of American States. The former includes Cuba, but excludes the U.S. and Canada.

On the surface, Mr. Monroe’s Doctrine would appear to be a dead letter.

Which is why the policies of the Obama administration vis-à-vis Latin America are so disturbing. After decades of peace and economic development, why is the U.S. engaged in a major military buildup in the region? Why has Washington turned a blind eye to two successful, and one attempted, coups in the last three years? And why isn’t Washington distancing itself from the predatory practices of so-called “vulture funds,” whose greed is threatening to destabilize the Argentinean economy? -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: Zero Dark Thirty: Turning the Spotlight on US Use of Torture.

By Ralph E. Stone
Friday January 11, 2013 - 01:38:00 PM

Everybody knows that Osama bin Laden was killed by a team of Navy SEALS on May 2, 2011. The film Zero Dark Thirty involves the ten-year search for bin Laden, pitting Maya, played by Jessica Chastain, who believes bin Laden is likely hiding in plain sight, against the non-believers, which builds up to an action-packed climax where bin Laden is killed. The title of the film is spy-jargon for "half past midnight," the time of bin Laden's death. -more-

THE PUBLIC EYE: Zombie Politics: 2013 Republicans

By Bob Burnett
Friday January 11, 2013 - 01:36:00 PM

Originally a “zombie” was a reanimated corpse, but recently the term has expanded to signify a person under a spell without consciousness and self-awareness. A contemporary Republican politician. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Recovery is a Lifelong Endeavor

By Jack Bragen
Friday January 11, 2013 - 01:52:00 PM

When someone is correctly diagnosed with a major mental illness, the path of life is changed indelibly. The individual is on a path of either recognizing and dealing with his or her psychiatric illness, or being in denial and having a path of repeated disasters. Either way, an individual newly diagnosed with psychiatric illness does not usually have an easy destiny. -more-