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The Wide War

By Greg Grandin  Posted by Tom Dispatch (about the submitter)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 1 pages)
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How fast has Latin America fallen from favor? Just a decade ago the Clinton administration was holding up the region as the crown jewel of globalization's promise: All is quiet on "our southern flank," reported the head of the US Southern Command, General Barry McCaffrey, in 1995, "our neighbors are allies who, in general, share similar values." "The Western Hemisphere has a lot to teach the world," said McCaffrey's boss Secretary of Defense William Cohen two years later, "as the world reaches for the kind of progress we have made."

Today, with a new generation of leaders in open rebellion against Washington's leadership, Latin America is no longer seen as a beacon unto the world but as a shadowy place where "enemies" lurk. "They watch, they probe," Donald Rumsfeld warns of terrorists in Latin America; they look for "weaknesses." According to the new head of Southcom General Bantz Craddock, the region is held hostage by a league of extraordinary gentlemen made up of the "transnational terrorist, the narco-terrorist, the Islamic radical fundraiser and recruiter, the illicit trafficker, the money launderer, the kidnapper, [and] the gang member."

"Terrorists throughout the Southern command area of responsibility," Craddock's predecessor warned, "bomb, murder, kidnap, traffic drugs, transfer arms, launder money and smuggle humans." Problems that Clinton's Pentagon presented as discrete issues -- drugs, arms trafficking, intellectual property piracy, migration, and money laundering, what the editor of Foreign Policy Moisés Naín has described as the "five wars of globalization" -- are now understood as part of a larger unified campaign against terrorism.

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