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      Progress in the Middle East and Latin America

      American electorate against US intervention are being felt, if only marginally. Recent polling shows little or no American appetite for being drawn into a war on the side of Israel against Iran’s nuclear program and the Teheran regime itself. The election results are a stinging rebuke to Prime Minister Netanyahu, the Likud Party and the billionaire fringe headed by corrupt casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. Now the Israeli regime is “rushing” to make nice with Obama lest he engage in bilateral talks with Iran or “go easy” on the PLO’s quest for upgraded status at the UN. These are reasonable initiatives that the president should take in pursuit of a “grand bargain” over the Middle East, pushing a day of reckoning down the road. (New York Times, November 7, 2012)

      On a positive note, J Street and Jewish voters in general gave strong support to Obama and to candidates supportive of a two-state solution with active US diplomatic involvement. J Street is beginning to push back against AIPAC's monopoly over Jewish-American politics. 

      Latin America

      On Latin America, the US is increasingly isolated and may remain so for a time. A Summit of the Americas meeting next year, however, may be an opportunity to break the diplomatic ice toward Cuba, and Obama has indicated an interest in "reviewing" the bloody and ineffective Drug War. Latin American governments will aggressively insist on respect for their socio-economic needs in any hemispheric economic development. The model for Obama could be FDR’s Good Neighbor Policy, but there is little sign of any US-based popular movement to push for such alternatives. The key might be the rising Latino powerhouse, but their attention will be on comprehensive immigration reform more than with solidarity with the left-leaning democracies of Central and Latin America.

      A key factor in the hemisphere is the rising role of China in Latin America’s economic development and independent diplomacy. The irony is that Obama is focused on an “Asian pivot” – i.e a new Cold War with China – while Chinese influence grows in Latin America in response to obsolete US policies. The US elite may finally be forced to acknowledge the new Latin America or face losing influence to China. 

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      Reader Comments (1)

      I don't denigrate them -- I was part of them and know that people continuing in various ways are doing good work -- but 80s-style solidarity movements are sort of beside the point. Action to promote a revision of "globalization" to put it on a more labor-friendly basis and a less selective and more comprehensive and deliberate advocacy of democracy and human rights are the most important things that are needed from the Obama administration. Does he have it in him? He listened to the American Soybean Association more than to Democrats about "free trade." He certainly hasn't favored democracy in Honduras. He's been willing to accept a Panamanian president on the payroll of international racketeers in exchange for (badly kept) secret drone bases in Panama.
      I think he will be as progressive as people force him to be. The thing is, there's not much force behind an idealized caricature of someone else's revolution or a stereotype of what a reactionary is supposed to be. The activism for a new US foreign policy needs to be on a more sophisticated basis than it used to be.
      Maybe the acid test will be Cuba. We should be talking not just about closing that prison at Guantanamo, but abandoning that base. The option ought to be laid out in talks with the Cubans to determine whether everything gets dismantled and shipped off and a set of gate keys and a note are left for the mayor of the Cuban city of Guantanamo or whether Cuba takes over buildings, urban infrastructures, functioning fast-food restaurant franchises and so on as part of a more friendly transfer. It would be a good way to start to restore US-Cuban relations on the basis of Washington not approving of or ignoring some of the ugly things that Havana does but also not holding the Cuban government to an extremely different standard, and at the same time effectively telling the old right-wing Miami Cuban exile leadership that their veto power over US policy in the hemisphere has gone the way of the dinosaurs.

      November 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEric Jackson
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