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The United States and Latin America: Shaping an Elusive Future


Authored by Dr. Donald E. Schulz.

March 01, 2000

68 Pages

Brief Synopsis

The demise of the Cold War has produced not an "End of History" but a "New World Disorder," which may well become more tumultuous in the decades ahead. Thus, it is crucial at this turn of the millennium to reconsider the prospects for regional security, the challenges that both new and old dangers may pose to U.S. interests, and the kind of strategy and policies that might enable the United States to both better cope with current problems and head off those that are just over the horizon. The author first analyzes U.S. security interests in Latin America, then goes on to survey the primary challenges to those interests, and how well U.S. strategy and policy are equipped to cope with them. He suggests how the security environment is likely to change over the next quarter century, both in terms of the new dangers that may arise and the evolution of problems that already exist. His conclusion that we are not strategically equipped to face the future is a disturbing one, for Latin America's importance to the United States is growing fast even as our attention is flagging. Will we have the insight to recognize our own interests, the will to commit sufficient resources to attain them, and the intellectual wherewithal to relate our means to our ends?

Introduction

Developing a U.S. national security strategy for Latin America is a daunting task in an era of scarce resources. Yet, it is important at this historical juncture that the effort be undertaken. The demise of the Cold War has produced not an “End of History” but a “New World Disorder,” which may well become more tumultuous in the decades ahead. Thus, it is crucial at this turn of the millennium to reconsider the prospects for regional security, the challenges that both new and old dangers may pose to U.S. interests, and the kind of strategy and policies that might enable the United States to both better cope with current problems and head off those that are just over the horizon.

In this report, Dr. Donald E. Schulz first analyzes U.S. security interests in Latin America. He then surveys the primary challenges to those interests, and how well U.S. strategy and policy are equipped to cope with them. But he does not stop there. He suggests how the security environment is likely to change over the next quarter century, both in terms of the new dangers that may arise and the evolution of problems that already exist. His conclusion that we are not strategically equipped to face the future is a disturbing one, for Latin America’s importance to the United States is growing fast even as our attention is flagging. Will we have the insight to recognize our own interests, the will to commit sufficient resources to attain them, and the intellectual wherewithal to relate our means to our ends?

This is a timely study. U.S. presidential elections will be held later this year. Thus, this report provides a excellent opportunity for policymakers and aspiring policymakers alike to begin reviewing where we are and where we are going. The Strategic Studies Institute is pleased to publish this monograph as a contribution to what promises to be a lively debate over our Latin American policy.


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