Democrats Snub Latin American Ally

Robert Novak reports that the Democrats, who have squealed loudly over the supposedly unilateral foreign policy of George Bush, snubbed one of the few allies we have left in Latin America. Colombian president Alvaro Uribe returned to Bogota in shock as Democrats blocked trade agreements over old human-rights issues, while Hugo Chavez rallies the other nations to opposition against the US:

Colombia’s president, Alvaro Uribe, returned to Bogota this week in a state of shock. His three-day visit to Capitol Hill to win over Democrats in Congress was described by one American supporter as “catastrophic.” Colombian sources said Uribe was stunned by the ferocity of his Democratic opponents, and Vice President Francisco Santos publicly talked about cutting U.S.-Colombian ties.
Uribe got nothing from his meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders. Military aid remains stalled, overall assistance is reduced, and the vital U.S.-Colombian trade bill looks dead. Uribe is the first Colombian president to crack down on his country’s corrupt army officer hierarchy and to assault both right-wing paramilitaries and left-wing guerrillas, but last week he confronted Democrats wedded to outdated claims of civil rights abuses and rigidly protectionist dogma.
This is remarkable U.S. treatment for a rare friend in South America, where Venezuela’s leftist dictator, Hugo Chavez, can only exult in Uribe’s embarrassment as he builds an anti-American bloc of nations. A former congressional staffer, who in 1999 helped write Plan Colombia to combat narco-guerrillas, told me: “President Uribe may be the odd man out, and that’s no way to treat our best ally in South America.”

This recalls the foreign policy of Jimmy Carter, who famously threw the Shah under the bus and enabled the radical Islamist takeover of Iran. We have a real problem with Chavez in South America, and we should look for allies there to promote our interests. Colombia also has strategic importance in America’s efforts to stamp out narco-trafficking, and Uribe has risked much in assisting in that fight. One might believe that American politicians would at least treat such an ally with respect, but according to Novak, he received contempt.
How so? Al Gore had been scheduled to meet with Uribe at an environmental event in Miami on April 20th. Apparently, this was an event tied to Earthfest, a conference that Gore would normally run over his grandmother in a Prius to attend. Instead, Gore cancelled, claiming that Uribe had involvement with paramilitary forces over a decade ago, which Uribe denied. That apparently signalled the rest of the Democrats to dismiss Uribe and the strategic importance of Colombia to US policy in Latin America.
How bad was the damage? On Uribe’s return, his Vice President remarked that the failure to extend trade agreements showed Latin America how the US treats its allies, and that Colombia would probably have to re-evaluate its relationship to the US. Given that the US has enough pressure from a rising tide of Castro-style socialism in this hemisphere already, that would be a dangerous disaffection at a time we can least afford it.
Besides, everyone knows why the Democrats don’t want to extend trade agreements with the Colombians. The unions oppose free trade in this hemisphere and want to roll back NAFTA and CAFTA. For that matter, so does Duncan Hunter, but the Republican Congressman would know better than to deliberately antagonize a significant ally in a region where we have few enough as it is. If this demonstrates the kind of diplomacy we can expect in a Democratic administration, then Republicans have more reason than ever to look optimistically towards 2008.

16 thoughts on “Democrats Snub Latin American Ally”

  1. The Democrat foreign policy apparatus marches on! At this rate, we’ll have no allies left except for Syria, Iran, and North Korea, and the Democrats won’t be able to blame Bush.

  2. Funny, if we are worried about decades old accusations of involvement with paramilitary folks, should we not be worried about Gore’s involvement with oil companies his entire life?

  3. Our policy of drug eradication (i.e. moving drug growers around) makes a lot of enemies in South America and hasn’t reduced the flow much. Every year there are more acres under cultivation.
    Cocaine prices have steadily declined over the years.
    We have a policy in place that doesn’t work and finances our enemies. Your government at work.
    However, all is not lost. The policy is very popular with the American people.

  4. If one were of the same conspiracy-mongering mindset as so often exhibited on the Left, one might argue that the Democrats are attempting to foment foreign-policy crises that they can later point to as the Administration’s fault.

  5. There’s more to this than just Gore signaling for Pelosi & Co. to ignore President Uribe. As I posted here, the REAL REASON why they didn’t meet with President Uribe is because George Soros ordered them not to.

  6. M. Simon,
    Once again, I disagree with your assessment as to the value of legalizing drug trafficking, regardless of the cost of the commodity or how many acres may come under cultivation. Please quit pushing.
    The people who grow, transport, and sell the stuff are our enemies. Their governments might not be, but they are.

  7. I just wanted to throw my two pesos worth in here, since I have been living and working here in Colombia for quite a few years now. (I am Canadian). Novak, as well as the Washington Post editorial last Sunday are completely correct in my view.
    It is not accurate to state, as someone noted above, that the “paramilitary” accusations are “decades old”…they have been made for as long as I have been here. The thing is that, in all that time, nothing has ever surfaced tying Pres. Uribe to them. It is largely a “guilt by association” argument….a lot of people he was associated with (or even related to) over the years have been to one degree or another involved with the paramilitaries.
    The role of the paramilitaries must not be downplayed. When I came here I thought that the biggest threat to the Colombian state was the FARC, but I came to realize that this was not so. The FARC are a threat to people, the economy and property…they are brutal in their tactics…but they are outside of the State, and really pose no threat. they can hurt the economy, but the government, ultimately (even though there can be setbacks) can control them.
    The paramilitaries, on the other hand, posed, and pose, a real threat to the Colombian state. It is not only their brutality…they are, if it is possible, even more brutal and murderous than the FARC (last week El Tiempo ran a 6 page story about the role of the “paras” in disappearing people…one of the most horrendous facts to emerge was not only that they cut up bodies of those they killed, but that they trained these butchers using living farmers they had captured). The real threat they pose to the State is that they are INSIDE the state…in the political, military and law enforcement institutions. At times, their presence in the Congress left one wondering if they not only were inside the state, but that they WERE the state.
    The exposure of these para-politicians has given the left a lot of ammunition against President Uribe, but it is a double-edged sword. This is because it is under Uribe that the exposure is happening.
    This is what makes the conduct of the Congressional democrats so deplorable.
    What you do not see or hear in the United States is the courage, professionalism and committment of those prosecutors, soldiers and police who are investigating these politicians and paramilitaries (as well as the drug dealers). You have no idea what these guys (men and women) have to face every day…they stories of atrocities, the sadness of disappeared loved ones etc. And, despite the fact that so many of the authors of these are in positions of influence, they pursue them and put them in jail.
    And they get there not because they materialized into these positions…they got there because Uribe started and supports this process…no matter, it seems, where it leads. Many of his political allies are behind bars.
    Every day young soldiers and policemen go out in the field and fight gun battles against FARC, ELN, Narcos, and new paramilitary groups. A month or so ago a group of anti-drug police got into a brutal 3 day firefight with narcos that was so intense that one poor cop recorded a goodbye message on his cell phone to his family…you could hear the bullets whizzing by. (He lived). Yesterday, the FARC blew up a truck carrying policemen going to protect the workers pulling up the coco plant…10 died.
    Just as American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Canadian troops in Afghanistan go out every day to fight, so too do young Colombian soldiers and police. they go out every day and put their lives on the line for their families and their country. And a lot of them get killed.
    In the end, the truth about cocaine is that the demand is fuelled not in Colombia (Colombia is more a drug producing country than a drug using country, though that may be changing) but in the US, Canada and Europe. They are fighting here on the front lines of something that has its end point with us.
    Posturers such as Pelosi, fools such as Reid and empty suits such as Leahy haven’t the standing to polish the shoes of either President Uribe, or the lowliest private fighting in the selva.
    One of the commentators above said Soros had something to do with this. I don’t know. What I believe is that they simply want to skewer anyone who has been an ally of President Bush. Their hatred for the President knows no bounds, and their tactics have no limits. If they can hurt Bush by destroying President Uribe, no sweat. In doing so, they will be condemning a wonderful, warm, creative, ingenious people to more years of Hell. It matters not to them.
    It is difficult to find words in English to describe Congressional democrats, so I will say it in Spanish…desgraciados.
    (Sorry Cap for having run on so long)

  8. C’mon. It’s not about the human rights or the paramilitaries, it’s about the anti-communism.
    FARC is a marxist narco-terrorist group. Chris Dodd and most of the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party (as Kos calls ’em) love leftists, and impeding leftists in any manner whatsoever gets you on The List.
    Why do you think Dodd hates John Negroponte, Otto Reich, and John Bolton? To paraphrase a great man, It’s the Communists, Stupid.
    If the Democrats cared at all about paramilitary death squads and human rights, they wouldn’t be busy sucking up to Hugo Chavez (spreading violent revolution in South & Central America) and Bashir Assad (Hezbollah base, apparently directed various assassinations, directs jihadi traffic into Iraq. (BTW, did anybody see the fawning interview on NBC last night with Assad’s wife? “Do you ever have to pinch yourself and say, “I’m the first lady of Syria”?” I nearly yakked.
    They don’t care about any of that stuff. It’s all about getting in the way of the communists, plain and simple.

  9. There is no doubt that this is about Democrat support for Marxists. In the post-Soviet era, many fewer countries have such a problem, but Columbia of course still does. The paramilitaries were a rational reaction to the terror inflicted by FARC and other such groups, which the government was long unable to control. Now the government is doing better, thanks in part to US assistance, but it shouldn’t a surprise that some para’s would go into the drug trade themselves (or other illegal means of making $$).
    Kerry, Dodd, Kennedy, etc. have a long and uninterrupted history of open support for communist groups. They don’t get called on it because it’s so bizarre– FARC is just a big criminal organization that uses some simplistic marxist message to produce more dedicated fighters. There really is no reason even for radical leftists to back such organizations. Yet, presumably due to a deep-seeded love of communism, Democrats feel compelled to support groups that use the ideology in the most superficial way.
    Of course they’re terrorists, on top of it, but Democrats certainly aren’t concerned by that. A terrorist hoping to anger Democrats would have to be really creative… declaring their love for America might work.

  10. Are the democrats commies or socialists?It seems what we are deemed changes from one day to the next. Since the country voted for the dems to be in charge of Congress I guess most Americans are commies and socialists. Chavez is a tin-horned dictator, but with his oil reserves he makes Bush squirm like a toad. Bonehead Bush has alienated more countries then the Dems ever had. Thats why even the republicans are abandoning that sinking ship. Good thing Bush has the delusional kool-aid drinkers in his corner. I’m sure Nixon had a few “dead-enders” too. Welcome to the srapheap of history. David Gergen just said on CNN that Bush is close to being the Herbert Hoover of his party. Bush will lead his party right back into the wilderness. Iraq will be his legacy.

  11. Our world being made more dangerous by Nancy Pelosi, with scandals of abuse of power on her own plate as she nixes trade agreements with our few allies???
    What is she even doing in office – BY HER OWN STANDARDS of screechings against Tom DeLay???
    WHY is America allowing the Dim Party to be a national political party, anymore???
    WHY are GOP members CATERING to them??? They act like a faithful wife of an alcoholic, staying up all night long to clean up the ravages on the home of his drunken temper fits, after getting home from the ER and having her nose re-set.

  12. Funny, if we are worried about decades old accusations of involvement with paramilitary folks, should we not be worried about Gore’s involvement with oil companies his entire life?
    Posted by: jcrue at May 10, 2007 12:31 PM
    (Former) Moscow resident, Armand Hammer counts for NOTHINGK????
    WVhat iss the wvorld comingk to !

  13. We have a policy in place that doesn’t work and finances our enemies. Your government at work.
    However, all is not lost. The policy is very popular with the American people.
    Posted by: M. Simon at May 10, 2007 01:49 PM
    But we could fix that with a simple Death Penalty for drug peddlers – executed 30 days after being caught red-handed.
    Put a Bounty on the Illegal Alien drug smuggling coyotes, and we could fix this problem toot sweet.
    Lots of us down on the border would love the job of bounty hunting for those guys.

  14. Posted by: conservative democrat at May 10, 2007 09:44 PM
    Get yourself a 1970’s dictionary so you can keep up with the facts.
    Since the DIM REVISIONISTS are cleansing modern dictionaries of basic facts.
    Communism and Nazism are both political parties of Socialism. American Liberal Democrats are all three – Nazi/Commie/Socialists – and they are also Marxist/Humanists, and Enviro-whackos are part of it.
    We see you because ultimately, you are all Stalinists. You never saw a Stalinist plank for the destruction of America that you didn’t love.
    Don’t forget, it was originally HIS idea that your claims to rights for destructive behavior is your legitimate “CIVIL RIGHTS”, no matter how destructive it is to your local community.

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