The Obama Administration and the Americas: Agenda for Change

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The Obama administration inherits a daunting set of domestic and international policy challenges. It would be tempting to put Latin America and the Caribbean on the back burner, for their nations pose no imminent security threat nor do they seem at first blush critical to the most pressing problems of U.S. foreign policy. The Obama Administration and the Americas, however, argues that the new administration should focus early and strategically on Latin America.

Our neighbors to the south impact daily on the lives of U.S. citizens, on issues such as energy, narcotics, immigration, trade, and jobs. And these are the countries most likely to partner with Washington on the basis of shared values, culture, and interests. Recognized experts from Latin America, the United States, and Europe suggest in this timely volume that the United States should seize an early opportunity to engage Latin
America, recognizing the region's diversity but also its shared concerns and aspirations.

The consolidation of stable democracies and rule of law in Latin America has long been an expressed goal of both parties in Washington, but the backlash from Iraq, the global financial crisis, and other recent experiences may discourage the use of U.S. influence and assistance to nurture democratic governance. The authors emphasize case-by-case, sophisticated, and multilateral approaches to dealing with such hard cases as Bolivia, Colombia, Cuba, Haiti, Mexico, and Venezuela.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Useful survey of inter-American relations." — Times Literary Supplement

"This excellent book is especially welcome at a time when Latin America hopes for significant changes in U.S. foreign policy. Written by scholars and practitioners with a deep understanding of Latin American societies and politics, it will help craft a more constructive relationship between the region and the United States It tackles the 'hard cases' —Bolivia, Colombia, Cuba, Haiti, Mexico, and Venezuela —and provides broad regional and historical perspectives as well." —Fernando Henrique Cardoso, President of Brazil, 1995-2003

"An excellent contribution for thinking about Latin American-United States relations from a new perspective. Is it finally possible, through frank dialogue, to build a new partnership in the Americas? The authors of this timely book give a promising and hopeful response." —Ricardo Lagos, President of Chile, 2000-06

"This useful volume by a stellar group of experts should be warmly welcomed by the Obama administration as it tries to reset the course of U.S. policy toward the Americas based on mutual respect and convergence of interests." —Ambassador Thomas Pickering, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, 1997-2001

"This timely, pragmatic volume recommends a more strategic U.S. approach to Latin America based on constructive and focused inter-American partnerships on the issues that matter most to our people's daily lives, such as democracy and the rule of law, energy, immigration, jobs, and the environment. An excellent addition to the reading list for policymakers, analysts and practitioners alike —and another sterling contribution from top scholars of the Western Hemisphere." —Thomas "Mack" McLarty, White House Special Envoy for the Americas, 1996-98

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780815703099
  • Publisher: Brookings Institution Press
  • Publication date: 3/17/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 252
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Abraham F. Lowenthal is a professor of international relations at the University of Southern California and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Theodore J. Piccone is a senior fellow and deputy director for Foreign Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution and an adviser to the Club of Madrid.

Laurence Whitehead is an official fellow in politics at Nuffield College at the University of Oxford and editor of the Oxford Studies in Democratisation series.

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Table of Contents

Foreword Strobe Talbott Talbott, Strobe

Pt. I Overview

1 Renewing Cooperation in the Americas Abraham F. Lowenthal Lowenthal, Abraham F. 1

2 Building a Constructive Inter-American Partnership Daniel Zovatto Zovatto, Daniel 22

3 Supporting Democracy in the Americas: The Case for Multilateral Action Theodore J. Piccone Piccone, Theodore J. 47

Pt. II Getting Down to Hard Cases

4 Seven Steps to Improve U.S.-Colombia Relations Michael Shifter Shifter, Michael 69

5 Human Rights and Free Trade in Colombia Rodrigo Pardo Pardo, Rodrigo 83

6 Haiti's Political Outlook: What the United States Should Do Daniel P. Erikson Erikson, Daniel P. 96

7 Responding to the Challenges in Haiti Juan Gabriel Valdes Valdes, Juan Gabriel 109

8 Cuba in Transition: The Role of External Actors Marifeli Perez-Stable Perez-Stable, Marifeli 119

9 Turning the Symbol Around: Returning Guantanamo Bay to Cuba Bert Hoffmann Hoffmann, Bert 136

10 Engaging Venezuela: 2009 and Beyond Jennifer McCoy McCoy, Jennifer 145

11 The United States and Bolivia: Test Case for Change George Gray Molina Molina, George Gray 167

12 The Rule of Law in Mexico: Challenges for the Obama Administration Carlos Elizondo Elizondo, Carlos Ana Laura Magaloni Magaloni, Ana Laura 183

Pt. III Looking Ahead

13 A Project for the Americas Laurence Whitehead Whitehead, Laurence 203

Contributors 225

Index 227

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