Byline: J.D. Gordon, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES
While President Obama made headlines for downplaying the threat posed by Venezuela's Hugo Chavez to national security, such naive remarks should hardly come as a surprise given his track record.
Though most of Mr. Obama's newsworthy foreign policy proclamations have pertained to the Middle East, Europe and Asia, his judgment calls on Latin America have been equally bad - albeit less frequent and generally underreported. Siding with the Chavez-led leftist alliance on the Honduras coup in 2009 comes to mind.
People are paying attention. After visiting with scores of economic and political scholars from throughout the Western Hemisphere at the 25th anniversary conference of the Bogota-based Instituto Ciencia Politica think tank in late June, it's evident that Mr. Obama is losing Latin America.
Here are five signs why:
Mr. Obama doesn't think Hugo Chavez is a serious threat.
Mr. Obama is either blind to reality, or sees no problem with Venezuela's military buildup, its harboring FARC narcoterrorists and Hezbollah, the strategic partnership with Russia and Iran, and leadership of the eight-nation anti-U.S. Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas (ALBA). Obama-Chavez meetings have been chummy, from their first photo-op with Mr. Chavez presenting Mr. Obama with an anti-colonialist book titled Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent. Ironically, Mr. Obama's autobiography is titled, Dreams From My Father. What were those dreams? As author Dinesh D'Souza points out, Barack Obama Sr.'s own published works show he was also anti-colonialist. Maybe this explains a lot.
Even so, could we ever imagine President Kennedy saying Fidel Castro was not a serious threat? And Mr. Chavez is the new Castro. Speaking of the old Castro, while Mr. Obama touted his Cuba policy to Miami's Americateve A Mano Limpia news program anchor Oscar Haza, the Castro brothers are increasing their rate of jailing peaceful dissidents and continuing to undermine U.S. interests in the region.
Iran and China are on the
rise at our expense.
Iran is making military, economic and diplomatic inroads into Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Cuba and to a lesser extent, Brazil and Argentina. Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has visited Latin America six times since 2007, forging deeper personal ties and signing accords each time. According to a group of Bolivian senators visiting Washington this year, Iran has roughly 100 Revolutionary Guard soldiers training ALBA nations to crush any civil unrest like in Tehran during Iran's Green Revolution in 2009. If Iran gets nuclear weapons, it is entirely plausible they may show up within Shahab-3 missile-striking distance to the U. …