Toward a New Foreign Policy

Article excerpt

Key Recommendations

* The U.S. should adopt a doctrine of hemispheric relations that redirects resources from military installations toward social programs.

* Short of such a foundational shift, base agreements should require specific missions, fixed periods, discussion by civil society, U.S. responsibility for environmental cleanup, and approval by U.S. and host nation legislatures.

* Democratic principles call for ending the bombing in Vieques.

To live up to its democratic ideals, the U.S. should adopt a new doctrine of military policy in Latin America and the Caribbean. Such a doctrine would value ties with civilians more than ties with the military. It would dedicate more resources to addressing the economic causes of conflict, rather than to building installations designed for the use of force. It would also commit the U.S. to transparency about the purposes, activities, and effects of existing U.S. military bases in the region.

U.S. military facilities represent tangible commitments to underlying policies that are outmoded--as in the case of Cuba--or perniciously expansionist. The SouthCom briefing, which guides the Army's military presence in the region, highlights U.S. concern with access to strategic resources, especially oil, as well as other issues with social and political roots such as immigration and narcotics. A different doctrine would redirect resources invested in military bases to civilian agencies whose charter is to address such social and political problems, including nongovernmental organizations, local and regional agencies of the region's governments, and agencies of the United Nations. This would entail important changes for the Andean Counternarcotics Initiative, consistent with proposals to redirect military and police assistance to alternative agriculture and other development programs in the Andes and to drug treatment and health programs in the United States.

Short of such a reexamination of the policy foundations for military bases in the region, the U.S. should review existing agreements for overseas bases using democratic criteria. Bases should not be maintained or established without broad consultation and agreement of the civil societies and legislatures in which these bases are located. Without such consultation and agreement, the bases are a usurpation of democratic control within the host society. Objectionable provisions, such as broad U.S. military access to the host nation's ports and air space, diplomatic immunity for U.S. military personnel, and prohibitions on access or inspections by local authorities, should be deleted. Bases should be established only for fixed periods of time with clearly defined missions, and these mission mandates should require renewal by both U. …