2008.04.09: April 9, 2008: Headlines: Figures: COS - Dominican Republic: Politics: Congress: Election2008 - Dodd: US Senator Chris Dodd: Dodd Calls for New Strategic Partnership on the Americas

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Dodd Calls for New Strategic Partnership on the Americas

Dodd Calls for New Strategic Partnership on the Americas

"When Fidel Castro ceded power to his brother Raul, we reached a critical moment. We all now have a choice -- either we engage the Cuban people and leadership to help shape the landscape for the next fifty years, or we remain on the sidelines to no one’s benefit. I believe we must dramatically alter our posture towards Cuba, by ending the trade embargo, lifting travel restrictions and caps on remittances to the struggling Cuban people, and by engaging in bilateral and multilateral talks on issues of mutual interest. The only certainty guaranteed by our Cuba policy over the past forty years has been the continuation of Fidel Castro’s grip on power. Once we embark on this road to reform, I am confident that it will be nearly impossible for the Cuban government and its people to turn back. And the same will be true for us." Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Dominican Republic in the 1960's.

Dodd Calls for New Strategic Partnership on the Americas

Remarks of Senator Christopher J. Dodd

Toward a Strategic Partnership In the Americas

As Prepared For Delivery

For more than four-and-a-half decades, your conferences have provided a topical forum for American and foreign students of international affairs.

I am therefore honored to be your keynote speaker at this forum on Latin America.

Before addressing the subject at hand, allow me to say what an honor it is to be here at the Naval Academy.

For thirty-four years, I have represented our nation’s premier undersea warfare facilities-- Naval Submarine Base New London, the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics, and the Naval Undersea Warfare Center.

As a young boy, I joined my parents at the launching of the nuclear Navy with the commissioning of the U.S.S. Nautilus, and I witnessed my mother christening the U.S.S. Stimson.

My first cousin, Bill McAree, a graduate of the Naval Academy, was one of the chosen few to serve in the nuclear submarine force under Admiral Rickover.

Thus, it is with immense appreciation that I may talk with you, our Navy’s future officer corps and leaders, about another area in which I am particularly connected—Latin America. I urge each of you to explore ways to get more involved in this exciting and promising part of the world.

I speak not simply as an active member of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere for the last 26 years.

But also as someone who played a part in the region’s social and economic development— starting as a former Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic more than 40 years ago.

Today, I am urging all of you to heed a similar call. To pay particular attention to foreign language classes and to learn about foreign cultures and histories.

Many of you I expect will choose a career in the Navy extending well into the 21st century. You will have an opportunity to play key roles in helping shape our relations abroad, not only on standard deployments overseas, but possibly as an attaché in a U.S. embassy, or as a representative at a mission to a multilateral organization, maybe as a military commander in joint allied operations, or as an intelligence officer working in concert with key allies.

Without any doubt there are those of you at this gathering this evening who will help shape the role of the United States globally in this new century.

As Latin America and the United States enter this pivotal transition, I hope that you will begin to take notice of important choices we can make as a nation and as a Navy to influence how this transition will take shape.

For plebs [PLEEBS] and midshipmen alike, I believe that there is no more exciting time than now, to be primed as leaders of our Navy.

We all know that national security is inexorably dependent on American seapower.

As you have no doubt been instructed, a key function of seapower is to project force across the globe. In the Pacific Command’s Area of Responsibility (AOR), for example, such use of seapower has proven particularly important.

Now, as a Senator from the submarine-building state, I could regale you with reasons why submarines must play a critical role in countering China’s growing naval fleet.

But tempting as that is, it would get us off-track from the theme of this year’s foreign policy conference.

There is another critically important role for seapower, aside from force projection– and that is constructive engagement.

It is this role of constructive engagement in the Americas that I wish to address this evening.

As former Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Arleigh Burke said in 1961 on this very campus:

"For in this modern world, the instruments of warfare are not solely for waging war. Far more importantly, they are the means for controlling peace. Naval officers must therefore understand not only how to fight a war, but how to use the tremendous power which they operate to sustain a world of liberty and justice, without unleashing the powerful instruments of destruction and chaos that they have at their command."

Admiral Burke’s declaration is no less true for you today.

When we talk of instruments of power, we must necessarily include diplomacy, especially when conducting joint allied-operations, intelligence sharing, skills training, and, most importantly, the exchange of principled ideals--

Ideals that Admiral Burke called liberty and justice, but that I would expand to include respect for human rights, civilian control of the military, and serving the needs of civil society.

In fact, at this very moment you are taking part in such engagement. Today, 48 foreign students are enrolled at the Naval Academy, from 24 different countries.

Many of these students will be commissioned as officers in their own nations’ militaries. In the same vein, this past academic year, 25 midshipmen enrolled in classes overseas in 11 different countries.

We must expand these initiatives to exchange cultural ideas, and build mutual trust as a foundation for long-standing ties among our future military leaders.

My hope is that Latin America becomes an integral part of these programs.

When it comes to the military, there is no region of the world where our Armed Forces are better equipped to take on missions of political engagement than in Latin America.

Of all the combatant commands, Southern Command has a proven track record of working with other U.S. agencies in diplomatic and law enforcement missions, operating closely with the Departments of State and Treasury, as well as the Drug Enforcement Agency.

But we have not always employed the appropriate mix of force projection and constructive engagement.

In fact, for 185 years, the United States has cited the Monroe Doctrine as the basis for repelling foreign intervention, and singularly dominating the affairs of Latin America.

We didn’t dominate hemispheric affairs out of vanity—we did so because we concluded that domination was the best way to pursue and secure our interests.

With the rise of “Battleship Diplomacy” in the early 20th century, we often advanced our strategic and commercial objectives for the region through the 12-inch barrels of our battleship cannons.

Sometimes at the request of Latin American nations themselves, our Navy and Marine Corps warded off the influence of foreign powers in the hemisphere.

In 1898, the United States launched the Spanish-American war— America’s first time fighting a war against a major power entirely outside of our territory.

It was also the first American war conducted under a naval-based plan rather than an army plan.

In the end, this 113-day war marked an important milestone for both U.S. fleet tactics and the hemisphere:

By resoundingly expelling a European power, we established U.S. Naval supremacy in the hemisphere, and proved the importance of modern fleet tactics, honed at the U.S. Naval War College.

A couple of decades later, the United States constructed the Panama Canal, perhaps the greatest legacy of American Naval power.

While truly an engineering marvel, it also initially served American mercantilist interests. After World War I, traffic through the canal increased to five-thousand ships a year and has grown ever since, connecting key U.S. shipping routes for multi-national corporations.

From its very inception, until 1979, the canal was operated and patrolled by the United States. But it was established by our military, and built on land that we helped a secessionist Panama withdraw from Colombia.

Many would argue that this approach advanced our interests in the Americas—and it very well may have. But over the last century, this approach also bred resentment and distrust.

In hindsight, U.S. policy too often resorted to military and economic intervention for the narrowest of political and commercial reasons— evolving into the proxy fights of the Cold War, arbitrated not on the shores of the United States and the Soviet Union – but on the battlefields of Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.

During these years, the U.S. government allegedly backed political assassinations in Argentina, armed regimes known to have committed gross human rights violations including Pinochet’s Chile, and instigated coups against democratically elected governments. We were retreating from our most enduring democratic principles.

More recently, since the fall of the Soviet Union, US foreign policy in the region has evolved even further, to view Latin America only through three narrow lenses:

* Elections,

* Trade,

* and Drugs.

In my view, this construct is based on a deeply flawed analysis—not only of Latin American history and society, but also, of how best to pursue our national interests in this new era, in this new century.

This flawed analysis assumes Latin America to be a monolith – and sees political development only in the narrow sense of elections, rather than in the broad sense of civil society and institutions, of social contracts and the rule of law.

This flawed analysis also sees “free trade” as a panacea to Latin America’s social and economic woes, instead of embracing holistic development, which includes not only trade, but also institution-building, infrastructure, education, foreign aid and direct investment.

And lastly, the current analysis says “stay the course” in our failed policies of drug eradication and demand- reduction (both at home and abroad) instead of strengthening civilian law enforcement and justice institutions, replacing black market economies with legitimate economic investment, and creating smarter anti-drug programs.

I understand and accept that Elections, Trade, and Drugs will need to remain necessary components of any new policy in the region.

But alone, they have never been sufficient for bringing about real holistic change that the hemisphere requires, that its people demand, and that serves our interests.

Compounding this flawed analysis is perhaps an equally flawed conclusion: America’s influence in the world is waning.

In my assessment, I see something very different. I see, as Farheed Zakaria has argued, not the diminishing power of the United States, but rather, the increasing influence of the rest of the world.

This is to be celebrated because it means for example a Europe that is more self-sufficient, more capable of handling its own economic interests and increasingly, its own security—to the benefit of the United States. Clearly our interests are enhanced through a stronger Europe.

The same can be said for a strong Latin America.

Certainly, no one would argue that Latin America’s development today is comparable to that of the European Union.

But a stronger, more prosperous and democratic Latin America that can handle it’s own political, social and economic affairs is in everyone’s interests, especially our own.

I do not suggest that Latin America is more important than Europe, let alone China, or East Asia, or that Latin America should demand more of our attention than other regions of the world.

But I will make a case that Latin America is of critical importance to the United States, and our continued engagement with the region is vital.

Our southern neighbors are closer than ever to completing the transition to stable, democratic civil societies, ones with social contracts, whose governments are responding to the demands of their people.

They are beginning to tackle crime and violence, promising to reduce poverty and inequality, and working to end impunity by extending the rule of law to its citizens.

With the exception of Cuba, every nation in the Western Hemisphere has a democratically elected government. And Latin Americans are taking advantage of the right to vote.

Given the burgeoning conditions of these democracies, how will we in the United States adjust our worldview and our policies towards our neighbors in order to promote our mutual interests without stifling this progress?

Will we seek to dominate the hemisphere, or will we work in partnership to help our neighbors fully manage and complete their transition, in a partnership that advances all of our interests?

The answer should be clear to all of us.

I believe the time has arrived to start fresh and forge a new “strategic partnership in the Americas,” based on mutual respect and a commitment to three key principles:

* public security and the rule of law;

* reduction in poverty and inequality; and

* energy integration and innovation;

A Common Public Security Agenda

Any notion of public security should include physical security from crime, political violence, and narco-terrorism. But long-term security is immutably linked as well to the Rule of Law, for safeguarding civil society requires reliable and effective civilian institutions, including a dependable police force, an impartial judicial system, and a trustworthy military under civilian control.

These institutions will serve as critical stabilizing forces to ensure that free peoples can govern themselves and that their rights are protected not by force or favor.

Beyond institution building, the Americas need to dismantle environments in which criminality thrives.

Hidden economies, rife with corruption and lawlessness tend to serve as petri dishes in which drug traffickers, terrorists and gangs thrive—almost like micro versions of failed states within a larger country.

In my view, the Administration should be credited for proposing a new bilateral agreement called the Mérida initiative to address these exact concerns in Mexico.

Unfortunately, this plan was concocted under the old “war on drugs” paradigm without striving to address a more comprehensive notion of public security and the rule of law.

The Mérida initiative will never succeed if we do not work to put in place adequate institutions that can systemically address public security and the rule of law.

Latin America will need well-trained and equipped military forces to confront the most violent criminals.

But I would strongly argue that the region also needs equally well-trained and equipped police and civilian authorities in a robust justice system to enforce and uphold the rule of law.

Colombia still struggles with the demobilization of paramilitaries, impunity and other human rights violations.

It has made progress towards advancing its citizens’ security and establishing the rule of law.

Colombia has faced a 40-year onslaught waged by powerful terrorist organizations bent on destroying the state.

Thousands of citizens were murdered and kidnapped. In one particularly brazen instance, guerillas linked to the Medellin drug cartel laid siege to the Colombian Palace of Justice for 26 hours, and assassinated eleven Supreme Court Justices.

In light of a violent history, and in light of the complex challenges still facing Colombia, it seems to me our narrow focus on a bilateral trade agreements makes little sense. Bilateral trade with the United States is important, but it’s only one element.

“Free Trade” between Colombia and America is not a panacea—we should stop selling it as such.

President Uribe of Colombia has focused his efforts on engaging the United States, but he needs to apply the same energy engaging his neighbors.

President Uribe needs to spend as much time travelling to Argentina, Brazil and other neighbors as frequently as he travels to Washington.

In doing so, he will be forging deeper political, social and economic relationships.

Latin America’s security, and economic future isn’t just tied to bilateral deals with the United States.

Regional trade and political engagement will far better serve everyone’s interests along with independently negotiated and instituted trade deals with the United States.

An episode along the Colombia-Ecuador border demonstrated just weeks ago, that public security also requires Latin American nations and key regional organizations engage in robust diplomacy with one another to effectively handle and contain their own security challenges—and when they do so, all of our interests are advanced.

With the leadership of ad-hoc organizations like the Rio Group and through the Organization of American States (OAS), Latin American diplomats were able to defuse tensions that could have boiled over into a serious regional conflict.

In the end, Colombia issued an apology and Ecuador walked back from its explosive rhetoric.

In addition, Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, who was trying to enflame tensions by casting himself as a protector of Latin America from an imperial United States and its ally Colombia, was instead exposed as a political instigator.

Soon-to-be-released evidence captured during the raid into Ecuador will likely uncover whether and to what extent President Chavez has been assisting the narco-terrorist FARC organization.

I believe that this case illustrates an important lesson to us all — one that I regret to say is not all that new.

We are far more likely to achieve our goals when we join a multilateral coalition than when we saber-rattle and allow ourselves to be cast as the strawman.

Because Latin Americans resolved this incident, unclouded by apparent U.S. intervention or presumed ulterior motives, our interests were actually advanced. Political stability was restored and the FARC’s capabilities were damaged.

President Hugo Chavez’s greatest fear is regional isolation.

That is why before jumping in a unilateral fashion to add Venezuela to the U.S. State Department’s official list of state sponsors of terrorism, which would be symbolic at best, and only serve as fodder for Chavez’s distractions, we should instead enlist support from key regional players to collectively address regional challenges.

This lesson of statecraft extends beyond our dealings with regional troublemakers. In developing a common public security agenda, it is critical that we look for ways to expand military ties with regional partners.

Regrettably, we have allowed a tertiary dispute over the International Criminal Court to restrict our military’s ability to make such connections to fully engage with counterparts in Latin America.

I recognize that there are legitimate concerns with the International Criminal Court.

But as General Craddock, formerly of SOUTHCOM, has acknowledged, it makes no sense to prevent military-to-military contact with countries that need our assistance but have not entered into bilateral “Article 98” agreements that immunize American troops from prosecution and extradition to the ICC.

It is long past time we resolve this dispute and allow our military to do its job, so that as future military leaders, you can more fully engage with your counterparts in this hemisphere.

Engaging with regional leaders and strengthening regional institutions does not just increase our public security, it is also an essential element in tackling the second element of this new paradigm: Poverty and inequality.

Tackling Poverty and Inequality

Poverty and inequality in the western hemisphere continue to be among the most destructive forces in the region.

Forty percent of Latin Americans live in poverty, approximately 100 million of Latin Americans live on less than $2 a day.

Inequality also plagues our hemisphere. Income and wealth disparities in Latin America are the worst in the world.

Social and economic exclusion are rampant, fostering conditions in which political radicalism thrives and crime rates soar to six times greater than the rest of the world.

As a result of these debilitating conditions, millions of Latin Americans have emigrated from the region in search of better opportunities—nearly 100 million have left since World War Two.

In 2005, 22 million Latin Americans worked in the developed world, returning $54 billion in remittances – more than all the foreign direct investment and foreign aid for the entire region.

While this money helps many families survive, it cannot replace economic growth through sustainable development.

Our seemingly singular focus on free trade for the region is not achieving the holistic results it promised—and I think it’s clear it never could.

Trade is just one component to economic growth.

But beyond trade, our hemisphere’s record on fighting poverty and inequality is indeed grim.

Fortunately, over the last two decades, Latin American nations have embraced democratic principles.

Social contracts now bind these governments to respond to the needs of their citizens and address poverty and inequality.

As part of these social contracts, Latin Americans are increasingly demanding that their governments make key investments-- in local infrastructure, education, public health, as well as the critical institutions for promoting the rule of law.

Such initiatives will hopefully create jobs and sustainable growth. I have long held the view that in the final analysis, the best social program for any country, is a good job.

But, Latin America has not made adequate investments in technology, necessary to compete in the 21st century. In fact, a mere 1 percent of the world investment’s in research and development goes to Latin America – South Korea alone spends more on R&D than does all of Latin America.

While its economic growth has been a brisk 5 percent over the last half decade, it still lags behind Africa, putting Latin America dead last in terms of economic growth measured against the rest of the developing world.

At the margins, the United States must play an important role in helping to foster sustainable growth, through private investment, increased foreign aid, and support of the Inter-American Development Bank.

As a starting point for transitioning Latin America to the new economy, we should look to powers in the region who have developed technological innovations to utilize their alternative energy resources.

In addition to freeing countries from the shackles of oil dependence, these innovations are creating thousands of new jobs.

And so a third component of our new paradigm, therefore, must be a region-wide energy dialogue that focuses on two key goals— greater energy integration and the development of alternative energy sources and technologies.

Energy Integration and Innovation

I hardly need to explain our own energy concerns, as gas prices continue to skyrocket.

I would note what many fail to recognize—Latin America supplies more oil to the United States than the Middle East.

Some fifty percent of our oil imports come from the western hemisphere.

With oil prices at a record high and few signs that they will recede, there is an increasing danger of what Tom Friedman calls the “First Law of Petropolitics” – that is, as oil prices rise, freedom declines in certain countries rich with oil resources.

This is because these regimes no longer have to open themselves to foreign investment or educate and empower their people in order to gain wealth and stay in power.

While this is not a hard and fast rule, it certainly applies to Venezuela.

What we have been too slow realize is that renewable energy can also advance our national security, while lessening all of our dependence on unsavory regimes who happen to be rich in fossil fuels.

To better serve all of our energy and security needs, the United States should ramp up our own commitment to funding alternative energy research, and work with our regional partners to achieve the most efficient use and distribution of energy.

One way we can achieve these goals is by building trans-national pipelines to better integrate our energy. Here, the Inter-American Development Bank can and has been helpful in supporting both import and export of our energy resources.

Over the longer term, we must look to a future beyond oil and natural gas-- not only to protect our planet, but also to modernize our economy, and fuel future generations.

And I believe that nuclear power should be part of this equation.

Today, only about 3 percent of Latin America’s electricity comes from nuclear power.

Despite the legitimate controversy this subject creates, its efficiency, enormous capacity, and relatively clean emissions are difficult to ignore.

Already, Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico are planning expansion of their nuclear capacity. And Chile may be next.

The United States should work with our neighbors to address environmental and safety concerns through technical assistance to ensure that nuclear power is safe, secure and effective.

But United States also stands to gain from advances made by our Latin American neighbors in alternative and renewable energy.

In this respect one of our neighbors is already working to secure our collective future, and advance our national interests— Brazil.

In three years’ time, the flex-fuel car market in Brazil went from comprising only about 6 percent of that market to three-quarters of cars on Brazilian roads.

Why? Because their government demonstrated bold leadership and resourcefulness.

It is time for the rest of the Americas to do the same. We must continue expanding our capacity to developing more affordable, sustainable alternative sources of energy.

The Common Thread: Engagement

The common thread tying all of these initiatives together is bold engagement.

Working towards a common agenda on public security and the rule of law; reducing poverty and inequality; and energy integration and innovation, all require sustained engagement with every member of the hemisphere.

If bold engagement in the Americas is to work—there must be mutual respect.

The Strategic Partnership for the Americas which I have just outlined, can begin in one place— Cuba.

Our Cuba policy has been agonizingly static for almost fifty years.

It has neither served America’s interests nor brought democracy to the island.

When Fidel Castro ceded power to his brother Raul, we reached a critical moment.

We all now have a choice -- either we engage the Cuban people and leadership to help shape the landscape for the next fifty years, or we remain on the sidelines to no one’s benefit.

I believe we must dramatically alter our posture towards Cuba, by ending the trade embargo, lifting travel restrictions and caps on remittances to the struggling Cuban people, and by engaging in bilateral and multilateral talks on issues of mutual interest.

The only certainty guaranteed by our Cuba policy over the past forty years has been the continuation of Fidel Castro’s grip on power.

Once we embark on this road to reform, I am confident that it will be nearly impossible for the Cuban government and its people to turn back.

And the same will be true for us.

Ladies and Gentlemen of Annapolis, forging a new relationship with our southern neighbors is a daunting task.

I can think of no better representatives of American goodwill and leadership than our Navy’s future leaders to answer this call.

In spite of past missteps, let us not forget that it is not just we Americans who want a new relationship.

As you travel around this hemisphere, and you stumble across the many Avenidas de Kennedy winding throughout the cities of Latin America, I hope that, like me, you too will be humbled by the spirit of friendship and admiration that exists for the ideals that is America at its best.

And remember, the person for whom these avenues was named was a young naval officer who became our 35th President.

We may not know the names of the new avenues built during this new century, but we know where they should start.

And we know where they must lead.

Let us begin our journey down that path.

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Story Source: US Senator Chris Dodd

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