Exclusive to Power Line: Marco Rubio on the Russian Threat to the Western Hemisphere
Senator Marco Rubio is one of Washington’s leading authorities on Latin America. While most people don’t want to hear much about foreign policy these days, given America’s problems at home, the fact is that years of neglect by the Obama administration have put the U.S. in danger. Some of the threats are perilously close to home, as Senator Rubio explains in this analysis, special to Power Line:
Russia-Cuba Cooperation a Sign of Growing Threats in Latin America
Following the news in recent months has sometimes felt as if we’ve opened a time capsule from the Cold War – when Soviet Union aggression was the norm along with its determination to prop up U.S. adversaries in the Western Hemisphere, most notably the Castro regime in Cuba. Today, Russia under Vladimir Putin has challenged the international order through its unlawful annexation of Crimea and continued provocations against Ukraine. In our own hemisphere, there is growing evidence of Russia’s interest in reconstituting their Cold War-era presence in the region. Just this week, in the wake of Putin’s visit to Havana, reports emerged about Russia’s renewed push to improve intelligence operations in Cuba.
While these Russian actions are concerning in their own right, they are emblematic of a larger problem affecting U.S. interests in the Western Hemisphere. The Obama Administration’s failure to pursue a consistent, meaningful and proactive strategy in Latin America has left a leadership void that not only Russia but also China, Iran, North Korea and others have been able to exploit. In recent years, we’ve seen each of these nations move aggressively to enhance their alliances in the region, and expand their defense and intelligence relationships.
Failing to deal with our adversaries on dangerous threats like these – as well as North Korea’s illicit weapons trafficking alliance with Cuba – will have many consequences that will be felt right here in the Western Hemisphere. For almost six years, the Obama Administration’s neglect of the hemisphere has failed to stem the rise of authoritarianism, the deterioration of democratic order and rampant human rights violations, while emboldening America’s strategic challengers.
The Obama Administration must wake up from its Latin America slumber of the past six years, reinvigorate our alliances, act resolutely when our interests are threatened, and ensure that an emerging foreign policy crisis in Latin America is not left to the next U.S. president to fix. Continuing to ignore this situation, as the Obama Administration has often been inclined to do when threats are starting to emerge, simply won’t make the problem go away. For the sake of America’s interests and the region’s stability, we must rightly elevate Latin America to the level of attention it deserves even as global crises mount.
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