Article in The National Interest

Soft Balancing Latin America

My new policy piece with Max Paul Friedman is online at The National Interest: Why U.S. Leaders Don’t Need to Fear Latin American ‘Soft Balancers.”


From the article: “Commentators have largely overlooked the important role Latin American diplomacy played in pushing Washington to change its fifty-six-year-old policy. This is a mistake, because Latin America’s role in influencing U.S.-Cuban relations holds larger implications for how the United States views diplomatic opposition from Latin America and elsewhere. During the last two decades, Latin American states undermined the legitimacy of Washington’s policies, raised their costs and pressured for a new approach. As Kerry noted more diplomatically in his press conference with his Cuban peer, “I thank our friends from around the hemisphere who have urged us—in some cases, for decades—to restore our diplomatic ties and who have warmly welcomed our decision to do so.” Cuba was more than a symbolic issue. The embargo’s unilateralism, and the extraterritoriality with which it was often implemented, damaged Latin Americans’ interests and offended their commitment to the principle of national sovereignty. For the United States, the opening to Cuba improves the U.S. position vis-à-vis rising Chinese influence by creating new investment opportunities and enhancing U.S. prestige. The dramatic policy change, made under Latin American pressure, is the most recent example of how U.S. interests can benefit, paradoxically, from successful opposition by foreign countries pursuing the “soft balancing” of U.S. power.”

Read the rest at The National Interest.


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