July 22, 2015
A stable and prosperous Americas is critical to US security and prosperity. In recent years, the United States has failed to defend its interests and promote American values, forfeiting US leadership on democracy and strategic relationships on energy and trade. This disengagement has contributed to economic decline, insecurity, instability, disintegrating institutions, corruption, and the erosion of human rights in some countries.
The vacuum created by US disengagement has been filled by China and chavismo—an anti-US movement inspired and funded by the late Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chávez. Authoritarian, anti-US governments have been able to subsist by relying on China and by dismantling democratic institutions. The economic decline in many Latin American countries—even in the global giant, Brazil—is fresh evidence that statist or socialist formulas are recipes for failure. So, there is an opportunity for US leadership to contribute to an economic rebound among critical partners. Mindful of the fact that chavismo was fed by the failures of corrupt, crony capitalism, US policy should consciously promote market economics and democratic institutions that empower people from all walks of life.
What the next US president does to jumpstart US engagement to protect our security and project our values in the Americas could herald a recovery of leadership in the world. In order to be a credible advocate for such solutions with our neighbors, the United States must first recover its commitment to free-market policies and fiscal discipline at home.
Read the full article at the American Enterprise Institute: 5 questions every presidential candidate should answer: Latin America and the Caribbean edition