Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Cartagena summit: Where does Pres BO stand on the Falklands

The Latin America summit in Cartagena has turned into a massively embarrassing episode for the US.  

First, the "prostitution" scandal is a real problem because security can not be breached. 

Second, there were no agreements because Pres BO spent most of his time on the defensive about Cuba and drug legalization.  

Let me be fair to Pres BO.  All of this love with Cuba is posturing to the left and not very serious.  All of the talk about drug legalization is a distraction.   Nevertheless, these two issues isolated Pres BO from most leaders.

Third, Pres BO, who was once opposed to free trade agreements like NAFTA or the CFTA for purely political reasons, now finds himself telling Latin American leaders that they shouldn't oppose free trade agreements for purely political reasons.   (Wonder how strange that is?)

We were happy to hear Pres Calderon's warning about protectionism.   However, Pres BO has a big credibility problem when it comes to protectionism.  Unlike Pres Bush, who fought to open markets and increase trade, Pres BO used free trade agreements to score political points in the US.  (My guess is that a lot of Latin Americans remember his calls to renegotiate NAFTA and the attacks on the Colombia Free Trade Agreement)

However, the big issue that came out of Cartagena was the Falklands or Malvinas.  This is the one problem that will haunt Pres BO, specially the next time he is sitting down with the UK about supporting US military operations in Afghanistan or an attack on Iran.  

They are very concerned in the UK over the Falklands because of Pres BO's statement:

""And in terms of the Maldives or the Falklands, whatever your preferred term, our position on this is that we are going to remain neutral. We have good relations with both Argentina and Great Britain, and we are looking forward to them being able to continue to dialogue on this issue. But this is not something that we typically intervene in."

Keep in mind that the UK is our # 1 military ally.  It was PM Blair and the UK that courageously supported Pres Bush in Iraq.   He did the same with Afghanistan.  They will be asked to do the same if we have to hit Iran's nuclear facilities.

I'd agree that the Falklands/Malvinas issue should be settled diplomatically but it may not be, specially if another Argentine president decides to use the islands to rally public opinion.

We are already seeing some signals that Pres Fernandez of Argentina is getting very irrational, such as going after foreign companies

Like Pres Reagan, Pres BO will ultimately support the UK because he has no choice.  The UK is our # 1 and Argentina isn't.

Pres BO's decision to support the UK over Argentina will disappoint lots of people in Latin America who got invested in the "si se puede" nonsense, or the idea that Obama was different.

My guess is that Pres BO, and "the dancing Hillary", are hoping that Argentina and the UK wait until 2013 to go to war.  In other words, Pres BO & Sec HC are hoping that Pres Romney gets to deal with that issue next year.

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