by Andres Oppenheimer
If political biographies of recent U.S. presidents and top foreign policy officials are any indication of what goes
on in their mind -- and I think they are -- the new book by former Secretary of State
Rice, whose boss President
Granted, the United States suffered its worst attack since Pearl Harbor in 2001, during Rice's tenure as National Security Advisor. That would have changed any U.S. administration's foreign policy priorities.
But Rice's book is not too different from other political memoirs by recent U.S. presidents and top foreign policy makers. Consider:
- Glancing through Bush's recently released memoir Decision Points, I doubt that the pages referring to Latin America add up to 0.5 of the paperback edition's 497 pages. I couldn't find one single reference to Brazil, or its most recent leaders, on Bush's book index. There are only a few paragraphs about Venezuela, and scattered references to Mexico and Chile, mostly linked to the latter two countries' votes at the
- In former President
- In former Secretary of State
To be sure, Rice's just-released memoir contains some candid references to Latin American leaders that make an interesting read.
Writing about the year 2007, she describes Argentina's presidential couple as "the ever-difficult Kirchners."
Referring to the leaders she met at the 2006 inauguration of former Chilean President
Rice admits that by the end of Bush's first term, in 2004, Venezuelan President
Of course, Bush ended his second term without ever fulfilling his vow to turn Latin America into a foreign policy priority.
And one can already anticipate that President
My opinion: There is no question that Washington had no choice but to focus on Islamic terrorism following the 9/11 attacks, or that the United States will have to look at Asia as its biggest challenge -- and opportunity -- in the near future.
But the United States exports three times more to Latin America than to China, according to U.S. figures. Altogether, the Western Hemisphere already accounts for 43 percent of U.S. exports, and with Latin American countries growing and their middle classes expanding rapidly, that percentage is likely to increase significantly.
In addition, the Western Hemisphere is the source of about 50 percent of U.S. oil imports, and the No. 1 foreign problem when it comes to immigration, drugs or violent gang activity. Latin America deserves more than 2 percent of U.S. leaders' attention.
"Condoleezza Rice Book Shows 'Inattention' to Latin America"