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Parag Khanna: Well, America obviously has maintained, either formally or loosely, this notion of the Monroe Doctrine for a couple of centuries now; that it alone would dictate affairs in the western hemisphere, or at least that no foreign power could intervene.

Recently when it became clear that Chinese investment and Chinese backing for certain governments, such as that in Venezuela, and the way in which China’s import of Latin American raw materials was providing a lot of liquid capital to Latin American countries, and allowing them to pay off the math and shun Washington’s influence, that led to a lot of concern at the State Department and to senior officials.

They said we don’t want to you undermining our democracy agenda for the region. And China said we are just doing business. So, as of yet, we haven't seen a lot of things happening in Latin America that may not otherwise happen.

The Chavez phenomenon would have happened independently, obviously, of China. [Hugo] Chavez can talk about China and how he wants to replace America as the destination for Venezuela and oil, but of course that’s not going to happen. The vast majority of Venezuela oil still goes to United States. We're a lot more close to Venezuela than China is.

So in the long term, there is to some extent, China could weaken America’s leverage in the region because it creates the conditions where financial independence from America. But in the longer term, I think we have to take responsibility for the failures of our own policies the region, not blame on someone else.

 

Recorded on: 3/3/2008

 

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