Search This Blog

Thursday, 8 May 2014

The Face of Empire in Latin America (Part 1)

In his landmark post-colonial work Culture and Imperialism, the world renowned public intellectual and critical theorist Edward Said wrote, “Just as none of us is outside or beyond geography, none of us is completely free from the struggle over geography. That struggle is complex and interesting because it is not only about soldiers and cannons but also about ideas, about forms, about images and imaginings.”

Here, Said is highlighting a fundamental aspect of the hegemony of the Western imperial system in the late 20th and early 21st Centuries: the need for dominance over the physical, political, and discursive space. Specifically, Said argued correctly that contemporary imperialism seeks far more than simply control over land and resources – it seeks a monopoly on information, ideology, and language.

Nowhere is this fact more apparent than in what used to be considered the United States’ imperial backyard: Latin America. The untimely death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, the great unifier of Latin America in the 21st Century, did little to stem the tide of independence from US political and economic institutions. In fact, it seems that the independent-minded leaders of Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and other countries in the region, have followed Chavez’s lead in retaking control over their nations’ futures. From the expulsion of US military and intelligence forces, to Latin American governments’ taking on powerful multinational corporations, indications that the region is more independent than ever before are now unmistakable.

And so, it is against this backdrop that Washington attempts to reassert its control either directly through its military, or indirectly through destabilizations using a vast array of weapons of “soft power.” It is precisely this “soft power” – the ability to influence events using non-military, non-coercive means – that is at the forefront of the US strategy to maintain hegemony in Latin America. Taken in tandem, Washington’s cocktail of hard and soft power is at the root of the US’s Latin American policy today.


No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...