The Americas: Risks and Rewards of Decaying Authoritarianism
April 13, 2012
Pushing regime change in Iraq and Afghanistan cost the United States trillions of dollars and involved the sacrifices of many nations. Regime change is starting to take place on its own in the Western Hemisphere without the loss of thousands of lives or draining the U.S. treasury. However, a good outcome is anything but certain, and the wreckage could prove just as damaging to America’s short-term national security interests as events in the Middle East.
The countries in question are Cuba and Venezuela, and the presumption of risk in regime change seems counterintuitive. After all, both governments have been hostile to the United States and Western-style democracy as long as their current leaders have been in power. Many Americans remember when Cuban president Fidel Castro invited the Soviet Union to install nuclear-tipped, medium-range ballistic missiles on his island. In the last decade, Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez converted his country into a welcome mat for nuclear wannabe Iran to make in-roads in the hemisphere.