Recommendations for a New Administration

Interests, Policies, and Challenges in the Americas

Ideally, foreign policy should be linked to a national security strategy that helps a country safeguard national interests and prevail in a competitive global environment.  Following national security reforms in the 1980s, that has been nominally the case for the United States.  Yet for most of the twentieth century, the U.S. engagement with American neighbors has been episodic, reactive, and inconsistent.  Early in the twentieth century, the United States occupied Haiti and Nicaragua to calm unstable situations.  During the Cold War, the Americas became a target of Soviet subversion, and U.S. policies responded by countering Moscow's advances.  After the demise of Soviet communism, the region's democratic advances opened up the possibility of trade and cooperation.  During the last decade, security reemerged to address specific concerns over terrorism and narcotics trafficking.  Now, the era of obvious needs and big ideas seems to be over.

Stephen Johnson