BY: RAHUL MEPANI, CONTRIBUTOR
Drawing significant criticism for not returning back home after the Brussels terrorist attacks, President Obama ventured forward to Argentina where he hoped to debase the tensions between Washington and Buenos Aires as well as vindicate the United States from its previous history of supporting dictatorships and corrupt regimes that crippled Argentina’s growth and development as a country. The president’s visit coincidentally marked the 40th anniversary of the March 24th, 1976, military coup, which furthered the controversy of his presence in the country, a coup that the United States arguably supported. However, President Obama did not just visit President Mauricio Marci “to tango” or “watch a baseball game” as many of his critics have slandered him for, and it’s important to analyze the effects of his visit in the short and long term. Here are some of the key things to take away from the visit:
- The United States and Argentina are finally warming up to each other militarily. President Obama has promised to release and share military data and intelligence regarding how the United States was involved in the 1976 military coup. He stated that the United States was “too slow to stand up for human rights” during the revolution, a 6 month span where an estimated 30,000 people were massacred. But this tactful step by President Obama isn’t simply out of courtesy; it’s in response the burgeoning threat of terrorism while further safeguarding the Western Hemisphere and preventing attacks similar to the devastating ones that occurred in Paris. More recently, Brussels. S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice furthered the idea of coordinated protection when she vowed that Obama would “announce a comprehensive effort to declassify additional documents, including for the first time military and intelligence records … to underscore our shared commitment to human rights.” This “Dirty War” was given its name because thousands of people were captured and tortured for information throughout the decade, and was often imprisoned afterward. This step by the president shows his desire for both the nations to move forward and leave the past as it was.
- Obama is trying to increase bilateral ventures between the two countries. Alongside his cabinet members, President Obama also brought along several CEO’s from top American companies to lay out deals for the future and strengthen ties between American companies and the Argentinean government. Ted Piccone of the Brookings Institute explained his take on the purpose of the Cuba/Argentina trip, saying, “of course they talk about tourism and trade, agriculture, sustainable energy, but I think really the long-term purpose is to rebuild this positive relationship with Argentina and to also signal sort of a possible future for the region as it looks to recover from the end of the commodity boom and a general slowdown in the region’s economy.” In 2013, Argentina was the United States’ 31st largest contributor, accounting for $67 million in good exports, and has gone up ever since.
- The United States is trying to regain a position of strength. “This is a marvelous opportunity for all of the Argentine people to gather and say never again. Never again in Argentina to political violence, never again to institutional violence,” said President Mauricio Marci. Although most Americans haven’t even heard of the “Dirty War,” it has scarred Argentina’s history for the past 40 years, and has hurt the reputation of the United States ever since then in Latin America. President Obama decided, and rightly so, that it was time to improve the relations of our next door allies, especially to counter Russian and Chinese aggression in the Western Hemisphere, where they have been becoming more and more invasive. This visit symbolized the strength of America and its allies as well as it determination to spread democracy and a free enterprise system, not the opposite
Regardless of one’s belief on whether or not President Obama should have returned after the Brussels attack, it is important to realize the potential impact a strong relationship with our Latin American neighbors will have and not just be blinded by the political rhetoric.
Welcome, Rahul, to the Atlas Business Journal. If you have a comment for him, please leave one below. Thanks!