America’s battle against Islamic extremists in the Middle-East has never been a secret. The Arab uprising worried the States, as the threat of Al-Qaeda gaining influence in such countries became a very real danger. Where the U.S would once have been happy to see these vile dictators hold onto power in the Middle-East – for the simple reason that they were allies against potential Al-Qaeda linked groups in the area – they now had to take a stance because the attention of the world was brought to the suffering of the North African citizens living in these countries. The billions of dollars of aid pumped into some of these Middle-East countries by the American government (notably, 15-20% of the Egyptian Armed forces budget is American money – $1.3billion annually) ensures that America has some much needed allies in the Middle-East.
It is ironic then, that America is so determined to fund these corrupt leaders in order for political support, yet they have been unable to buy favour from one of their closest neighbours – Cuba. Not that buying favour, as such, has been their tactic in taming Cuba. Instead, they have opted to try and oust their long-serving leader Fidel Castro on many occasions (if the documentary ‘638 Ways to Kill Castro’ is to be believed, then, well… 638!). The most notable of these attempted assassinations and overthrows is of course The Bay of Pigs Invasion of 1961, in which the CIA funded an invasion and overthrow of Fidel Castro, which was a great failure and embarassment to America. Since then, Castro has always been wary of American hostility. Relations between the two nations have not improved.
Since the Monroe doctrine was written in 1823, which declared the USA to be isolationist and keen to avoid confrontation with other nations, the States has tried to subtly manipulate Latin America and ensure that no country – especially none of the traditional European colonialists- could gain a foothold on the doorstep of the USA. However, over the years, this has resulted in countless American interventions in almost every single Latin American country, from the overthrow of anti-American revolutionary Augusto Sandino in Nicaragua, in favour of right-wing dictator Samoza in the 1930s, to the intervention in the civil war in El-Salvador in the 1980s. And although the U.S government will claim to be stabilising the economies of some of these third world countries, the reality is that they are paying for power and control of such nations. They claim to be protecting the people of Latin America, but in reality they are protecting their own interests, often at a cost of thousands of thousands of lives in less developed countries such as Nicaragua. They are protecting themselves from countries that could be Communist sympathisers, but in reality many of these countries (particularly in Central America) are so underdeveloped, small and poor, that their threat to America – with a population of over 300million, the second largest armed forces in the world and with probably the second largest nuclear weapons programme in the world – is almost non-existent.
It seems as though Latin America was originally a security blanket against European domination in the nineteenth century, but now serves a similar purpose against the Middle-East and Far-East. One can understand America’s protectiveness over its immediate neighbours, particularly after the Cuban Missile Crisis of the ’60s. However, I do wonder whether they’re really doing themselves any favours trying to be so domineering over Latin America: in my opinion it can just as easily serve as a way to alienate countries, and their people, from ‘Manifest Destiny’. Indeed, this is their dilemma in all current issues regarding the Middle-East; countries like Egypt and Libya (and many other African nations for that matter) can very easily become influenced by terrorist organisations with links to Al-Qaeda. Indeed, this is why the eyes of the White House are so keenly fixed on events of these African nations and who will take over control of them. It is also why Israel receives billions of dollars of U.S aid (currently around $2.5billion annually), because they are the last strong U.S ally in the Middle-East. I’m by no means anti-American, but I do wonder whether meddling in the affairs of so many nations can ultimately do more harm than good. However, when a country such as America is in so deep it becomes very hard to say “we’ll leave you to your own devices”. America have their fingers in many pies and become intrinsically involved in any country’s domestic and foreign affairs it will be very hard to disassociate in the future, even if the USA wanted to.