Sunday, May 01, 2005

Condi Rice and the Monroe Doctrine: “We have a positive agenda for this hemisphere.”

Condi Rice has been on a secret tour of Latin America. Well, not really secret, but for all the media attention it’s been getting, it might as well be. A pop quiz: did she visit Ecuador? Do you know the answer? Me neither. Answer, and transcripts of her various interviews and press conferences, here.

If there is an agenda to this trip, presumably it involves Venezuela. In Colombia, Rice said, “We don’t have a problem with the Venezuelan people.” As you know, “we don’t have a problem with the ___ people” is code for “the bombing begins in five minutes.” She carpet-bombed a press conference with utterances of the word hemisphere. “This is a question of what kind of hemisphere do we want to see, what kind of hemisphere do we want to live in, and what states are going to contribute to that hemisphere and what states will not contribute to that kind of hemisphere.” First, Colombia is actually in the Southern, Northern and Western hemispheres. Second, if Venezuela doesn’t properly contribute to the hemisphere, does it get towed to another hemisphere? Third, how many times can we repeat the word hemisphere before it loses all meaning? Fourth, since when does the rather broad geographic expression that is a hemisphere impose a demand for unified institutions? “We have a positive agenda for this hemisphere,” she says. This is imperialism dressed up in the blandest, least ideological language she could find, that of geographic imperative: “You can’t nationalize your oil industry, don’t you know you’re in the Western hemisphere?”

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