China Makes Its Move In Latin America

For the last five years, President Obama has been talking about an American “pivot” to Asia. It is now common knowledge that the Asia pivot has been a resounding failure – emboldening those powers it sought to keep in check and at the same time rapidly depleting our influence in the Asia Pacific region.

It follows that today it’s perhaps more accurate to talk about a Chinese “pivot” to the Americas.

On Thursday, Chinese President Xi Jinping promised to invest $250 billion in Latin America over the coming decade, more than twice what China spent in Latin America over the last ten years.

Not since the end of the Cold War has American influence in the Americas been so diminished. We have gone from preeminent to impotent.

Defenders of the President may point to the historic decision to normalize relations with Cuba. While it remains to be seen whether the new Republican Senate will allow this to happen, mere normalization does not signal any improvement in America’s power abroad.

(Credit: AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

(Credit: AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

In fact, it may only serve to increase the tight network between rogue regimes that support one another in their mission to hurt the US. This includes Cuba where the Castro family has been steadfast supporters of Venezuela and, by extension, Iran and Syria, for decades.

Indeed, while America works to accommodate regimes like Cuba, the Chinese are exerting ever more influence over countries such as Venezuela and Ecuador, which have been promised tens of billions of dollars in Chinese investments.

Both Venezuela and Ecuador are oil-exporting countries, and they have been hit hard by dramatic declines in the price of oil. Both governments depend on oil revenues to balance their budgets, and both are facing deep deficits in the coming year. The assistance from China couldn’t have come at a better time, and leaders in both countries are singing Beijing’s praises – an obvious danger to US power and the crux of the argument I made in my new book, The Russia-China Axis: the New Cold War and America’s Crisis of Leadership.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro hailed Venezuela’s self-inflicted budget crisis as “an opportunity to grow closer to our allies.” Since he was speaking from Beijing, it’s not hard to tell who he meant.