The latest event in the Americas’ Cup of international diplomacy took place in Trinidad and Tobago this past weekend. Sadly, the results ran against Team U.S.A. By a score of 4 to 0, an undermanned American team, captained by Barack Obama, went down to defeat at the hands of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), captained by Hugo Chávez of Venezuela.
The first goal went to Cuba and the Castro brothers. Although not physically present, the Castro brothers managed, with the help of some rather ambiguous offers of negotiation, to flummox the U.S. and put the squad on the defensive over the embargo, human rights, and other democratic technicalities.
Venezuela’s president, Hugo Chávez, scored the second goal in a smiling, handshaking photo-op with Captain Obama that was quickly splashed around the world. Chávez successfully showed that despite previous misdeeds and vile anti-American diatribes, a new game was on. Dispensing with normal diplomatic customs, Chávez pressed home the advantage to name a new ambassador to the U.S. without bothering to receive prior private agreement.
Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega scored a third goal after subjecting Captain Obama to a 50-minute soul-rending, anti-American harangue that lulled him into a state of defenselessness.
The final goal went to Bolivia’s president, Evo Morales. Although weakened by a recent hunger strike, the indigenous leader of Bolivia’s coca growers successfully maneuvered past beleaguered Team U.S.A. defenses.
Morales’s gambit was to say that if President Obama refused to condemn an assassination plot (which he outlined in a bizarre and murky tale that climaxed with three dead in a shoot-out), he “might think it was organized through the embassy.” The ruse worked, and Captain Obama dutifully offered a statement of support to the Morales regime, without seeking further clarification regarding the so-called plot.
Overall, the once-dominant powerhouse of the Western Hemisphere admitted that its best days were behind it. Henceforth, superpowers and mini-states, and democracies and authoritarian states are all equal on the inter-American playing field. While some in the hemisphere may tackle roughly or use a hidden hand, the key for the U.S. is playing by the rules and setting a good example — even if it’s a losing effort.
– Ray Walser, a retired foreign-service officer, is senior analyst for Latin American policy at the Heritage Foundation.