Great backgrounder: Mark Weisbrot explains the USA's recent imperialism in the Americas

Read Mark's whole post. Here's the beginning:

By Mark Weisbrot.

Before he resigned in June, Thomas Shannon was the third-ranking official in the US State Department, and most influential regarding relations with Latin America and the Caribbean. In a 33-year career at State, Shannon acquired a reputation as a highly effective diplomat and skilled negotiator. Under the Bush administration, Shannon served as Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs (the top State Department official for Latin America and the Caribbean).

He was appointed ambassador to Brazil by President Obama before he was finally made Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs in 2016. In these positions under both Republican and Democratic administrations, Shannon was involved in highly contentious episodes including the US role in Honduras’ 2009 military coup, as well as “parliamentary coups” that removed sitting presidents in Brazil and Paraguay. Shannon was also involved in the tumultuous relationship with Venezuela, which followed a long, downward trajectory after the US supported the short-lived coup d’etat against President Hugo Chávez in 2002. (Shannon was Director of Andean Affairs in 2001 to 2002.)

Shannon’s resignation was part of a wave of departures from the State Department during the Trump administration that has left it depleted and weakened. In what follows, Mark Weisbrot imagines the advice and counsel that Ambassador Shannon might offer to the new secretary of state Mike Pompeo, based particularly Shannon’s leading role in US policy in this hemisphere in the twenty-first century.

The letter illustrates the continuities between the two previous US administrations’ hemispheric policy regimes and that of the Trump administration; at the same time it documents the differences in style between the skilled diplomatic maneuvering represented by officials like Shannon, and the “gloves off” intervention, and lack of concern for public perception, of the Trump team. While the letter is fictional, the events and facts described therein are well documented, quite real, and ongoing.

July 2, 2018

Dear Secretary Pompeo,



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  • Tom Usher

    About Tom Usher

    Employment: 2008 - present, website developer and writer. 2015 - present, insurance broker. Education: Arizona State University, Bachelor of Science in Political Science. City University of Seattle, graduate studies in Public Administration. Volunteerism: 2007 - present, president of the Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project.
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