We Should Find and Support the Next Pinochets. Not Really, But Sort Of.

The United States needs to get its hands dirty in Central and South America to find solutions to stop the caravans.

Augusto Pinochet was a corrupt tyrant in Chile. He also reformed Chile's economy, drove out the communists and socialists, and put Chile on the path to reform and stability. President Trump should seek out future Pinochets in Central and South America. The United States needs to get its hands dirty in the Western Hemisphere and be willing to support tyrants and autocrats who do not share our view of human rights. We need to do it because China is doing it, Russia is doing it, Cuba is doing it, and they have no qualms about human rights. We need to do it because we value free markets and stable, pro-America regimes that will fight MS-13, failed socialist policies, and a socialist-communist resurgence in the Western Hemisphere that threatens our borders.

According to the most conservative estimates, President Trump's wall will cost $11 billion. The House Republicans have set aside $5 billion. But consider what we currently spend in just a few problematic governments in Central America.

In El Salvador, we spend $75 million in foreign aid.

In Guatamala, we spend $297 million in foreign aid.

In Nicaragua, we spend $31 million in foreign aid.

In Honduras, we spend $127 million in foreign aid.

In Mexico, we spend $88 million in foreign aid.

Combined, that is $618 million in foreign aid for four countries that are causing or contributing to the migrant caravan. If we doubled what we spent in those countries, we would still only be spending around 12% of the cost of the wall.

If we spent the money wisely, we could support strong leadership in those countries willing to do our bidding who might resist the lure of China, Russia, Cuba, and even Venezuela.

Yes, we are dealing with corrupt regimes. We will probably not stamp out the corrupt. But, again, consider Pinochet. He was a corrupt tyrant who ruthlessly exterminated communists, cracked down on criminal and gang elements, and moved Chile into a stable, free market country.

Our foreign aid in Chile these days is only $2.3 million. We need to find future Augusto Pinochets in Central and South America and get behind them, support them, teach them about and help them promote free markets, provide them a few helicopters, and then let them ruthlessly deal with their nation's gangs, communists, and others who are causing the caravans of people fleeing those failing nations.

We could spend less in one decade solving the problems causing these caravans of migrants than we spend building the wall and, in the process, we would curtail China and Russia's incursions into the Western Hemisphere. The stakes for hemispheric stability are great. The United States needs to be willing to get its hands dirty again.

Now, everybody breathe.

No, I'm not actually fully on board with my own idea. Pinochet was actually a ruthless dictator who dropped people out of helicopters. And I actually think Pinochet has been treated more unkind by history than he should be, but only by a bit.

I didn't support Trump because I acknowledged that even if I got everything I wanted from him, he was still a terrible person and we shouldn't be propping up terrible people to give us what we want.

The same goes for abroad.

The point in laying all of this out and getting some of you nodding along with it is this -- there are real problems in Central and South America that are causing the migrant caravan heading north. Building a wall won't fix those problems and at some point there will be a Democrat President again who might just fling open the doors even if you have a wall.

The United States needs to deal with the root causes and can actually deal with those causes cheaper over the next ten years than building a wall that remains unfunded and hypothetical.

While we are not dealing with those problems, China is. It has no qualms about backing distasteful autocrats who abuse human rights. We have no competing systems and policies in place to respond. So in addition to not dealing with the root causes of the repeated caravans, we are letting a despotic, communist regime plant roots in the Western Hemisphere and doing little to nothing to respond thereto.

We need to. And that will actually require we ally with some unsavory types more likely than not. The left has a bit of hypocrisy on this front because they're perfectly fine cutting deals with Iran, treating Qatar favorably, and even working with those affiliated with Hamas. They may get bent out of shape by the suggestion that the United States work with thugs in the Western Hemisphere, but frankly I'd rather a pro-America thug running Venezuela than the guy there now.

We do not even have to engage in regime change in these countries. We can spend money openly and surreptitiously. We too can scheme in these countries to both push back growing Chinese influence and also the laundry list of problems causing the caravans.

You build that wall if you want to. But we will keep dealing with caravans and we will get a Democrat President willing to open doors within the walls. And, by the way, it is far more likely you will get funding for engaging with this problem than you will get funding for the wall.

But keep screaming "build the wall" if you makes you feel better. There are just cheaper solutions, but ones you can't fundraise off of.

Comments
No. 1-22
PeaceRevNow
PeaceRevNow

The utterly idiotic thing about this article is that what Erickson is proposing has been the well documented policy of the US for over a century. The way in which the US has supported budding right wing mass murderers has changed over the years but that support has been consistent. The current form is primarily through NGO's such as U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the International Republican Institute (IRI) all of which openly interfere in elections throughout Central and South America.

And yes, if you are actually worried about immigrant caravans, they are fleeing violent right wing "free market" governments which the US has helped into power. But let's examine the anti-immigrant hysteria for a moment. The caravan is estimated to be about 7 thousand people. The United States population is about 327 million people. And the US has had a shortage of agricultural workers for years. So when Hondurans seek legal asylum from the lingering effects of the coup which Hillary Clinton supported, and are willing to contribute to our GDP without being eligible for most of the social services that citizens can count on, it is both our responsibility and our opportunity to take them in.

Rowdyone
Rowdyone

The most effective and least expensive way to "curb the tide" of illegals is simply eliminate the incentive. If there was no job, no welfare benefits and no "sanctuary" to harbor them, they would stay at home. We should be smart enough to create a "guest worker program" that actually worked. If an employer wants a "guest worker", require that employer to be responsible for the individual while in the US and assure the individual is returned to their home country when no longer needed. If our government is not smart enough to manage such program, then don't have one.

ArtCroft
ArtCroft

Kill 'em all and let God sort it out.

Ron Black
Ron Black

Very, very good post on foreign policy sir. Thank you. Thank you for spreading the word that a one-dimensional, populist view of FP is not only stupid, and wasteful, but dangerous.

Please use the same mental pathways the next time you want to agree with something like, "Obama's weakness is why Syria is such a mess", or, "Trump beat ISIS because he's strong", or, "the solution to Iran is simple, you just ______ ____ ______".

Oh, and let's talk about some other numbers, shall we: let's compare the cost of Trump's war on the migrants versus how many of them there are "attacking us". Wanna bet we could buy every one of them a condo in San Diego with the money we are spending keeping them out?

The solution to the border is to let the ones who want to work in, and let them go back and forth, and use the money we save to carefully screen the tiny percentage of them who are burdensome or problematic.

Or we can keep throwing money away for hate's sake... Either way...

al_borkes
al_borkes

There are no easy answers; but I have observed this: the better conditions in a given country, the fewer immigrants in the US. My understanding is that in Barbados there came an enlightened leader -Tom "Long" Adams if memory serves me well- who made life good for his countrymen to the point of eliminating slums there. During my years of residence in the US I met only one Barbadian and that was way back in the mid '60's