Great-Power Competition in Latin America

Unquestionably, great-power competition is unfolding in the Western Hemisphere. Consider the number of bilateral agreements between China and Panama, illegal fishing in the eastern Pacific and southern Atlantic Oceans, a secretive military installation in Argentina, and Russia's role in Venezuela. In light of this, the 2018 National Defense Strategy (NDS) refocuses the United States on competition, underscoring the growing challenges with a rising China and aggressive Russia. But in Latin America, the Department of Defense must be cautious in hyper-focusing on extra-hemispheric adversaries at the expense of domestic considerations facing countries throughout the region. Competition can and should look different there than it might elsewhere. Indeed, DoD can best compete with extra-hemispheric actors by assisting partner nations to insulate themselves from external influence, strengthen defense institutions, and enable security forces to consolidate gains and assist civil authorities.

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