FIU-SOUTHCOM notes, from the NACLA Report chopping block

This was going to go in the intro to the NACLA Report that I had the great pleasure of co-editing with Pablo Morales on Latin American coups of the 21st century. It will hopefully be coming out in print by Monday. It's a fantastic issue, with articles from Rodolfo Pastor Fasquelle (Honduras); Roger Annis and Kim Ives (Haiti); Carlos de la Torre (Ecuador); Nicole Fabricant (Bolivia); and Fernando Coronil (Venezuela). Because of the word limit, we cut the strategic culture discussion, but you can read it here:

...Indeed, Latin American and Caribbean leaders who step over that “fine line” of kowtowing to U.S. military and economic interests know they can expect economic and military trouble.

In a July 2010 statement before the House Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Political-Military Affairs Thomas Countryman—specifically referencing SOUTHCOM—stated: “Let me note that, in my 20 years of working with DoD in various capacities, I have never seen a better level of communication and cooperation between State and DoD.” While the State Department has been busy engaging in the sort of “diplomacy” exposed by the Wikileaks cables, SOUTHCOM has cooperated by setting up new U.S. bases, financing and training Latin American militaries and police forces, and by collaborating directly on military actions against domestic populations (and where necessary, their governments).

SOUTHCOM has even begun setting up its own think tanks to help the State Department in the creation of interventionist propaganda. In “Strategic Culture” studies prepared on a number of Latin American and Caribbean countries, this venture into academic legitimization is described as follows:

Florida International University’s Applied Research Center (FIU ARC), in collaboration with the United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) and FIU’s Latin American and Caribbean Center (LACC), has recently formed the FIU-SOUTHCOM Academic Partnership. The partnership entails FIU providing the highest quality research-based knowledge to further explicative [sic] understanding of the political, strategic, and cultural dimensions of state behavior and foreign policy. (see, for example, page 1 of the Haiti Strategic Culture report)

FIU-SOUTHCOM’s “Strategic Culture” studies, with their Social Darwinist rhetoric and simplistic analyses provide as much evidence as do the released Wikileaks cables for Morales’s fiery claims of U.S. interventionist intentions, seeking out (and in some cases fabricating) weaknesses and bogeymen as justification for U.S. policy.

For example, the focus of the Venezuela “strategic culture” report is on finding weaknesses in Chavez’s presidency. The author, an instructor at the Naval Postgraduate School, projects a palpable disappointment at the failure of the 2002 coup (omitting the direct role of then-Sub-Secretary of State Otto Reich), but revels in the claim that: “[t]he disconnection between regime ideology and mass strategic culture is a potential critical vulnerability for the Chávez regime in future international confrontations.” (p.9) Bolivia’s “Strategic Culture” report, meanwhile, characterizes that country as having a “political culture of victimization.” In the same report, the historic exclusion of Bolivia’s indigenous majority is deemed “arguable.” (p.5) The Ecuador report, directly contradicting the actions and stance of the CONAIE, argues that “both elites and the indigenous and popular sectors support the idea of a strong authoritarian leader such as the current president Correa,” (p.22) while noting that a potential weakness for Correa was that he was still expected to be a good patrón. Haitian Strategic Culture, we learn, is heavily influenced by Voodoo. (p.7) The Honduras FIU-SOUTHCOM workshop, which has yet to produce a report, was attended by (among others) a person claiming a false affiliation, experts in political destabilization, a representative of a business group that financed the Honduran coup, and a three-time graduate of the School of the Americas who participated in it...