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National Security Strategy for Mexico, Central America and Caribbean (Middle America)

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The United States is grappling with the consequences of major shifts in its security environment. The United States evolving security priorities must include a workable relationship with its neighbors in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean, hereafter referred to as Middle America. Since the War of Independence, U.S. and Middle American security interests have been linked. For most of that time, the United States has viewed this region as a possible arena for subversion or larger conflicts involving nonregional powers -- British, French, Spanish, German, or Soviet. That paradigm remained from the U.S. War for Independence through the days of the Monroe Doctrine to the Spanish-American War and, finally, the Cold War. Until recently, most of the nations Middle American policies fell under the spell of Cold War containment strategy and contributed to a legacy of U.S. military intervention. Today, with the exception of Cuba, the region enjoys some form of democratic government. This fact, together with the end of the Cold War, provides the United States and its Middle American neighbors an opportunity to develop a common vision of security that supports their common interests. The greatest threat from within the North American-Middle American hemisphere is instability. The United States cannot ignore an unstable region on its periphery, a region that contains its third-largest trading partner and supplies 11 of its crude petroleum. In terms of economics, broadening the North American Free Trade Agreement NAFTA to include countries other than Mexico and Canada is the single most important incentive to economic and social reform in this region. The author also discusses democratization, illegal migration, narcotics smuggling, and environmental issues as they relate to Middle America.

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  • Government and Political Science

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