A Message to Obama: How to Be a “Good Neighbor”
President-elect Barack Obama will soon have to confront urgent challenges and opportunities close to home in the Americas. His team can bury the paternalism and zero-sum thinking that have stunted the growth of our natural partnership with the Americas if it adopts energetic, respectful engagement. The new administration must listen and learn but be prepared to speak out when vital U.S. interests and values are at stake. The good news is that expectations in the region are high, but not unrealistic, and U.S. relations are in much better shape than the casual observer might assume. The bad news is that some challenges—such as the threat of drug trafficking and structural poverty—are worse than imagined. By avoiding some simple mistakes, investing political capital in trade and immigration, and getting serious about fundamental security and development challenges, Obama could be off to a promising start in the hemisphere.