So the Bush administration fails in execution, but what's even more emblematic of this waning administration is how its actions work exactly to the opposite of its goals. As Shultz writes:
On coca, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that if you put 20,000 people out of work in a nation where honest economic opportunity is scarce, some of those people are going to drift in other directions. In Bolivia those 'other directions' often include migrating to the Chapare to grow coca that isn't destined for chewing or tea, but the illegal drug market. It was the destruction of much of Bolivia's mining industry in the 1980s that sent so many ex-miners into the coca-for-cocaine business two decades ago. So while the Bush administration claims that its goal here is to battle increased coca growing for drugs, its actual policies seemed aimed at sending former textile workers right in that direction. Truly intelligent.
Finally, if the Bush administration thinks that its retaliatory moves aimed at Morales have made the U.S. more popular in the region, it might want to take another look there as well. The real mark of declining U.S. influence in the region can be measured by the Chilean summit held by the South American presidents last montn, in response to the Bolivia crisis. The messages from the Presidents was clear – U.S., we do not want you in the room.
That last graf is telling, and makes me hopeful, even if I haven't much faith in Obama and future U.S. involvement in South America. Hopefully, South America will be strong enough to tell the U.S. to butt out, that they are on track to solving their own problems, as they showed so recently in Bolivia.