Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega: Further Evidence of America’s Global Decline

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Frequently, critics of the war in Iraq restrict their tallies of the consequences to the country thus far in terms of military consequences in the Middle East — and many actually trumpet how fortunate Americans are to still have high quality, mostly secure lives in this nation despite the hellish conditions in Iraq, Gaza, Darfur, and other strife-addled regions.
But what is not connected enough to America’s tragic encounter in Iraq is how it has undermined American power and prestige in other ways. The collapse of the Doha Round of World Trade Organization negotiations and the frequent harrassment from Venezuela President Hugo Chavez are other benchmarks of American political decline and of power voids being left for others to fill.
And today we have the likely victory of Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua’s national elections as another indicator of tides turning against American interests. Ortega, a former leftist guerilla, may have just won the election over the US-backed Eduardo Montealagre.
The race results are not final, but election returns are tilting towards an Ortega win.
When I was in Germany recently, I spoke before the FDP Foreign Policy Parliamentary Group, chaired by Werner Hoyer, in the Bundestag. One of Hoyer’s chief concerns has been Nicaragua and this election — and he is down there now attempting to suppor Montealegre.
But what Hoyer and many others who have watched these elections have reported is that America is not only weaker in the eyes of Latin American citizens, citizens are motivated to actually help roll back American power.
As one German politician told me, “It is remarkable that Ortega is bouncing back without a superpower sponsor competing with America. This is what is troubling. The opposition to American interests is winning in many place and there is no global rival.”
When the mystique of American power was wrecked in Iraq and President Bush showed our military and financial limits — allies stopped counting on as much and enemies have moved their agendas forward.
The costs of Iraq that Bush has unleashed aren’t anywhere close to a clear tally yet.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

23 comments on “Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega: Further Evidence of America’s Global Decline

  1. vachon says:

    Free elections are such a bitch, ain’t they. You can’t trumpet democracy and then meddle in another country’s elections. Make up your mind.

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  2. weldon berger says:

    “One of Hoyer’s chief concerns has been Nicaragua and this election — and he is down there now attempting to suppor Montealegre.”
    Steve, what would your reaction be if Herr Hoyer were over here stumping for a US presidential candidate? Appropriate? Inappropriate?

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  3. Kim Hanson says:

    Which America automatically finds an enemyin Daniel Ortega? Is bad tasting medicine an enemy to the ill? If radiation treatment an enemy to the cancer patient?

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  4. Matthew says:

    Steve: Is it evidence of the decline of America, or the decline of American vision? Bush has demonstated the limits of a foreign policy that basically disregards the aspirations of other nations. And they are starting to reciprocate. I also agree with the earlier poster who–quite rightly–pointed out that Latin Americans have been sick of our Imperialism for more than a Century. America declining? No, the World is just rebalancing itself–and it’s a good thing too!

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  5. Steve Clemons says:

    b — you are completely wrong about Werner Hoyer. He is about as opposed to the neocons as one can be. I am no fan of Daniel Ortega and agree with Hoyer that Ortega’s rise is in part an interesting benchmark of the decline of American influence in the region.
    Best, Steve Clemons

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  6. Finest says:

    Daniel Ortega sexually abused his spawn.
    So what?
    Oh, Ok.

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  7. semper fubar says:

    Let’s face it. We’re not a very nice superpower, are we? Invading countries, killing their citizens, wrecking their economies, jiggering their elections, supporting coups, privatizing their natural resources for the benefit of US multinational corporations…. might not be a bad idea if we were taken down a notch or two. Maybe then we’d start minding or own business and tending to our own citizens’ needs. In fact, I bet Latin America would be happy if we just did the former, and nevermind about the latter.

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  8. Finest says:

    Daniel Ortega sexually abused his kids.
    But he’s a leftist!
    Oh, Ok.

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  9. b says:

    Oh – steve – the worst and most revealing post so far
    BTW: Hoyer, the FDP guy in Germany is a pure neocon – nice companions Steve
    But of course, Ledeen was always against attacking Itaq …

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  10. XL says:

    I agree that Ortega’s win in Nicaragua is not a bad thing for Central America. Now that the U.S. is finally occupied elsewhere can teh coutnries of Latin America make their own destinies without the interference of the U.S. and the its interest which are actually thinly veiled private corporate interests. Let us not forget that the Sandinistas stepped aside in 1980s when they lost an election. They believe in democracy rather than holding power for power’s sake.

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  11. Rob says:

    It’s not just a visible loss of military might/mystique. The Bush years have signalled a collapse of the American character. Granted, we were never the saints we believed ourselves to be. Plenty of folks around the world, especially in Latin America, have plenty of legitimate gripes about American (read: corporate) heavy handedness but on the whole, the “product” America enjoyed a good reputation. Despite occassional screwups, we were, at least as superpowers go, viewed as a fairly reasonable people.
    Bush and his fear mongering cohorts have totally blown that. The optimistic, fair minded and generous face of America has been replaced by a dour, bullying, sanctimonious, moronic visage, drooling on and on about doing God’s work in the world while spreading fear and misery and further empowering corrupt, greedy totalitarianism at home and abroad.

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  12. Carroll says:

    “Citizens are motivated to actually help roll back American power.” As well they should!
    Posted by John at November 6, 2006 11:31 AM
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Agreed. And if the citizens here don’t “alter” that power soon it needs to be “abolished”. The killing and destruction we have unleashed HAS to stop.

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  13. Finest says:

    Daniel Ortega sexually abused his children.
    But he’s a Leftist!
    Oh. Ok.

    Reply

  14. erichwwk says:

    Perhaps another measure of the decline of US influence is that we are down to sending Oliver North to try and fix the election.
    http://www.commondreams.org/cgi-bin/print.cgi?file=/views06/1103-20.htm
    and
    http://tinyurl.com/y5oj5q

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  15. dan says:

    I can’t decide whether this is a joke post gone wrong or whether you’re being supremely silly here Steve.
    The next time you touch base with your German colleague, remind him that the cold war actually ended 15 years ago; that the Nicaraguan electorate might choose to vote its interests, as opposed to being merely an instrumental prop in someone else’s theatrical production, is actually a sign of progress, not a cause for alarm. The only legitimate interest that Washington, Berlin or any other international capital has in this election is that it should be free and fair.
    Chavez’s animus against the Bush administration is entirely personal; I’d be really interested in your compendium of Chavez’s rants against Clinton, if you can find them. In case you’d forgotten ( which you evidently have ), the Bush administration was intimately associated with a coup attempt in 2002, and followed this up with attempts at subversion via support for the recall referendum, and topped it off with a nasty rhetorical campaign when the policy of unseating Chavez failed, coupled with trade restrictions and the application of sanctions for military equipment, under the 10% rule, that Venezuela was seeking to purchase from Spain. It also doesn’t help that the US is giving succour to a convicted terrorist who is wanted in Venezuela, on the ironic basis that he might be tortured. Any administration that behaves like this deserves to be called “wanker” on a regular basis.
    You’ve also evidently forgotten that the OAS faced Washington down over recognition of the temporary illegal government, which should tell you that even in 2002, a good year before the Iraq war began, that Washington’s power to interfere in other countries was far more limited than you ( and the Bush administration ) imagined.
    It just goes to show that the FU really is the default measure of contemporary elite American historical amnesia.

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  16. susan says:

    extremism begets extremism. ahmadinejad’s & chavez’ elections are evidence of that, as is PRNK nuke activity.
    the rest of the world is looking for a bulwark against the crazy despot King George.

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  17. John says:

    “Citizens are motivated to actually help roll back American power.” As well they should! When the US government acts on naked self interest at the expense of others, who wouldn’t vote against its quisling candidates?
    In fact, this is probably one of the major explanations for the decline in US power: neo-cons’ rhetoric about “exceptionalism” suggests that the US is a morally superior hegemon, promoting freedom, democracy and fair treatment of its friends. Those affected by US unilateral behavior see past the BS and take steps to preserve their own national interest.
    Even European elites are reacting to US unilateralism, taking steps to distance and protect themselves, quietly and diplomatically.

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  18. karenk says:

    Regarding American political decline, prestige and power leaving a void for enemies to fill-very serious-but to be expected. GWB had a dyslexic moment when he said “I’m a uniter, not a divider.” He is a divider-he continually makes divisive statements (Bring ’em on! you’re either with us or you’re against us-does it get any more divisive?) This Admin has ZERO diplomatic skills! We literally had the world wrapped around our finger 5 years ago. How do you blow that?? They’re all about military action…bullys…but it makes them more $ than peace does I suppose.(please someone tell me I’m wrong on this). The unfortunate results will be paid by the average American though, not by them.

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  19. chimneyswift says:

    There is outright antagonism to the US in Latin America, and has been for a long time. People down there take populism and participatory democracy much more seriously, largely because they’re only now recieving some measure of it.
    The US is seen as a necessary economic partner, and sophisticated analysis of the economics is surprisingly widespread. But everyday people do not like the US and want to see roles change on the global stage.
    I would see the success of a democratic platform for local strength to be a positive devlopment in the context of LA’s long struggle for self rule.

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  20. Andy says:

    This is a stupid post. Latin American states, particularly in Central America, deeply distrusted the US well before 43, and they will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. This has nothing to do with Iraq. Why wouldn’t they vote for Ortega? Why isn’t functioning democracy a good thing for Central America and the United States? If troops weren’t bogged down in Iraq would Nicaraguans then vote for the pro-US canddiate out of fear of invasion. Stupid, stupid, stupid hackery.

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  21. MP says:

    From what I understand Ortega is no longer a leftist in the Sandinista sense of the word any longer. In fact, he is running WITH a former member of the Contras. Things change. People change. An Ortega win wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing from what (little) I can see.

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  22. profmarcus says:

    i’m not at all convinced that an ortega win would be a bad thing… admittedly, i can’t see through the media propaganda spin to get a genuine sense of either ortega’s politics or the man himself, but, living in a country that is part of the leftward/populist/anti-u.s. tilt in latin america (argentina), and is, i believe, the better for it, i can certainly see why nicaraguans might be motivated to look for an antidote to the empty promises that came with the ouster of the sandinistas…
    http://takeitpersonally.blogspot.com/

    Reply

  23. Pissed Off American says:

    “The collapse of the Doha Round of World Trade Organization negotiations and the frequent harrassment from Venezuela President Hugo Chavez are other benchmarks of American political decline and of power voids being left for others to fill.”
    The Bush Administration attempts to overthrow the democratically elected President of Venezuela, and they are “harrassing” US???? Geez Steve, when did you join the Bush propaganda team?
    Just because YOU can’t smell sulphur doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t. Something tells me ALOT of Americans are voting with their noses today.

    Reply

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