When President Bush leaves tomorrow on a five-nation tour of Latin America, he will be entering a region that has become more important to our national security than at any point since the Cold War. ~Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison

Exactly how has it become more important?  She’ll tell us:

A fresh wave of authoritarianism — fueled by petrodollars, populism and anti-Americanism — has cast a dark cloud over the future of freedom in our hemisphere. In order to deal with this emerging threat, we need to dust off the Cold War playbook and become increasingly active in helping our friends to the south.

This would be the authoritarianism brought about through the ballot box.  I am perfectly happy to agree that mass democracy leads to authoritarianism and even to despotism, and I believe it is doing just that in Latin America, but let’s be very specific about what we’re talking about.  Several Latin American countries will become, or have become, basketcases because of the proper, regular functioning of mass democracy.  Mass democracy is a threat to freedom, indeed its very antithesis in many respects, but if we were going to make it our business (which we shouldn’t) we should be very clear that we are opposing the rise of successful democratic polities in Latin America because of the politics of the majority of the people in many Latin American countries.  This seems short-sighted and pointless to me, as most interventionism always does, but I insist that if Mr. Bush wants to meddle he has to admit that he is meddling to stymy democracy and oppose the will of most people in Venezuela, Bolivia, etc.  That should make for an amusing press conference, if nothing else.