Red alert: The Trump administration is about to make a serious national security mistake, one that would affect not only the U.S., but the entire Western Hemisphere, undermining efforts to build an economically viable rural economy in countries in our own backyard, which could in turn help mitigate illegal immigration flows into America.
As a veteran CIA agent, I served for many years in countries throughout the region, working to promote stability and fighting terrorists and outright Marxists seeking to attack the good people of countries throughout Central and South America. During that time, I saw all too many international organizations working hand-in-hand with the forces of socialism to impoverish and imprison these good people, and control over agriculture and their food supply was always high on their list.
One bright spot, however, is the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), which the United States itself created on June 18, 1942 — meaning that it actually predates the United Nations itself.
IICA’s 34 member-states hail from the Western Hemisphere and form the unique Latin America and Caribbean block over which the Chinese have been trying to exercise ever-greater influence. However, IICA is the one international organization that has resisted all Chinese Communist Party (CCP) influence. Across financial, personnel and political policies, IICA has steadfastly stood for democracy and economic freedom in our hemisphere, and has been impervious to the malign influence of China.
In fact, the IICA, under the leadership of Dr. Manuel Otero, a well-respected Argentinian who has served as the director general since January 2018, The IICA has actively supported the United States’ fight for freedom in Latin America.
For instance, the IICA was the first international organization after the Organization of American States (OAS) to support the democratic transition in Venezuela, and has joined the United States in publicly recognizing Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president. Moreover, the IICA does not recognize Cuba as a member-state, given that repressive regime’s repulsive record.
Likewise, America’s own agricultural community is on record offering full support and confidence in the IICA for its policies supporting sound science, innovation, U.S. trade and for helping to combat the threat of animal and plant diseases crossing into the United States. This American support is in stark contrast to most U.N. agencies which shun private-sector engagement and support policies that impede economic growth and democracy.
While the U.N.’s World Health Organization (WHO) waves pom-poms for Red China’s efforts to spread COVID-19, for instance, the IICA embraces partnerships with free-market American companies to advance actual economic development.
Just in the last two years, the IICA has inked partnerships with Corteva Agriscience, the largest U.S.-based agriscience company, as well as Microsoft and Bayer. The IICA has even sponsored a program to promote the ideals of the great American agricultural institution 4-H to reach the youth throughout the Western Hemisphere and create economic opportunities in the most vulnerable countries, which would help stem the tide of illegal immigrants into the United States.
Yet today, the Trump administration stands on the brink of slashing the IICA’s support by about 75%. The immediate past Assistant Secretary of International Organization Affairs Ambassador Kevin E. Moley has expressed shock and outrage at this usurpation of a decision that should have been his, saying at no time during his tenure “was it the Administration’s intent to reduce IICA funding.”
According to Mr. Moley, the IICA “has been unique in being wholly aligned with” the U.S., “not only in our Hemisphere but across the board on all matters regarding not just Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua but on all matters politically where America interests are involved.”
In Mr. Moley’s view, “IICA has been the outstanding example of an IO [international organization] working with the U.S. and our administration’s policies. To cut IICA funding would show we not only don’t support our friends, but in fact punish them.” By contrast, Mr. Moley said, his intention was rather to “strengthen IICA as a bulwark against the malign influences of other International Organizations.”
It’s time America takes a page from China’s strategy of leveraging international organizations to implement its policies globally. While Congress justly slashes hundreds of millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars from the ineffective and bloated United Nations agencies, it should re-program some of that funding to support the few international organizations like the IICA that are working for Americans, American agriculture, fighting for economic and political freedom — and against the malignant totalitarianism of communism and China.
Let’s get smart: Support our friends like the IICA that are aligned with U.S. values and policies — and beat Communist China at its own game.
• Brad Johnson, president, Americans for Intelligence Reform, retired as a senior operations officer and chief of station with the Central Intelligence Agency’s directorate of operations.
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