Latin America and Africa have rarely rated as top U.S. foreign policy priorities in recent years, but 2018 may change that. Political instability and the collapse of national governments, international terrorism and its associated financing, and great power competition for natural resources and political influence could all threaten significant American national security interests next year. If several simmering controversies erupt simultaneously, Washington could find itself facing these crises with little or no strategic thinking to guide our responses.
In the Western Hemisphere, Cuba as of now is scheduled on April 19 to see the end of official leadership by the Castro brothers. Since seizing power from Fulgencio Batista in 1959, Fidel and Raul have embodied global revolutionary Marxism, defying U.S. opposition and repressing domestic dissent without compunction. But while loath to admit it, the Castros were always sustained by external assistance, by the Soviet Union until its 1991 collapse in turn prompted a near-terminal regime crisis in Cuba, and more recently by Venezuela’s dictatorship.