A U.S. aircraft carrier, supporting vessels and supersonic air
support: One of the most intimidating naval displays on earth.
But is a Fleet - the Fourth Fleet - needed for Latin
Resurrected U.S. Fourth
Fleet Creates Suspicion Across South America
could the United States
have, to send such a powerful naval force to a region at peace, without nuclear
weapons, without conflict or any real military threats? … Vast control of the
interior of Latin American territory."
Rear Admiral Joseph D. Kernan, recently commander, Naval
Special Warfare Command, is the new commander of the reborn
Fourth Fleet. He will be responsible, according to the U.S. Navy, for
ships, aircraft and submarines operating in the Caribbean, and Central
and South America.
power takes important decisions without there being great motives behind it. In
April, the United States
announced that tomorrow, July 1st, after 58 years of inactivity, the Fourth
Fleet of its powerful Southern Command will again begin to patrol Latin American
waters, this time under the command of Rear Admiral Joseph Kernan.
The resume of Kernan, who until now has been the
supreme commander of the Naval Special Warfare Command, is no less worrisome.
The Marine belongs to the SEAL group, an elite commando unit with men selected
for the most grueling special operations. They are prepared to act under the
most exacting and adverse conditions, almost always intervening in isolation
from their command or other units.
operated in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. The choice of Kernan for the Fourth
Fleet, even the Pentagon admits, is highly unusual. It's the first time that a
SEAL has held such a post. What's more, with this decision, the Southern
Command has achieved the same level of importance as the Central Command, which
operates the Fifth Fleet in the Persian Gulf.
FEATURE ON U.S.
NAVY SEALS FROM '60 MINUTES'
reason could the United
States have, to send such a powerful naval
force to a region at peace, without nuclear weapons, without conflict or any
real military threats? “They're never going to admit that it's because of our
natural resources, but it's no coincidence that this decision comes just as a
structural change is underway in the global economy, in which reserves of fresh
water, food and energy resources (which our region has in abundance) have
assumed such vital strategic value,” said ClarínKhatchik Der Ghougassian,
specialist on security issues at the University of San Andrés [Argentina].
professor believes that there are two principal motives: natural resources and
the emergence in Latin America of so-called
“populist” governments, which appear increasingly on the security agenda every
day. The Pentagon's stated objectives are to interact and train other navies to
battle illicit trafficking, collaborate with humanitarian aid in cases of
natural disaster and to keep trade routes free and open. They don't hide the
immense importance that the Western Hemisphere's southern seas - and the
Pentagon admits that its capacity for taking action will be strengthened with
the Fourth Fleet overseeing the ships and planes (civil and commercial) that
navigate south of the United States. For the moment, the Fourth Fleet will
include no new units: it will begin with 11 ships and one aircraft carrier.
other statements show clearly that the objectives of the United States
are broader and involve a worrying penetration into Latin American territory.
James Stavridis, currently Chief of the Southern
Command, added Narco-trafficking, the fight against
terrorism and the possibility of having to respond to a massive migration of
refugees from countries like Haiti or Cuba. And James Stevenson, Commander of
the Navy's Southern Command, explained that their ships will even traverse the
huge river systems of South America, sailing
in brown water rather than the traditional blue. In other words, a vast control
over the interior of Latin American territory.
U.S. Navy Southern Command, now augmented by the
Fourth Fleet: Area of Operations
Southern Command made use of the idea of social activities like handing out
food or medicine, allowing them to convince the U.S. Congress that this
penetration is justified. But there are other ways to read this. There is a
leader, Hugo Chávez, who is making life complicated
for them. And there is a country - Brazil - with plans for leadership
that isn't necessarily opposed to the U.S., but rather takes power away
from it, observes Clarín Ruth Diamint
of the Universidad diTella.
suppose that UNASAR [the Union of South American
Nations ] and the South
American Defense Council begin to function, and instead of turning to the
historic link with the United States, our Armed Forces turn to a more
“intra-South American” model. In that scenario, a strong U.S. military
presence is a deterrent. I believe the likelihood of the U.S. invading
the Amazon or Guaraní Aquifer is very remote,
although not absolutely impossible. But in judging by the militaristic reading
that the U.S.
has of reality today, whenever it confronts any type of uncertainty or
confusion, there appears a military response. If Obama wins, both specialists
agree; there will be few changes - since these policies are plotted out for the
Both Venezuela and Brazil reacted
to the news. The commander of the Navy of Brazil, Julio MouraNeto, made it clear that his country will not under
any circumstances accept any American naval intervention in Brazilian waters.
analyzing Pentagon documents, Mexican researcher Ana Esther Ceceña
concluded that the U.S.
looks at the entire continent as a large island, like a fortress it can isolate
and use as a platform to fight from, in case another power challenges its
planetary superiority. But for this "large island" to be
impenetrable, invulnerable and self-sufficient, its natural resources are
essential. Ceceña analyzes the steps that the U.S. has
already taken to achieve that objective.
The crew of Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis.
first was economic: with neo-liberalism, the U.S. rearranged the use of natural
resources to benefit large multinationals and other political and economic
groups. Due to the failure of the Free Trade Area of the Americas, it
was not entirely successful. The second was legislative. It had Latin American
constitutions - which were very nationalist - changed to allow the entry of
foreign private capital and the shrinking of state interference. The third was
military: the U.S.
pushed for the approval of security laws that in some cases allow the free
movement of the FBI or the CIA on
Fourth Fleet (and if the U.S. leaves the Ecuadorian base at Manta) it will have
itinerant military bases with ships equipped with every instrument and
communications systems to intercept other ships as if they were a complete
military base. With this control, the U.S. not only ensures its access to
our region, but it impedes the entry of other competitors (which also serves to
ensure its perpetuation as a power).
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