That's just the tip of the iceberg of our security challenge in the region. In September, Ecuador's president, Rafael Correa, decided not to renew a U.S. lease on a crucial air base used to launch and recover counter-drug-surveillance aircraft.
Bolivian President Evo Morales has lifted all visa restrictions on Iranians traveling to his country. Last month, he expelled all U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents from Bolivia.
Meanwhile, Communist China, which already owns facilities at both ends of the Panama Canal, is "buying in" all over the region. In October, the Chinese lent $350 million to the Inter-American Development Bank. This month, China bought a $10 billion stake in developing Brazil's new -- and apparently enormous -- oil fields.
Amazingly, none of this seems to perturb the craven cabal at the U.S. State Department. Earlier this week, Thomas Shannon, the assistant secretary of state, told Bloomberg that the U.S. "didn't ask to be invited" to the Latin American summit. He went on to say that "there's no warfare, weapons proliferation, suicide bombers or jihadists" in Latin America. This stunning comment was widely ignored by the masters of the media.
So, too, was another big story this week: the death of conservative icon Paul Weyrich, the co-founder and first president of The Heritage Foundation. By the time I first met him in 1981 at a White House briefing, he was the head of the Free Congress Foundation and already a leading figure in Washington. When President Ronald Reagan wanted support for a measure being blocked by liberals in Congress, Paul was one of a small handful of people he counted on to get the word out. And Paul did.
During a time when I was enduring my own particular hell at the hands of Congress, Paul was one of those who encouraged me: "All things work together for good for those who love God." He was right.
During the more than quarter-century I knew him, Paul was consistently principled in all that he said and wrote. An articulate spokesman for Judeo-Christian values and truly conservative ideals, he was unwavering in his belief that individual liberty requires personal responsibility and that governments at every level have to be held accountable.
He was unhesitating in offering praise when it was due, encouragement when needed, and admonition when he felt it was warranted. His widow, Joyce, and their five children will miss a husband and father. I will miss a friend.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.
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