U.S. and Soviet Relations with Argentina

Obstacles and Opportunities for the U.S. Army

by Rachel Schmidt

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Over the last two decades, Argentina has become the Soviet Union's largest trading partner in Latin America, a fact that some analysts fear signifies growing Soviet leverage in the so-called Southern Cone region of South America. This analysis suggests that Soviet-Argentine economic relations are likely to remain strong, but that the Soviet Union's strategic interests in Argentina are limited. Meanwhile, the United States is cultivating its own influence in Argentina, although it must operate in an environment with strong anti-U.S. sentiment. The U.S. Army can best enhance U.S. influence in the region by strengthening its military education and exchange programs with the Argentine Army. These exchange programs provide the opportunity to transfer the U.S. Army's professional skills. As compared with other U.S. Army policy options, education and exchange programs are also of low visibility — an important factor, since many Argentine people perceive a threat to their democracy from their own armed forces.

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