A collective presence in the Western Hemisphere reduces threats to the US and its allies

A collective presence in the Western Hemisphere reduces threats to the US and its allies
In the eight months I’ve commanded United States Southern Command, I’ve been impressed by the strengths and opportunities of the Western Hemisphere — a neighborhood we are privileged to share with so many nations with common values. These strengths and opportunities include like-minded democracies, widespread respect for human rights and the potential for even stronger military-to-military relationships.

But my eyes have also been opened to the urgency and complexity of the challenges in our hemisphere. Our collective neighborhood is under attack by a vicious circle of threats: corruption and transnational organized crime that erode effective governance; violent extremism; and the subversive influence of malign actors (China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela and Cuba) that openly counter democracy and freedom across the theater. This hemisphere is now key terrain in the global competition for values, ideas and ideals.

The vicious circle works like this: With every illegal activity, criminals and violent extremists undermine rule of law and stability. We feel the impacts in our homeland, in the form of illegal drugs that cost our families and our nation tens of thousands of lives and billions of dollars every year. Our neighbors feel the impacts as violence and corruption cost lives, limit economic growth and erode the rule of law. Instability and violence fuel migration crises that strain social and legal systems. External and malign state actors who seek to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian models exploit these conditions to expand their influence.

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