Iran and the New Monroe Doctrine

Washington Should Fear Tehran's Meddling in the Americas

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro (R) and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif shake hands during their meeting in Caracas, Venezuela August 27, 2016. Carlos Garcia Rawlins / Reuters

In Washington, conventional wisdom has long held that Iran’s presence south of the U.S. border constitutes little more than an axis of annoyance. In this telling, Iran’s activities in Central and South America—from numerous commercial and trade deals with various nations to the establishment of cultural centers throughout the region—are disorganized, opportunistic, and ultimately of little consequence.

That narrative has proved remarkably persistent, and—in part as a result—Washington has historically paid scant attention to Iran’s presence in the hemisphere. But there is ample evidence to the contrary in the form of Iran’s strategic cooperation with the region’s anti-American regimes, and in well-documented instances of Iranian-sponsored subversion organized there and aimed at U.S. interests and allies. Now, with the Islamic Republic increasingly unfettered from sanctions as a result of last year’s nuclear deal with the West, there are unmistakable

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