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Iran is not the only 'pariah' looking to Latin America

Taiwan courts continued recognition as an independent country from select Latin American nations, while Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad tries to bolster ties to regional allies.

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Taiwan knows it's tough being a state under international pressure from a much larger power with greater political, economic, and diplomatic leverage. In such a position, a country looks for recognition where they can find it. Taiwan needs the international visits and big photo ops to show the world that they are not universally rejected. They are willing to sign big economic agreements with the few countries willing to host them in exchange for getting support at the United Nations.

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Everything written above is not to deny the important contrasts between Taiwan and that other pariah state whose leader is visiting Latin America this week and receiving far more attention (even though the media should treat China-LatAm issues as more important than Iran-LatAm issues, but I digress....). Taiwan is a democracy that is not trying to build a nuclear weapon or back a terrorist group or shut down a major international shipping lane. Its leader isn't a holocaust-denying idiot who has had his soldiers fire upon crowds of peaceful protesters after a rigged election or threatened to wipe out another country if he gets the chance.

But the comparisons are important too. A state rejected by most of the world that has its back against the wall will take allies wherever it can find them. A state that needs support at the UN is going to try to keep as many votes as it can. When it faces certain economic restrictions from most countries, it is going to sign economic deals any place it can. If that happens to mean Nicaragua and Guatemala, even if they are not the biggest or most important countries in the world, then that state is going to make as big of a show of its support for those few allies as it can.

Taiwan's visit, like that of the other pariah this week, is an attempt to maintain the small number of allies it has against the pressure of a bigger opponent and the rejection of the international community. The fact they have to keep returning to the same allies over and over is a sign of international weakness, not strength. It's a tough position to be in. There are only a few options available, and they are making the most of the limited options they have

—James Bosworth is a freelance writer and consultant who runs Bloggings by Boz

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