Madam Speaker, our own backyard is in jeopardy. Recently Colombia, our ally in the war on drugs and in combating Marxist rebels bent on undermining democracy in the Americas, was threatened with military action by its neighbors Venezuela and Ecuador. Colombia had taken the military initiative to eliminate a FARC commander across the border in Ecuador in order to maintain its own security. Yet the leftist and anti-U.S. leaders from Venezuela and Ecuador took grave offense to the killing of one of their comrades in arms, and rolled up tank battalions to the border to try to intimidate Colombia. Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed in this round, yet the United States should be concerned from some emerging big dogs in our own backyard.

With our attention turned elsewhere around, other nations and interests have been undermining US influence in the Americas. As seen already, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has been trying to gather support of other Latin American leaders to oppose the U.S. This latest incident in threatening our ally is a prime example.

Yet there is an even bigger dog, and it is hungry. China is growing in influence in Latin America. Seeking trading, political, and military ties with Latin America nations, China's hunger for expansion is part of its goal to be a chief player in world politics. As China seeks greater ties and influence in South America, it will naturally rely on its Communist ties with Marxist and leftist leaning groups.

What is the result of these two big dogs in our backyard? US influence is lessening in Latin America. For decades we stood by and militarily backed our Monroe Doctrine. In essence, we claim that the Western Hemisphere and the Americas is our sphere of influence. While we were able to keep Europe out, we are failing to keep the Far East and Communism out. Theodore Roosevelt added his corollary to the Doctrine, stating that the US reserves the right to intervene in Latin America. American foreign policy should take notice of this situation. While we have our chickens outside grazing, the coop is empty and under threat. We should hold fast to our Monroe Doctrine, and include all emerging threats, whether from Europe, the Far East, or ideas such as Communism and radical Islam. Strangers in one's backyard do not make for a secure household.

And that's just the way it is.