On Sunday, Javier Milei, the self-described libertarian who wants to take a literal chainsaw to the political-economic establishment in Buenos Aires, is now president-elect of Argentina, surprising many national pollsters and international observers. Milei campaigned as a “radical change” from the Peronist establishment, which has ruled the country for most of the last fifty years. There remain many uncertainties about Milei’s win, particularly given how his campaign divided many Argentines and foreigners, garnering support from disaffected Peronists, working-class voters tired of corruption and economic instability, and even former Presidents Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro.
Yet, despite Milei’s obvious flaws, what is clear is that his win will be beneficial to Argentina’s most significant ally: the United States.
Of utmost significance to the United States will be Milei’s push toward dollarization, which will mean greater monetary influence for the United States and better economic predictability for Argentina. Adopting the dollar and stabilizing monetary policy will lead to further foreign investment and interest, mainly from the United States. Even in the last few months and years, fluctuation in the Argentine peso’s value correlated heavily with the increase and decrease in U.S. trade with Argentina. Milei has made economic expansion the first priority of his administration, fitting with his overall message favoring private enterprise over state control.
Moreover, Milei has clarified that, under his administration, Argentina will grow closer with the United States and its allies and cease rapprochement with China and other U.S. adversaries. In line with that message, his first two foreign visits as president-elect will be to the United States and Israel.
China has spread its influence rapidly in Argentina, building commercial banking branches nationwide, expanding its presence in the telecom market, and even signing a currency swap deal. Like Ecuador and Bolivia, a left-wing government could have led the country to ditch U.S.-led international public financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund and opt for China to refinance its large public debt—on worse terms. Milei will be a more reliable partner for the United States, given both his signaled admiration for the country and his complete repudiation of China. He has said that, as president, he “would not promote a relationship with Communists” in reference to the People’s Republic.
He also declared that as president, he would leave the BRICS—the intergovernmental organization including Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa—only months after Argentina signed up to join. He also referred to China as an “assassin” during his campaign, and his proposed monetary policy may have him leave the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which has helped Argentina with dozens of public infrastructure projects as of late.
China’s People’s Liberation Army, since 2018, runs a remote satellite station in the Patagonian desert. The station possesses signals, geographic, and satellite information collection technology, which could run espionage and surveillance activities. Though China leased the land for the next 50 years, Milei could very well raise attention to the issue. Members of Milei’s political coalition, including former President Mauricio Macri and his cabinet, have already called for the security partnership to be upended, arguing that “Argentina will lose its sovereignty to China.”
Other security partnerships with China, including the “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership” and the proposed military agreements between the two countries, may also be called into question by Milei.
The president-elect’s support for Israel and Judaism may also lead to a change in policy on the Israel-Iran proxy conflict taking place in the region. In 1994, the AMIA, a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, was bombed by Hezbollah terrorists with support from Iran, killing eighty-five civilians. The bombing was never fully investigated, and Iran did not face any consequences, with reports suggesting direct rapport between the Peronist government and the Islamic Republic. Milei may give free rein to the United States and Israel in countering Iran’s influence, which is behind much of the region’s illegal weapons, drugs, and human trafficking.
Milei’s positive posture toward Israel will bolster Latin American support for the United States and Israel’s foreign policy in the Middle East, which is facing immense pressure from leftist governments in the region. Hamas kidnapped twenty-one Argentines on October 7, and Milei has prioritized efforts to bring them home.
Finally, on energy, Milei’s victory is crucial to advancing U.S. interests. Argentina has the second-largest exploitable lithium reserves in the world, with the capacity and will to export as much of it as possible. With Milei now in the Casa Rosada (Pink House), Washington may be first in line.
Milei will likely create favorable economic and financial conditions for American energy and mining investment. Milei may also plan to hinder the growth of China’s solar assets, which now include Latin America’s largest solar plant in Jujuy. Milei also wants to privatize state-owned energy firms and open Argentina’s natural resources to foreign investment. The stock market has already responded positively.
Despite his libertarian populist tendencies, Milei will provide the United States with a new ally in its backyard, sharing a broad liberal vision for the region at a time when Latin America is increasingly governed by far-Left or far-Right governments that do not share such a vision. Milei will hopefully make Argentina a greater partner in economic, monetary, security, and energy policy and distance Argentina from its recent past of Peronist governance.
Ojalá, Washington should ensure Milei stays true to his promised liberal vision and does not adopt the authoritarian path of some of his right-wing contemporaries, like Nayib Bukele, Jair Bolsonaro, and Guillermo Lasso.
Joseph Bouchard is a freelance journalist covering geopolitics in Latin America. His articles have appeared in The Diplomat, Mongabay, RealClearWorld, East Asia Forum, and Responsible Statecraft. He is a Young Voices contributor and an MA candidate in International Affairs at Carleton University in Ottawa.
Image: Facundo Florit / Shutterstock.com.