First impressions matter. Experts say we size up new people in somewhere between 30 seconds and two minutes.
While Argentina, Brazil, and Chile - what in textbooks used to be called the ABC countries - seem settled into democratic politics and free market economics, the Andean countries are in disarray.
It's time to bury the unreal, failed 'realism' of those who have long thought that dictators brought stability.
The war on drugs is not being won, and it continues to threaten stability and democracy not only in the Andes but throughout the Caribbean as well, where tiny police and military forces are outclassed by the sophisticated equipment in the hands of traffickers passing through the region on the way to their market in this country.
The ultimate goal is to change Syria's behaviour on a variety of issues - on its interference in Lebanese internal affairs, on its support for Palestinian terrorist groups that oppose the Palestinian Authority, on, most importantly, acting as a land bridge between Iran and Hezbollah, where Hezbollah gets all its arms.
I would have thought that if you're going to try to punish the Syrians and prevent them from using chemical weapons again, the thing to do is a one-time strike. Maybe a cruise missile strike at one or two of their air bases just so they know what they're going to gain from using chemical weapons on the battlefield.