UFPPC (www.ufppc.org) Digging Deeper XXXVIII: November 5, 2007, 7:00 p.m.

Greg Grandin, Latin America, the United States, and the Rise of the New Imperialism (New York: Owl, 2007). Originally published in hardcover in 2006 by Henry Holt.
Introduction: The Camel Not in the Koran. Latin America has historically been a “school” where the U.S. worked out foreign policy approaches: successively, imperialism (1800-1930s), then soft power (FDR), then hard power again (1950s-1980s) (1-7). Ch. 1: How Latin America Saved the United States from Itself. Introductory chapter on Latin America’s formative role in U.S. empire. Ford Motor Co.’s “Fordlandia” in Brazil as parable of empire: from utopian evangelicanism to brute coercion (1115). Northern capitalists and evangelists worked hand in hand with mercenaries and militarists (1523). But with a population with no stomach for direct empire, U.S. elites developed a consensus that used trade and finance (Open Door diplomacy, “dollar diplomacy”) as the basis for an “informal empire” (23-27). The Mexican Revolution and the Nicaraguan insurgency catalyzed a backlash (2733). FDR’s non-interventionist Good Neighbor policy employed “pragmatic pluralism” in the 1930s & 1940s, while Latin Americans developed institutions embodying a “liberal multilateral order” (33-39). This provided a model for the projection of U.S. soft power after World War II (39-40; citing Peter Gowan, The Global Gamble [Verso, 1999]). But as the Cold War developed, the U.S. became intolerant of Latin American reformers, overthrowing a government in Guatemala but failing in Cuba (41-45). Kennedy’s Alliance for Progress was a counterrevolutionarry campaign couched in revolutionary language (4648). In the 1970s, the U.S. returned to “hardheaded militarism” in dealing with Latin America (49-51). Ch. 2: The Most Important Place in the World: Toward a New Imperialism. The reorientation of U.S. foreign policy in the aftermath of Vietnam focused on Central America (52-54). Nixon and the Nixon Doctrine (54-60). Vietnam led to the development of a “permanent antimilitarist opposition” (62). “The Ninety-third Congress (197375) was perhaps the most anti-imperial legislature in American history” (62; 61-64). But the civilian militarists of the energized New Right devoted themselves to restoring U.S. power (64-69). The harsh 1980 manifesto of the Committee of Santa Fe encouraged the administration to use Central America an antidote to Vietnam (69-73). Jeanne Kirkpatrick’s realism (73-78) combined with idealistic rhetoric (78-85). Their combination was the harbinger of what would become the Bush Doctrine (85-86). Ch. 3: Going Primitive: The Violence of the New Imperialism. The combination of praise for freedom and the use of terror tactics, characteristic of “the new imperialism,” expresses a “punitive idealism” that first saw its modern form in El Salvador and Nicaragua (87-89). Conduct of counterinsurgency was associated with systematic atrocity in El Salvador (89-94). Death squads (9499). El Salvador (100-08). Genocide in Guatemala (108-10). The call of idealists to roll back Communism was the other strand of U.S. policy (110-12). Reversing Nicaragua’s 1979 revolution appealed to them (112-17). Ch. 4: Bringing It All Back Home: The Politics of the New Imperialism. On the domestic front, Central American policy helped resolve the Watergate-Vietnam crisis of authority. The mobilization of opinion in favor of the Contras foreshadowed the War on Terror (121-23). Three fronts: a PR-inspired public diplomacy campaign (123-36), increased surveillance of dissidents (13640), and the mobilization of militarists and freemarketeers against antimilitarists and liberation theologians (140-56). The imperial Bush II presidency is the culmination of efforts begun in the 1980s (157-58). Ch. 5: The Third Conquest of Latin America: The Economics of the New Imperialism. How the financial contraction of the 1970s provided an opportunity for free-market fundamentalists to act first in Chile, then in the rest of Latin America. Bush has promoted “raw capitalism,” not “reform capitalism” (159-63). Chile as laboratory for Chicago School economics (163-75). Reagan used chauvinist evangelical roots to promote corporate interests (175-81). His program achieved “a cohesive transformation of American society and diplomacy” (182; 181-84). The Cancún summit in late 1981 was the unveiling of the “trade, not aid” approach (185-90). Panama and Operation Just Cause (191-92). Clinton largely continued ReaganBush policies (193-94). George W. Bush merely accentuated them (194-95). Ch. 6: Globalization’s Showpiece: The Failure of the New Imperialism. New political movements are provoking the U.S. to militarize hemispheric relations. Bush’s triumphalism failed to take into account Latin America (196-98). The lamentable economic results of shock therapy (198208). Anti-globalization has remobilized the Latin American left (208-11). Bush has undertaken to militarize hemispheric relations (211-15). Colombia is “at the heart of the crisis” (216-20). U.S. and Latin America “stand at the threshold of a third [historic] period of conflict” (220; 220-22). Conclusion: Iraq Is Not Arabic for Latin America. Central America in the 1980s was a

template for Iraq, often employing the same personnel (223-37). Afterword. [Dated December 2006] After the soft power of FDR’s Good Neighbor Policy, a New Right alliance under Reagan rehabilitated American hard power in Central America in the 1980s (239-40). The neocon-theocon alliance seen there, marked by a mistrust of multilateralism, conviction that evil is at work in the world, ethical conviction that the U.S. military must be used to confront it, and celebration of the free market, led to the Iraq war (240). But the resurgent Latin American left represents an “independence movement” from U.S. domination (240-42). This left should offer “instruction” to U.S. antimilitarists (243-44). Notes. 32 pp. Acknowledgments. 2 pp. The argument of book was conceived for an Iraq war teach-in. Mention of Kate Doyle, “whose work with the National Security

Archive is largely responsible for what we know about the workings of empire in Latin America” (278). Index. 14 pp. [On the Author. Ph.D. Yale, 1999. Taught 19992001 at Duke, since then at NYU. Author of The Last Colonial Massacre (U.Chi., 2004) (exposes Washington's involvement in the 1966 secret execution of more than thirty Guatemalan leftists, which prefigured the later wave of disappearances in Chile and Argentina) and The Blood of Guatemala (Duke UP, 2000) (shows how the efforts of Mayan élites to maintain authority over the indigenous population in the community of Quetzaltenango and secure political power in relation to non-Indians led them to oppose indigenous peasants’ land claims; the resulting struggle played a crucial role in the formation of the Guatemalan nation). Lives in Brooklyn, New York. ]

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