Empire and Revolution: The United States and the Third World since 1945

Article excerpt

Edited by Peter L. Hahn and Mary Ann Heiss. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2001. 312 pages. $22.95 (paper).

In the decade following the Cold War, it has become commonplace among many American intellectuals and in much of the scholarship on American foreign policy to focus on the extreme anti-communism of US leaders in the 1950s and early 1960s, and to ascribe to this anti-communistic motivation all acts great and small by the United States, especially in the so-called "third world." This volume, edited by Peter L. Hahn and Mary Ann Heiss , brings together ten rather diverse essays by authors of different academic backgrounds and succeeds in presenting a richly diverse portrait of US foreign policy toward developing countries during the period of the Cold War. The work also points out the diversity in the quality of scholarship and degree of subtlety exercised in presenting ideologically-influenced scholarly work.

Many of the authors draw upon a rich lode of primary source material recently declassified and made available to the public through the State Department's Foreign Relations of the United States series, the presidential papers of Presidents Truman and Eisenhower, and the private and public papers of other actors on the public stage at the time. The careful footnoting and scrupulous quotations can bring an air of authenticity and credibility to the degree that readers may not notice the use of language to convey impressions not necessarily supported by fact. Consider one such curious use of an adverb. In writing of the murders of an American aviator and a Spanish scholar at Columbia University, allegedly by Dominican dictator Trujillo's henchmen, Stephen Rabe notes, "Responding to public outrage, the State Department reluctantly investigated the murders" (italics added). Why reluctantly? We are given no proof, only the author's supposition that "the administration wanted amicable relations with a dictator." The same author betrays a lack of basic understanding of how diplomacy and intelligence work in the field when he labels a US Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) as a later Consul General and the "de facto CIA chief of station. …