Exiting the Whirlpool: U.S. Foreign Policy toward Latin America and the Caribbean

Exiting the Whirlpool: U.S. Foreign Policy toward Latin America and the Caribbean

Exiting the Whirlpool: U.S. Foreign Policy toward Latin America and the Caribbean

Exiting the Whirlpool: U.S. Foreign Policy toward Latin America and the Caribbean

Synopsis

In this second edition of Whirlpool, Pastor provides an overview of US Latin American policy under Presidents Carter, Reagan, Bush, and Clinton, with special attention devoted to the role played by Congress. Next he looks at the recurring challenges faced by the United States -- how the United States has tried but often failed to manage succession crises, stop revolutionaries, promote elections, and encourage development. Pastor offers a series of far-reaching policy recommendations for exiting the whirlpool, based on a renunciation of unilateral intervention and a forging of a freer trade area. This second edition is thoroughly updated, with detailed new considerations of the cases of Nicaragua and Mexico in particular, and of the concept of hemispheric community.

Excerpt

"The Panama Canal is ours. We bought it, and we should keep it!" in 1978, opponents of new Panama Canal Treaties pounded into the American consciousness the reasons why the United States should not give the Canal to Panama. in the heat of the debate, New Yorker magazine published a cartoon of a man coming home from work after a hard day. He takes off his trench coat and tells his wife: "Last year, I didn't even know we had a Panama Canal. Today, I can't do without it."

Through the 1980s, small countries like Panama and Nicaragua preoccupied Americans. By the 1990s, these countries had disappeared from our newspapers and consciousness. This book is an inquiry into a Latin American whirlpool that alternately incenses or somnambulates the American public. With the end of the Cold War, some Americans thought they had escaped the whirlpool, but the invasion of Panama on December 20, 1989, and of Haiti four years later, suggests that the vortex retains its pull.

This book seeks to explain why the United States has kept returning to the same questions in inter-American relations and why the answers, which also bear the weight of history, have failed to solve the problems. My thesis, in brief, is that the end of the Cold War changed inter-American relations in important ways, but it did not solve the hemisphere's recurring problems. What the end of the Cold War offers is time to learn from past mistakes and to use new opportunities presented by the more important trends of democracy and freer trade.

This book is about U.S. policy toward all of Latin America, but like U.S. policy, it devotes a disproportionate amount of time to the Caribbean Basin. Some analysts argue that a wiser policy would concentrate more on Brazil than on Nicaragua, but I believe that such a wish will remain unfulfilled until Washington comes to terms with the whirlpool that draws it back to the nearer region.

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