Argentina and the United States: An Alliance Contained

Argentina and the United States: An Alliance Contained

Argentina and the United States: An Alliance Contained

Argentina and the United States: An Alliance Contained

Synopsis

In the first English-language survey of Argentine-U.S. relations to appear in more than a decade, David M. K. Sheinin challenges the accepted view that confrontation has been the characteristic state of affairs between the two countries. Sheinin draws on both Spanish- and English-language sources in the United States, Argentina, Canada, and Great Britain to provide a broad perspective on the two centuries of shared U.S.-Argentine history with fresh focus in particular on cultural ties, nuclear politics in the cold war era, the politics of human rights, and Argentina's exit in 1991 from the nonaligned movement.

From the perspectives of both countries, Sheinin discusses such topics as Pan-Americanism, petroleum, communism and fascism, and foreign debt. Although the general trajectory of the two countries' relationship has been one of cooperative interaction based on generally strong and improving commercial and financial ties, shared strategic interests, and vital cultural contacts, Sheinin also emphasizes episodes of strained ties. These include the Cuban Revolution, the Dirty War of the late 1970s and early 1980s, and the Falklands/Malvinas War. In his epilogue, Sheinin examines Argentina's monetary crash of December 2001, when the United States-in a major policy shift-refused to come to Argentina's rescue.

Excerpt

In August 1988, Argentine and Bolivian military officers met secretly in Buenos Aires. The occasion was the Fourteenth Bilateral Conference on Military Intelligence. Both countries were under democratic rule. Each had come through violent periods of military dictatorship in the 1970s and early 1980s. Both faced an ongoing threat of military intervention in national affairs. Just over a year earlier, during the 1987 Easter Week uprising, renegade army officers had tried to oust the government of Argentine president Raúl Alfonsín. The coup attempt was crushed by military units loyal to constitutional rule. U.S. president Ronald Reagan had come out immediately in defense of democracy in Argentina and in Latin America, as had editorials in the New York Times and the Washington Post. Reagan would shun any national military not committed to constitutional rule in the Americas. The United States and Argentina shared a public commitment to democracy. They joined with other governments in the Organization of American States (OAS) in decrying the period of dictatorship that had gripped the region through the early 1980s. Reagan and Alfonsín administration policies promoted the purging of the Argentine armed forces of lingering dictatorship-era hard-liners who continued to defend military rule as a necessary alternative to democracy in the face of a range of ambiguously defined crises.

U.S. and Argentine civil societies reviled dictatorship-era political intervention and state-directed violence in Argentina, Bolivia, and elsewhere in the Americas. In the aftermath of the Easter Week uprising, the Argentine and U.S. governments advanced the notion that the Argentine military was now gripped by an internal struggle pitting forces for a modern professional military against those stuck in a violent past. Most Argentines remained suspicious of that simple bipolarity; they saw their military leaders as too closely linked to the recent dictatorship.

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