In Search of Policy: The United States and Latin America

In Search of Policy: The United States and Latin America

In Search of Policy: The United States and Latin America

In Search of Policy: The United States and Latin America

Excerpt

The essays, papers, and statements of testimony collected here were all written in Washington, D.C., between 1981 and 1983 during the author's initial tenure as resident scholar and director of the Center for Hemispheric Studies at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research. They deal with the themes, ideas, attitudes, and theories prevailing in inter-American relations and are informed both by the greater sense of "insiderness" that living in Washington provides and by the special "window on the world" that comes from the AEI afffliation.

This collection focuses on the history, background, biases, assumptions, and prejudices that undergird U.S. Latin American policy. At the root of our problems with Latin America, this volume suggests, is a lack of understanding and comprehension of the area, a pervasive ethnocentrism, and a lack of empathy. The book is hence infused by both an ethical sense of what a better policy ought to be and a scholarly analysis of the bases of policy in the past. A planned follow-up monograph will deal more extensively with the processes of foreign policy making, how policy gets made, how it works or fails to work, based largely on what I have seen and heard in Washington from the particular perch that I occupy.

The papers presented here, in seeking to correct a major bias often present in the literature and in our policy analyses of Latin America, were written in considerable measure from the point of view of improving broader hemispheric understanding and inter-American relations, as contrasted with the usual perspective, which is U.S. policy toward Latin America. That is, instead of writing from a strictly U.S. perspective, I have tried to understand and balance both sides of the inter-American equation. The unfortunate facts are not only that we do not comprehend Latin America very well but that Latin Americans do not understand the United States very well either.

Through greater knowledge and understanding, these essays argue, U.S. interests and Latin American development may be pursued in tandem and compatibly. This perspective leads to policy prescrip-

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