The United States and the Armed Forces of Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, 2000-2014

By Berkebile, Richard E. | Military Review, January-February 2016 | Go to article overview

The United States and the Armed Forces of Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, 2000-2014


Berkebile, Richard E., Military Review


THE UNITED STATES AND THE ARMED FORCES OF MEXICO, CENTRAL AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN, 2000-2014 Rene De La Pedraja, McFarland & Company, Jefferson, North Carolina, 2014, 332 pages

The United States and the Armed Forces of Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, 2000-2014 examines the internal role of the armed forces or constabularies of Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, and Venezuela, and the external influence of the United States. Armed Forces presents diplomatic, political, and military history through an uncompromising dependency theory framework.

De La Pedraja makes three major contributions. Foremost, he analyzes nation-states often ignored by writers and provides rich detail on their twenty-first century security and political environments. Next, his descriptions expose the central role of the selected armed forces in domestic security. The analysis usefully expands the perspective of those mostly familiar with transnational military roles. Finally, De La Pedraja weaves the raw data of classified WikiLeaks diplomatic cables into the construction of straightforward prose.

Despite its real contributions, Armed Forces contains substantive flaws. First, the book rests on two premises: that the United States exploits problems to increase its influence and control, and that the George W. Bush administration was particularly destructive to development. These premises are proffered in the preface and validated through several chapters, with the consequent fallacies affirmed in the final chapter. The intervening fourteen chapters do not systemically analyze these propositions. They are inconsistently addressed in the first chapter on Venezuela and episodically supported through what appears to be selectively biased evidence thereafter. A fair reading of the book might conclude just the opposite--the United States reacts to solve problems, effectively or not, and the Bill Clinton, George W. …

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