A Twilight Struggle: American Power and Nicaragua, 1977-1990

By Amstutz, Mark R | Naval War College Review, Spring 1997 | Go to article overview

A Twilight Struggle: American Power and Nicaragua, 1977-1990


Amstutz, Mark R, Naval War College Review


Kagan, Robert. A Twilight Struggle: American Power and Nicaragua, 1977-1990. New York: Basic Books, 1996. 903pp. $37.50

During the 1980s Nicaragua became a major ideological battleground in the East-West conflict. In 1979, Sandinista revolutionaries toppled the government of Anastasio Somoza and immediately embarked on a radical transformation of the country's social, political, and economic structures, dramatically extending government controls and threatening those who challenged their consolidation of power. Most significantly, from an American strategic perspective, the Sandinista regime became a vehicle for supporting insurgency in El Salvador.

In this important historical study of U.S.-Nicaraguan relations, Robert Kagan tells of the political forces and institutional dynamics that influenced the development and execution of American foreign policy toward this small land. Kagan's massive treatise can be viewed as three distinct stories. The first is that of the domestic politics of U.S. foreign policy toward Nicaragua. By explaining the ongoing political conflicts between President Ronald Reagan and Congress, and between congressional Republicans and Democrats, the author shows how difficult foreign policy making can be in a democratic society, especially when the conflicts involve core interests and fundamental moral values. Indeed, Kagan argues that the intensity of the policy debates had less to do with Nicaragua than with how "to define America at home and abroad."

The second story is that of the domestic politics of Nicaragua, illuminating the institutional forces that contributed to the fall of Somoza and the rise, evolution, and eventual demise of the Sandinistas. Kagan challenges conventional wisdom which assumes that the United States was partly responsible for the Sandinistas' radicalization. He shows that it was "the Sandinistas [who] earnestly sought alliance with the Soviet Union" as a way of extending their own national and regional influence.

Third, Kagan provides a historical account of the bilateral relationship between the United States and Nicaragua. While the study begins with the American occupation of Nicaragua in the early part of this century, Kagan's major focus is on the years of intense regional conflict from the late 1970s, when Somoza was forced to resign, to the unanticipated 1990 election of Violeta Chamorro, which ended the Sandinista eleven-year Marxist dictatorship. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

A Twilight Struggle: American Power and Nicaragua, 1977-1990
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.