The United States and Cuba: Business and Diplomacy, 1917-1960

By Robert F. Smith | Go to book overview

Preface

This book might well be subtitled The Prelude to Tragedy because it provides a case study in a field of United States diplomacy which has been characterized by errors and shortsighted policies. The problems of Cuban-American relations have been directly related to the over-all approach of the United States to the so-called underdeveloped nations of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. In the twentieth century these areas have been shaken by nationalistic movements, cultural change, strivings for higher living standards, and programs aimed at curbing both political and economic subordination to industrialized nations. Change has been the essence of this century.

The foreign policy of the United States has been ambivalent toward these changes. While professing commitment to the ideal of national self-determination, the United States has often tended to support the status quo in these areas. The relatively stable era prior to World War I has become something of a "heavenly city" for American officials, and this has limited their ability to cope with change in the world. In the eyes of many people in the world the United States has, to a certain extent, abdicated its ideological leadership as champion of the idea that systems are made to serve men, and not men to serve systems. The tragedy of this situation has become especially apparent in the post World War II era. The United States has all too often enshrined stability in a period of rapid change, and as a result nations in Asia, Africa, and Latin America have begun to look elsewhere for ideological leadership and support. The problem of Fidel Castro's Cuban revolution is another chapter in the annals of political and economic change in this century.

There is an urgent need for Americans to understand the foreign policy of the nation, and the reasons for its development. One of the major factors behind this status quo policy in regard to underdeveloped areas is the world-wide business interests of

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