Sunday, January 05, 2014

John Foster Dulles and Latin America

One of the interesting tidbits from Stephen Kinzer's book about John Foster Dulles was that for a brief period before becoming Secretary of State he advocated non-intervention. Check out what he wrote about Latin America in his 1950 book War or Peace:

Also, in many Latin-American countries political control is more than ever in the hands of military groups. These groups have more power than ever because our Defense Department has built up military strength in some of the countries on the theory that the Americas should be treated as military allies under the Act of Chapultepec and its successor, the Rio Pact. These trends away from representative government increase the opportunities of Communism (p. 151).

Yes and yes! When in a position of authority, however, he ignored his own advice and would likely have called himself a soft-headed pinko (and that change happened quickly, since he was dead only nine years after the book was published).

What this shows, though, is that Dulles understood and to some degree internalized the concept of blowback. He was exactly right--the U.S. supported military dictatorships, which fostered much more support for the radical left than otherwise would've existed. But when he became Secretary of State, he pushed wholeheartedly for them anyway. He died a few months after the Cuban revolution, so I wonder whether he thought at all about how he had helped create it.


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