Essay on Reagan Administration's Foreign Policy in Latin America

Essay on Reagan Administration's Foreign Policy in Latin America

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Reagan Administration's Foreign Policy in Latin America


Throughout the Cold War the United States considered the installation in Latin America of radical regimes-socialist, Marxist-Leninist, or “leftist” in any way- to be utterly intolerable. Any such development would represent an advance for the communist cause and a vital loss for the West. Acceptance of this outcome could weaken the credibility of the United States as the leader of the west and as a rival for the USSR. In the eyes of Cold Warriors, the consolidation of any left-wing regime in the Western Hemisphere would have dire and perilous implications for U.S. national security and for the global distribution of power. It was therefore crucial to resist this possibility by any means necessary in countries such as Grenada, El Salvador, and Nicaragua.

The 1st Prime Minister of Grenada was Eric Mathew Gairy, an energetic, charismatic, and ultimately egomaniacal leader with personal interest in self-aggrandizement and unidentified flying objects. The opposition of Gairy’s movement to increase his own wealth appeared with the foundation in 1972 of a movement called JEWEL, Joint Endeavor for Welfare, Education, and Liberation of people, combined with the Movement for the Assemblies of the People, MAP, to create the “New Jewel Movement,” NJM, led by Maurice Bishop and Bernard Courd. In the late 1970’s NJM began to promote a vague Marxist-Leninist ideology. While Gairy was in New York attempting to persuade the UN to establish an agency for investigation of UFO’s, the New Jewel Movement seized power in a near bloodless takeover. Bishop became Prime Minister in what came to be known as People’s Revolutionary Government, PRG; Courd became Minister of Finance. Bernard Courd became increasingly critical of Bishop and his national-democratic, reformist, and anti-imperialist PRG. He, along with a number of military advisors and their troops, placed Bishop under house arrest and eventually executed him.

The Reagan administration watched these events with mounting interest. On the day of Bishop’s murder, the US Ambassador to Grenada recommended that Washington evacuate all Americans in Grenada. State Department Officials argued evacuation would be inadequate; instead the island would have to be seized to save American lives and broader goals. On October 23, a suicide attack by Islamic fundamentalist led...


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...tain their fury. The Noble Peace Prize Committee rubbed salt in the United States President’s wounds by granting the 1987 award to Arias.

     The pattern of US action was impressively consistent. Washington’s perception of “communist” dangers and tendencies rested upon exceedingly broad, loose, and often-irresponsible criteria. Most so called “communists” were civilian reformers, more akin to European social democrat than to Soviet KGB operatives. More over, even those who declared opposition to the United States did so only after Washington adopted blatantly hostile policies. Much of what happened was the result of exaggeration, misperception, and misunderstanding between countries.

Under the leadership of both parties, Democrats and Republicans, the United States attempted the forceful overthrow of each and every socialist or alleged socialist regime in the Americas. The Reagan Administration operated under the same theory that Reagan, himself, expressed in 1984,
“If the Soviet Union can aid and abet subversions in our hemisphere, then the United States has legal right and a moral duty to help resist it. This is not only in our strategic interest; it is morally right.”

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