CONFRONTING REVOLUTION: Security Through Diplomacy in Central America by Morris; William LeoGrande & Kenneth Sharpe--Eds. Blachman

CONFRONTING REVOLUTION: Security Through Diplomacy in Central America

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

This rewarding look at US foreign policy in Central America recommends ""principled realism,"" an approach that addresses the root problems of the region by promoting diplomacy, democracy, and economic and social change. Written by 15 scholars, the book devotes long chapters to each of the countries of the region (excluding Belize), discusses Cuba and the Soviet Union's perspectives and examines American involvement and premises generally. The authors state that the consistent objective of US policy (whether it is the ""moderate hegemonism"" of Jimmy Carter or the ""hardline hegemonism"" of Ronald Reagan) ""has been to preserve our ability to exercise. . .control, or hegemony, and the foremost corollary of that imperative has been to prevent any government in the region from falling into the hands of 'the left.'"" This policy has become counterproductive, they argue. By using military solutions and supporting authoritarian governments, the US only aids the problems that make the region unstable in the first place: ""Central America's long history of socioeconomic inequality and political dictatorship provides more than sufficient cause for insurgency."" Moreover, it is not just poverty and inequality that encourage revolution, but ""brutal suppression of attempts at nonviolent reform,"" including ""cemetery methods of control."" What concrete steps should be taken? ""The alternative to hegemony and interventionism is not isolationism but rather a more intelligent involvement,' the authors state. This new policy would begin with a change toward Nicaragua, with the US halting the covert war and giving full support to the Contadora process. In El Salvador, aid should be cut from current levels (to show that ""the US was firmly behind a negotiated solution rather than a military one""), and the US should set conditions for the Salvadoran government to continue to receive aid, including that it respect human rights, make serious efforts to settle with the rebels, and make socioeconomic reforms. A refreshing, praiseworthy effort.

Pub Date: July 30th, 1986
Publisher: Pantheon