- Series: American Empire Project
- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: Holt Paperbacks; Reprint edition (May 1, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0805083235
- ISBN-13: 978-0805083231
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 207.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
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- #81 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > Specific Topics > Colonialism & Post-Colonialism
- #87 in Books > Textbooks > Humanities > History > Latin America
- #125 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > International & World Politics > Caribbean & Latin American
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Empire's Workshop: Latin America, the United States, and the Rise of the New Imperialism (American Empire Project) Reprint Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
America's post-9/11 policy of idealistic military adventurism has a long history, argues this incisive study. NYU historian Grandin (The Blood of Guatemala) sketches the vexed course of U.S. relations with Latin America, but focuses on the Reagan administration's involvement in Central America during the 1980s, when it backed the Salvadoran government in a brutal civil war against left-wing insurgents and the Nicaraguan Contras against the Sandinista regime. Then as now, Grandin contends, Washington justified a militarist stance by citing a threat to America (Communists advancing on the Rio Grande) and championing democracy and human rights. America did not send troops but did sponsor native death squads in El Salvador, and the author notes recent press reports that the U.S. military is sponsoring similar death squads in Iraq. Grandin's conception of American imperialism—covering everything from outright invasion to corporate investment and Fed interest-rate hikes—is too broad, and he overstates the importance of Central America in the making of the American New Right. But this timely book offers an analysis of the ideological foundations of today's foreign policy consensus and a cautionary tale about its dark legacy. (May 8)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Most Americans pay little attention to our southern neighbors; however, according to NYU Latin American history professor Grandin, the U.S. government has indeed been paying attention to the region. Grandin contends that Latin America has been a testing ground--a laboratory, if you will--for the U.S. government to exercise its imperialistic tendencies. Grandin argues that U.S.-Latin American relations, from the administration of Thomas Jefferson up to the present Bush presidency, should be seen as sure indication the U.S. has always harbored imperial intentions. Our interventions in Latin America, both military and economic, have gone on repeatedly over the decades and reveal that the current administration's foreign policy, built on the concept of using military action to spread and establish our "ideals," is nothing new; it's been practiced in Latin America again and again. Contentious, certainly, but well presented. Brad Hooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Grandin demonstrates that many of the techniques employed by the Bush administration to garner and sustain support for its wars and to employ effective disinformation were forged and refined in the laboratory (or "workshop" as Grandin puts it) of Central America during the Reagan years. Particularly novel is Grandin's analysis of how both Reagan and Bush curried the active support of the USA religious right in pursuit of its foreign and military policy aims. In the end, the reader realizes that the Reagan years became a template for the Bush years.
The book is brilliant. I found it difficult to put it down.
Later when Reagan came to power he saw his purpose to reinstate a sense of national purpose and this he did by restoring military power. Almost all of Latin America was ruled at the time by pro american dictators, but something was starting to brew in Central America. The hardest hit countries where El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala. US allies killed approximatley 300,ooo people during Reagans two terms. Hundreds of thousands where tortured. Jean Kirkpatrick advised the Reagan administration to undo the human rights programs that Carter had initiated and spoke instead of the true nature of politics that was based on "competition for power", and that "brute force" was often better than "human reason". This rationalized such things as the dictatorships death squads-because "salvadors political culture respected a sovreign who was willing to wield violence". America now painted itself as the vanguard against the evill empire of the Soviet Union and this was used as an excuse to legitemize the brutal opposition to third world nationalism. In countries like El salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua, the United States did not make the same mistake as they did in Vietnam. Instead they "outsourced" their army and by supporting local bad boys let death squads do their dirty work. The idea of "going primitive" was implemented in these conflicts, where the most brutal crimes against human rights imaginable where committed.To tell you the truth I skimmed past most of the descriptions of the violence due to the intense brutality that was described.
Already in the 1960s Kennedy had installed such anti-communist paramilitary groups in El Salvador called ANSESAL and ORDEN. These groups where to work preemptively to stop any communist threats in the area. These groups where such a large part of the political oppression that eventually the people rose up,and this gave the Reagan administration the motivation they needed to "go primitive". One US expert said that "the horrible lesson of El Salvador is that terrorism works". Several torturers defected from the notorious Battalion 316 and testified in American courts of how they where trained by American specialists. They where taught to employ psychological torture instead of physical torture. This is what we are seeing today in Abu Graihb. Ofcourse if this didnt work then the good old hands on methods where used. Finally at the end of the cold war in 1991 the FMLN rebels where not defeated and saw to it that the United States helped to implement the changes that they had long been fighting for. If El Salvador was bad then Guatemala was worse. Here there was a literal genocide that moved into its most brutal faze when Ronald Reagan became president. The military turned the Guatemalan highlands into a "slaughterhouse" committing as many as 600 massacres there between 1981 and 1983. Most of the victims being Indian men, women and children, all the while Reagan pushed military aid to the area.
Reagan was also handson in rearming Somozas National guard and with the help of the CIA turning that ruthless group of marauding thugs into the "freedom fighters" better known as the Contras. After the US government froze the funding for the Contras Reagans accomplice Oliver North was sent to negotiate arms deals with Iran, securing large sums of money for the Contras. Large amounts of evidence say that he also negotiated delas with drug cartels to have access to their planes bringing weapons to the contras while giving them easier access to US markets for their drugs. The Contras where infamous for their "murders, mutilations, tortures and rapes" and at the end of the war an apporximate 30,000 civilians hand been killed, most at the hands of the Contras. They destroyed schools, health clinics, and power stations to show the Nicaraguan civilians that the Sandinistas werent capable of bringing stability to the region. There also followed an intense degredation of the Sandinistas in US media. The sandinistas where linked to such things as "terrorism, nuclear submarines, religious and ethnic persecution, totaliarianism, Castro, East germany Bulgarians, Libya, Iran, and even the Bader meinhoff gang".
The American christian right opposed itself to "peace christianity"(the same thing as liberation theology)-this christianity opposed Reagans policies in Central America. Liberation theology said that democracy and capitalism were antithetical values. This liberation teology also threatend the new right because they opposed the rights claim that capitalism was linked to human freedom. The christian right therefore now claimed that corporate capitalism mirrors "god's presence on earth". They fought latin american liberation theology with an american "theology of the corporation". They called liberation theology the "theology of mass murder" and claimed it to be "the single most critical problem that christianity has faced in its 2000 year history". The evangelical christian right argued that in a universe of free will where the good are rewarded and the bad are punished, then the USA is a shining example of gods blessing. The misfortune of the third world was "gods curse". The christian right proclaimed Robert DÁubuisson, the despicable murderer of the El Salvadorian archbishop Oscar Romero, as hero and freedom fighter.
This is infact the story of how American corporate elites helped to bring down reformist presidents in places like Chile, Brazil, and Guatemala. Dictatorships where therefore needed for these countries to understand the values of individualism, consumerism and passive rather than participatory democracy. Grandin writes that "Chile had fulfilled the new rights agenda of defining democracy in terms of economic freedom and restoring the power of the executive branch." In 1973 the US experienced a deep economic recession therefore third world nationalism was seen as a great obstacle to economic recovery. This led to Latin Americas "second conquest". First the Spanish and the Portugese took all the gold. Then during the second half of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth the second faze came- which "entailed the initial phase of US corporate expansion, as firms like United Fruit Company, Standard Oil, and Phelps Dodge turned on the region as a source of raw materials and agricultural products, coming to control most of the continents railroads, electric companies,ports, mines and oil fields." The third conquest began in the 1980s "Railroads, postal service, roads, factories, telephone services, schools, hospitals, prisons, garbage collection services,water, broadcast frequencies, pension systems, electric, television,and telephone companies were sold off-often not to the highest but to the best connected bidder." Much of this property landed with multinational corporations or with latin American "superbillionaires- this was a new class that had taken advantage of the dismantling of the state.
Although Latin America now has democracies with the exception of Cuba many of its countries are devestated economically. Countries like Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador all suffer from incredible poverty In Latin America 165 millionpeople live on less than 2 dollars a day. 60 people are murdered in Guatemala city each week. For many people the only alternative is to try to make it into America through Mexico to find work. This is becoming increasingly difficult due to the tough border patrols. All this has resulted in a new movement in Latin America, which could be called the anti-globalization movement. More and more left politicians are being elected and are protesting against free-market orthodoxy. This to me is a hopefull sign. And even though the Us keep projecting their imperial ambitions in Iraq I think its clear that if they couldnt do it in their own backyard they wont be able to do it in the middle east either. All in all I think that this was a great book and I can reccomend it to anyone that wants to learn more about US foreign policy and how it has effected the third world.