Strategy, Security, and Spies: Mexico and the U.S. as Allies in World War II

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Faced with the possibility of being drawn into a war on several fronts, the United States sought to win Mexican support for a new strategy of Hemispheric Security, based on defense collaboration by governments throughout the Americas. U.S. leaders were concerned that Mexico might become a base for enemy operations, a scenario that, given the presence of pro-Axis lobbies in Mexico and the rumored fraternization between Mexico and Germany in World War I, seemed far from implausible in 1939-41.

Strategy, Security, and Spies tells the fascinating story of U.S. relations with Mexico during the war years, involving everything from spies and internal bureaucratic struggles in both countries to all sorts of diplomatic maneuverings. Although its focus is on the interactions of the two countries, relative to the threat posed by the Axis powers, a valuable feature of the study is to show how Mexico itself evolved politically in crucial ways during this period, always trying to maintain the delicate balance between the divisive force of Mexican nationalism and the countervailing force of economic dependency and security self-interest.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“[T]his is a well-crafted study worthy of serious attention from the scholarly community.”

—W. Dirk Raat, Journal of American History

Discusses US-Mexican relations between 1940 and 1945, focusing on security dimensions<-->namely defense, raw materials, and intelligence. The author describes military and diplomatic steps taken in the framework of hemispheric security, the evolution of the policy of hemispheric defense, and Mexican adjustment to the policy. She maintains that the US was unconvinced of Mexican commitment, and that Mexico feared imperialist designs on the part of their neighbor. Paper edition (unseen), $19.95. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
From the Publisher
“This minor criticism aside, this is an important, well-researched study that deserves the attention of both academics and general reader interested in the wartime experience in the Americas.”
—Stephen J. Randall, Intelligence and National Security

“This is an important addition to a significant emerging scholarly literature that portrays Latin American governments as actors rather than victims in international politics. Specialists in the history of intelligence, World War II, and inter-American relations will find the book useful and interesting.”
—Jurgen Buchenau, American Historical Review

“Relations between the United States and Mexico during World War II are little known even to historians of that period. María Emilia Paz, an independent scholar who has a doctorate from the London School of Economics, has produced a much-needed work. . . . This book should find its place in the literature dealing with hemispheric activities during World War II. It will appeal to academics and others interested in Mexican-American relations.”
—Edward B. Davis, Perspectives on Political Science

“With Strategy, Security, and Spies, Paz has written an important work that sheds new light on the complex relationship between Mexico and the United States between 1940 and 1945. . . . Paz's research on bilateral military cooperation between the United States and Mexico is ground-breaking. Her book is a delight to read and serves as an ideal text for undergraduate courses as well as graduate seminars. . . . Strategy, Security, and Spies is a must read for any scholar of Mexican domestic and foreign affairs in the 1940s.”
—Friedrich E. Schuler, Hispanic American Historical Review

“María Emilia Paz has written a compelling, informative, and scholarly assessment of a crucial period in Mexican-American relations. Her eloquent and meticulous analysis opens the door for further research on general and specialized topics. Scholars of Latin American studies; military, diplomatic, or economic history; international relations or political science; or whose interests encompass American culture, or are more focused—say on espionage, propaganda, or submarines—will find significant, well-documented discussions based upon primary source materials. Latin America’s unique relationships with the United States during the Cold War are also placed into a clearer perspective by reading this volume.”
—Charles C. Kolb, Journal of American Culture

“This is a carefully crafted work that exploits newly available materials from the files of the CIA, FBI, NSA, and U.S. Army and Navy intelligence. It is an insightful analysis of the factors that hampered effective cooperation between Mexico and the United States during the Second World War. The eye-opening story that Dr. Paz relates will inform even specialists in the field.”
—Charles Ameringer, Penn State University

“This minor criticism aside, this is an important, well-researched study that deserves the attention of both academics and general reader interested in the wartime experience in the Americas.”
—Stephen J. Randall, Intelligence and National Security

“[T]his is a well-crafted study worthy of serious attention from the scholarly community.”

—W. Dirk Raat, Journal of American History

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780271016665
  • Publisher: Penn State University Press
  • Publication date: 8/12/1997
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 276
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Meet the Author

María Emilia Paz, who has a doctoral degree from the London School of Economics, is an independent scholar who prepared this book with the aid of a grant from the MacArthur Foundation.

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Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations
Introduction 1
1 The Advent of Hemispheric Defense 9
2 Mexico and the Axis Threat 25
3 1940: First Steps Toward Military Partnership 47
4 1940-1941: The First Defense Deals 61
5 The Strategic Role of Mexican Minerals 74
6 Mexico, the Reluctant Ally 103
7 Mexico Moves Against the Axis 123
8 Mexico Declares "A State of War" 135
9 Axis Intelligence Activities in Mexico 146
10 U.S. Counterintelligence in Mexico 181
11 An Impasse on Defense Cooperation 209
12 Closing the Circle 226
Epilogue: The Dawn of a New Era 235
Bibliography 245
Index 255
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