The United States in Honduras, 1980-1981: An Ambassador's Memoir

Overview

The former U.S. ambassador to Honduras, Binns, reflects on the foreign policy of the U.S. during his tenure in Honduras. Originally appointed by President Carter, he explores how policy towards Honduras changed with the assumption of the presidency by Ronald Reagan. He lays the blame for failed policy at the door of the Reagan administration, citing a lack of emphasis on human rights, the effects of ideological blinders, and the distortion of intelligence to suit Reagan administration political needs by the CIA. ...
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Overview

The former U.S. ambassador to Honduras, Binns, reflects on the foreign policy of the U.S. during his tenure in Honduras. Originally appointed by President Carter, he explores how policy towards Honduras changed with the assumption of the presidency by Ronald Reagan. He lays the blame for failed policy at the door of the Reagan administration, citing a lack of emphasis on human rights, the effects of ideological blinders, and the distortion of intelligence to suit Reagan administration political needs by the CIA. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786477562
  • Publisher: McFarland & Company, Incorporated Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/28/2014
  • Pages: 407
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2001

    An Invaluable, Compelling Resource

    Lacking any prior interest in Central America, I resolved to read this book because the author has been a friend since our days together as junior naval officers in the late 1950s. My persistence was rewarded as I found myself increasingly involved in momentous events on the world stage, with my old wardroom colleague, Jack Binns, calling the shots. He and his family were literally under fire in a war zone, with him at one point simultaneously trying to stop a war and a coup - and succeeding in both endeavors. My guess is that a number of generals and politicians at one time or another contemplated the pros and cons of having him rubbed out. I suppose one of the toughest challenges for him was having to deal with people like Colonel Alvarez, who obviously directed the human rights transgressions in Honduras as head of Public Security Force - and at the same time was responsible for safeguarding U.S. property and lives. I savored some of the book's descriptive touches, be it the characterization of presidential adviser Torres Arias with his gold Rolex watch and heavy gold chains or CIA operative Dewey Clarridge looking like a fugitive from La Dolce Vita - or the way the author sets the scene with the fly-specked map in the base commander's office in Puerto Lempira. Binns's observations prompted by the abrupt dismissal of his loyal Foreign Service superior, Assistant Secretary Bowdler, by the incoming Reagan administration were elegant and moving. And I was impressed by how Binns responded in his capacity as our ambassador in Honduras to businessman Fernando Lardizabal's plea to postpone elections, and the way he challenged Secretary of State Haig's personal emissary, Vernon Walters, on human rights abuses in the region. While this memoir was not written for general readership, The United States in Honduras, 1980 - 1981 certainly offers a compelling first-hand account of a critical period in a critical area - and thus provides invaluable documentation for the future. It is also an informative read for anyone who wants to know how our embassies operate in pursuit of our national goals, real and perceived. I would suggest that this book be required reading not only for anyone contemplating a career in the Foreign Service, but also for political appointees to ambassadorial posts. The former would get a comprehensive preview of their duties, while the latter would perhaps gain more of an appreciation of their Foreign Service staff.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2000

    Invaluable Resource

    This book is and will continue to be an invaluable resource to those interested in: - U.S.-Central American relations (focussed on but not limited to Honduras) during the late 70's and early 80's; - The practice of U.S. diplomacy in general and particularly during the difficult period involved; - U.S. foreign policy during transition periods between presidents. The widely divergent views between Presidents Carter and Reagan make this part of the story particularly fascinating. This is one of the few foreign policy books I have read that let you see the insides of the machine, how things actually work in terms of the interplay between various offices in the State Department and between State, Defense, the CIA, the NSC and Congress. Highly recommended!

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