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"An excellent analysis of the evolution of U. S. Central American policies under the Carter and Reagan administrations that exposes the roles played by competing strategic visions and bureaucratic interest groups in shaping two of the most dramatic failures in recent U.S. foreign policy." —Andrew A. Reding, Hemispheric Affairs Fellow, World Policy Institute
Under Carter and Reagan, U.S. foreign policy towards Central America failed. In this intriguing study, Dario Moreno explains how policy in those administrations was made, tracing its failure to a foreign policy establishment plagued by division and lack of consensus.
Moreno shows that in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Panama, and Cuba, Carter and Reagan played out two dramatically different Third World strategies and that neither Carter’s liberal internationalists nor Reagan’s rollback theorists understood the reality of revolutionary changes in those countries.
Moreno’s study draws exceptional authenticity from his interviews and discussions with a dozen key Central American policy makers in each of the two administrations and with eminent political figures in Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica, among them, Patricia Derian, assistant secretary of state for human rights under Carter; Elliot Abrams, Reagan’s assistant secretary of state for human rights; and former president of Honduras, José Azocona.
Political scientists, historians, Latin Americanists, and informed Central America watchers will welcome U.S. Policy in Central America for its thoughtful analysis and as a blueprint for understanding competing ranks and divisions within the State Department’s policy-making circles.
Dario Moreno is assistant professor of political science at Florida International University.