Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Hot, Messy Battles In The Cold War

A newly declassified White House memo reveals 1971 discussions between President Nixon and Brazil's military leader about getting rid of Fidel Castro in Cuba and Salvador Allende in Chile (shown at right).

U.S. policy toward communists and socialists in Latin America during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s is one of many subjects deserving some next-generation scholarship, which is to say scholarship uncolored by Vietnam-era passions and grievances. For instance, what did the Nixon Administration really do in Chile, especially in connection with the 1973 military coup in which Allende lost his life, and what didn't it do? Wikipedia seems to weigh the available evidence fairly. It will undoubtedly be a hot topic when the records of the Nixon White House arrive at the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda next year.

As for the bigger picture, Central and South America are now predominantly free. The West won the Cold War without a nuclear war. If these outcomes are deemed salutary, let's at least keep them in mind while probing the seamy aspects of the tactical skirmishes over Cuba, Chile, El Salvador, and Nicaragua.

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