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The Cold War and its aftermath in the Americas: the search for a synthetic interpretation of U.S. policy

Pastor, R. A. and Long, T. (2010) The Cold War and its aftermath in the Americas: the search for a synthetic interpretation of U.S. policy. Latin American Research Review, 45 (3). pp. 261-273.

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More than two decades have passed since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the transfer of the Cold War file from a daily preoccupation of policy makers to a more detached assessment by historians. Scholars of U.S.-Latin American relations are beginning to take advantage both of the distance in time and of newly opened archives to reflect on the four decades that, from the 1940s to the 1980s, divided the Americas, as they did much of the world. Others are seeking to understand U.S. policy and inter-American relations in the post-Cold War era, a period that not only lacks a clear definition but also still has no name. Still others have turned their gaze forward to offer policies in regard to the region for the new Obama administration. Numerous books and review essays have addressed these three subjects—the Cold War, the post-Cold War era, and current and future issues on the inter-American agenda. Few of these studies attempt, however, to connect the three subjects or to offer new and comprehensive theories to explain the course of U.S. policies from the beginning of the twentieth century until the present. Indeed, some works and policy makers continue to use the mind-sets of the Cold War as though that conflict were still being fought. With the benefit of newly opened archives, some scholars have nevertheless drawn insights from the depths of the Cold War that improve our understanding of U.S. policies and inter-American relations, but they do not address the question as to whether the United States has escaped the longer cycle of intervention followed by neglect that has characterized its relations with Latin America. Another question is whether U.S. policies differ markedly before, during, and after the Cold War. In what follows, we ask whether the books reviewed here provide any insights in this regard and whether they offer a compass for the future of inter-American relations. We also offer our own thoughts as to how their various perspectives could be synthesized to address these questions more comprehensively.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Politics, Economics and International Relations > Politics and International Relations
ID Code:52145
Publisher:Latin American Studies Association

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