The Failure Of The Hegemonic Strategic Vision

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Book Chapter

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Confronting Revolution: Security Through Diplomacy In Central America


The Central American policies of the Carter and Reagan administrations represent the two ways the United States has confronted revolution. But despite the differences between Carter and Reagan, their policies in Central America produce similar outcomes in terms of U.S. interests in the region. During both administrations, conflict was exacerbated and broadened in scojje; there was greater polaxization of mjlitants on both the left and the right; refugees from the region.increased; U.S. intentions were increasingly questioned by all sides in the dispute as well as by our regional friends and European allies; and national security (the central goal of both) was made less, not more, secure. That such seemingly different policy orientations led to such similar outcomes reflects that much of what occurs in the region, of course, is a function of internal conditions. But a major factor has been the underlying vision, shared by Carter and Reagan, that presumed U.S. hegemony in the region as both necessary and proper. At the heart of this hegemonic strategic vision was the unquestioned assumption that it was essential for the United States to maintain veto control over the character of regimes in the region in order to protect American national interests. Indeed the assumption was so deeply rooted that most policymakers came to see the means, the exercise of U.S. hegemony, as the end in and of itself; few analyzed whether such control was really the best means to achieve and protect U.S. national interests. This became particularly serious because during the 1960s and 1970s a second assumption was becoming increasingly unrealistic: that the United States had the power to exercise such control in Central America.

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M. J. Blachman, W. M. LeoGrande, And Kenneth E. Sharpe

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