Talons of the eagle: dynamics of U.S.-Latin American relations
Contrary to widespread expectation, the ending of the Cold War has not produced continuous harmony and cooperation in U.S.-Latin American relations. Instead, NAFTA seems to threaten as much as it promises; economic prospects have been shaken by the Mexican currency crisis; the "war on drugs" continues to escalate; and xenophobic reactions to the migration of Latin Americans into the United States, typified by California's Proposition 187, seize headlines and editorial pages.
Spanning almost two hundred years, Talons of the Eagle tells the turbulent story of U.S.-Latin American relations from the birth of the United States and the new Latin American nations through the Cold War to the present day. Focusing not on U.S. policy alone, but on the intricate network of relationships between the United States and its neighbors, Peter H. Smith sheds penetrating new light on trends and events in the Americas. Beginning with the balance-of-power politics of the nineteenth century and efforts by the United States to establish its own sphere of influence in the New World, Smith describes the complex interplay between U.S. expansionism and Latin American reactions, which varied from lofty visions of continental unity to vigorous expressions of nationalistic and cultural resistance. Later, during the Cold War, Washington waged unremitting campaigns to eradicate perceived Soviet influence in Latin America, often allying itself with dictators and despots. Covert and overt American operations ranged from numerous attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro to armed intervention in the Dominican Republic and the invasion of Grenada; faced by stark alternatives, many Latin Americans turned toward socialist revolution and/or the pursuit of Third World solidarity. In the aftermath of the Cold War, U.S.-Latin American relations have now become dominated by economic and social questions, from drug trafficking and drug wars to illegal immigration from countries such as Haiti and Mexico. What happens next will depend on the same factors that have shaped inter-American relations in the past: U.S. policy remains heavily influenced by global concerns and the international climate, while Latin American responses tend to reflect the unequal distribution pf power that prevails within the Western Hemisphere.
Blending analytical rigor with illuminating anecdote, Talons of the Eagle provides a highly readable and up-to-date account of U.S.-Latin American relations over the past two centuries and offers provocative insight into the future.
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