The Pinochet File produced by Peter Kornblugh and the National Security Archive uses declassified US government documents and phone conversations to demonstrate America’s involvement in Chile through the ’70s and ’80s. With shocking, stunning detail, Kornblugh uses government secrets to tell a story that will surprise most Americans.
Even though I write largely about American domestic policy, I think a lot about foreign policy. Those who follow my blog know I have lately been reading a lot about America’s terrible history in Latin America. Facing that terrible history and thinking about Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and more, has led me to feel confident in sharing what I hope is a new, interesting foreign policy idea.
Since I’m not a politician in practice or mindset, I’m not going to mislead. The truth is I have no idea of all the consequences of what I’m proposing. Nor can I guarantee some of the possible consequences wouldn’t result in outcomes I would hate. Still, I’m proposing this idea because we need something different. We need something that gets us closer to living up to our founding ideals. We need something that rejects exceptionalism and imperialism in favor of respect and openness. We need an approach to other nations that understands foreign policy based on military might and massive amounts of cash, especially when that might and cash was too often created by exploitation and is too often used to exploit–is wrong. We need the humility to admit we don’t have all the answers. We need the confidence to acknowledge we have much to learn from others. And, we need the character to stick to our principals when immediate results challenge our idea that we know best.
If our ideas are the best, we shouldn’t be afraid to work with those who think differently. If our ideals really are the most just, we shouldn’t be afraid of ideals we don’t support. If our system of government really is the envy of the world, we shouldn’t have to force people to adopt it.
John Dings’s The Condor Years is a critical look at United States foreign policy in Latin America. Based on well-sourced materials including declassified documents from the CIA, Dings shows how America supported brutal dictatorships in Latin America. The book demonstrates how, with differing levels of US support and/or indifference, right-wing dictators killed thousands and tortured more.
With Donald Trump on his way to a second summit with Kim Jong Un and mindful of the tragedy unfolding in Venezuela, it’s time to point out the obvious: the Republican Party doesn’t care about the people of Venezuela. The Republican Party isn’t bothered by what it calls Maduro’s dictatorial behavior in Venezuela. The Republican Party isn’t concerned about the food and medicine shortages being suffered through by Venezuelans.
Allende’s Chile and the Inter-American Cold War is one of the most important books I have ever read about American foreign policy. If you want to gain a real understanding of America’s imperialism, lack of commitment to democracy, and its support of coups, Allende’s Chile and the Inter-American Cold War is for you. Given what is happening in Venezuela today, this book is an especially useful read.
John Perkins’s Confessions of an Economic Hit Man is one of the most important books I have ever read. As an American who cares about people in other countries, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man was an infuriating read. The book is an excellent example of exactly how much America’s foreign policy has been designed around the interests of corporations.
Donald Trump is so incompetent and compulsive that I can’t support a withdrawal of troops from Syria.
If you follow politics, you like history, you want to learn about the United State’s overthrow of a democratically-elected government, you want to be disgusted by corporate control of our government, or you want to understand one of America’s foreign policy failures, you need to read Bitter Fruit. It’s amazing how many of the issues we are facing today have resulted from failed policies from decades earlier.
Bitter Fruit is the story behind the United States coup to overthrow the government of Guatemala in 1954. It’s one of the books I most recommend.