Kissinger and Latin America: Intervention, Human Rights, and Diplomacy.

AuthorMorris, Jeffery

Rabe, Stephen G. Kissinger and Latin America: Intervention, Human Rights, and Diplomacy. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2020.

A good biography tells the reader as much about the historical period in which the book takes place as it does about its subject. Kissinger and Latin America: Intervention, Human Rights, and Diplomacy, by Stephen G. Rabe, does just that. In less than three hundred pages, Rabe compellingly and vividly conveys how fear of communist expansion beyond Cuba drove US policies toward Latin America during the Nixon and Ford administrations, in which Henry Kissinger served as national security advisor and secretary of state.

Rabe is Ashbel Smith Professor of History Emeritus at the University of Texas at Dallas. Over the past four decades he has written numerous books and articles on US--Latin American relations and the Cold War. What makes Kissinger and Latin America a valued contribution to the historical literature is Rabe's look at Kissinger's involvement with a region that, outside of Cuba, was not at the forefront of US Cold War diplomacy in the 1960s and 1970s, providing the reader with new perspectives on how the anti-communist concerns of the Nixon and Ford administrations drove rhetoric and actions into the farthest reaches of US foreign policy.

After laying out in the introduction why Kissinger was an important figure in US--Latin American relations, in seven chapters Rabe traces the actions and influence of the active and ideologically driven Kissinger as he, more than any other twentieth-century national security advisor or secretary of state, engaged with Latin American political, military, and business elites. The work's final section, titled "Conclusion: The Judgment on Henry Kissinger in Latin America," presents Kissinger as a man who valued US strength and global position over democracy and human rights, and yet made significant contributions to addressing important issues with Panama and other Latin American nations.

While all of Rabe's country-specific accounts of Kissinger's engagement with Latin America provide insights into how the Nixon and Ford administrations viewed the region, and to some extent how elites there viewed the United States, there are a few accounts that really stand out. The author's descriptions of Kissinger's engagements with Chile, Brazil, and Panama vividly illustrate the US approach to Latin America from the late 1960s until the Carter administration, as well as provide...

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