Schoultz, Lars. The Infernal Little Cuban Republic: The United States and The Cuban Revolution.

Author:Leonard, Thomas M.
Position:Book review

Schoultz, Lars. The Infernal Little Cuban Republic: The United States and The Cuban Revolution. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2009.

Lars Schoultz, Kenan Professor of Political Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, presents a unique approach to the study of United States policy towards Cuba since the beginning of the Cold War in the mid-1940s. Rather than a summary of diplomatic events, Schoultz presents the perceptions held by United States policy makers towards Cuba and its leaders. In so doing, Schoultz provides us with an understanding of the "whys" or U.S. policy. The 567 pages of text is based upon a wide range of primary and secondary sources that augments Schoultz's earlier and broader study of U.S. policy towards Latin America: Beneath the United States: A History of U.S. Policy Towards Latin America (1998). In the latter volume, Schoultz demonstrates that the U.S. policymakers viewed all Latin Americans as victims of Spanish colonial policies that left them without government administrative experience, fiscal responsibility, highly structured societies and devoid of experience in global affairs. To correct these deficiencies, the United States pursued policies that sought to transform the Latin American nations into viable democratic states. In this volume on Cuba, Schoultz argues that all Cold War U.S. Presidents, from Harry S. Truman to George W. Bush, sought to rid Cuba of communism, and a dictator and to replace them with administrations imbued with democratic civil and political principles and with liberal economic ideas. In both instances, the broader Latin American study and that focused upon Cuba, Schoultz concludes that the United States failed to reach its objective.

Dwight D. Eisenhower was the first U.S. President to confront the communist issue with Fidel Castro, but only after he had seized power in Havana and began taunting the U.S. economic presence on the island. Schoultz repeats in great detail the administration's internal debate about Castro being a communist or not, but leaves the impression that the policymakers never fully considered that an economic embargo against Cuba would seal Castro's fate in the communist camp. John F. Kennedy, significantly influenced by Castro's desertion of his legitimate revolutionary principles, not only continued the embargo, but approved the assassination attempts of the Cuban leader via Operation Mongoose. Although Presidents Lyndon...

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