America, the Last Domino: U.S. Foreign Policy in Central America under Reagan
Contains Illustrations, Bibliography, Index
John I. Jackson was a library technician at the University of Toronto.
Stan Persky, who teaches political science at Capilano College in North Vancouver, British Columbia, has written widely on Canadian and international politics.
In America, the Last Domino, Persky attempts to elucidate the foreign policy of the Reagan Administration as it relates to Central America, and to demonstrate its consistency with American foreign policy from the initial promulgation of the Monroe Doctrine. Fittingly, for a journalist, he relies primarily on American and international newspaper coverage of events and personalities for his principal sources.
As he constructs his basically chronological account, Persky identifies a set of factors which in concert result in a policy that seems to deviate so much from the democratic ideal. The first of these is the historical ignorance, in the United States, of Central American society and affairs. This lack of awareness has allowed special interests, such as the United Fruit Company, to influence, largely unnoticed, American policy for their own benefit. Second is the failure of successive administrations to realize the indigenous origins and nationalist thrusts of popular revolutionary movements in Central America. By constantly invoking the agent of outside Marxist leadership and control, the United States winds up supporting a minority oligarchy suppressing a disenfranchised majority. Third is the adversarial relationship between the various elements of the American government: the Administration versus the Congress; the State Department versus the Department of Defense; the Congress versus the CIA. Reagan’s transparent certification of human rights progress in El Salvador to secure Congressional votes for continued aid, and CIA Director William Casey’s denials to Senate hearings of violations of international law in Nicaragua illustrate the range of negative power plays this system makes possible.
It is an obvious weakness of this book that such a forcefully put thesis is predicated on essentially superficial source material. But Persky acknowledges this and modestly suggests that his intent has been to provide a tool, based on readily available accounts, for the general reader. He has succeeded. The book is well indexed; and a thoughtful, balanced bibliography will direct the interested reader to more sophisticated primary sources and more scholarly analyses.