Affecting U.S. policy toward Latin America: an analysis of lower level officials
Cherry, Christopher E.
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In this paper, I examined U.S. foreign policy toward Latin America, primarily during the Cold War. I sought to answer the following questions: (1) What factors influenced the behavior of lower-level U.S. officials stationed in Latin America at the time? and (2) How much policy-affecting agency did these officials have? Using primary source documentation contained in the State Department’s Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) volumes to the maximum extent possible, I examined the following case studies: Guatemala circa 1954, Costa Rica circa 1948, and lastly, present-day Bolivia. In my research and analysis, I shed light on the dynamic that existed between Washington policymakers and lower-level officials stationed in-region, mainly ambassadors. My analysis resulted in the following conclusions: (1) anti-communist Cold War hysteria clouded the judgment of lower-level officials, (2) pressure from Washington elites largely influenced the behavior of these officials, and (3) U.S. officials stationed in-region had relatively little policy-affecting agency. Ultimately, I make a case for a U.S. foreign policy apparatus that empowers lower-level officials stationed in-region. This arrangement will prove most effective in observing, analyzing, and appreciating the nuances present in foreign countries, which would result in a flexible and tailored U.S. foreign policy.
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