Cover image for The most dangerous area in the world : John F. Kennedy confronts Communist revolution in Latin America
The most dangerous area in the world : John F. Kennedy confronts Communist revolution in Latin America
Rabe, Stephen G.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Chapel Hill : University of North Carolina Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
257 pages ; 24 cm
Corporate Subject:

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F1418 .R24 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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In March 1961, President John F. Kennedy announced the formation of the Alliance for Progress, a program dedicated to creating prosperous, socially just, democratic societies throughout Latin America. Over the next few years, the United States spent nearly $20 billion in pursuit of the Alliance's goals, but Latin American economies barely grew, Latin American societies remained inequitable, and sixteen extraconstitutional changes of government rocked the region. In this close, critical analysis, Stephen Rabe explains why Kennedy's grand plan for Latin America proved such a signal policy failure.

Drawing on recently declassified materials, Rabe investigates the nature of Kennedy's intense anti-Communist crusade and explores the convictions that drove him to fight the Cold War throughout the Caribbean and Latin America--a region he repeatedly referred to as "the most dangerous area in the world." As Rabe acknowledges, Kennedy remains popular in the United States and Latin America, in part for the noble purposes behind the Alliance for Progress. But an unwavering determination to wage Cold War led Kennedy to compromise, even mutilate, those grand goals.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Soaring rhetoric, sordid results: this the theme of Rabe's compelling critique of President Kennedy's counterrevolutionary policies in hemispheric Cold War crisis spots. In chapters titled "Gunboat Diplomacy," "Destabilization Policies," and "Counterinsurgency Doctrines," the author documents JFK's obsession with preventing another Fidel Castro from coming to power (inexplicably, there is no chapter directly on Cuba). The president's fixation on anticommunist shibboleths mutilated Alliance for Progress blueprints for encouraging democracy and social reform in Latin America. Rabe's carefully reasoned synthesis concludes that continuity was a hallmark of postwar Latin American foreign policy, demolishing the myth that the Alianza para el Progreso was a dramatic break from the last years of Eisenhower's administration and was later eviscerated by LBJ. The author might have made greater mention of domestic political constraints on JFK to fully answer the question of what worried him the most: the 1964 Presidential election, another personal humiliation akin to the Bay of Pigs, threats to national security, or the fate of poor and disenfranchised peasants? Photos of defining events and influential leaders, such as Venezuelan leader Romulo Betancourt, Guyanese nationalist Cheddi Jagan, and Brazilian President Joao Goulart would have been welcomed. All levels. J. B. Lane; Indiana University Northwest

Table of Contents

1 Origins
2 Gunboat Diplomacy
3 Destabilization Policies
4 The Kennedy Doctrine
5 Constitutional Defenses
6 Counterinsurgency Doctrines
7 Alliance for Progress
8 Aftermath