Lecture #5-US interventionism and Insecurity
I) US foreign policy objectives
II) Guatemala United Front, the CIA and the 1954 Coup
III) Democracy Promotion?
US Foreign Policy Objectives (O’Toole)
1) Territorial Gains
The main period of US territorial expansion was in the 1800s when they expanded
westward, displacing indigenous people.
All justified by “Manifest Destiny”- notion that white settlement of the continent was
fulfillment of a God Given imperative.
o Dogma used for the acquisition of US territory to justify their actions such as US-
Mexican War of 1846-1848 which annexed half of Mexico’s territory.
o After the 19 century, the Western frontier closed and at this moment, the US
The concept of Manifest Destiny is now linked as the US’s mission to spread democracy
throughout the world. (The meaning has changed). There are still references to Manifest
Destiny. Instead of wiping out indigenous people, US are now trying to promote US
2) Strategic Security (“Hands off Latin America”)
The Monroe Doctrine 1823, which established Latin America as part of the US sphere
of influence. Around 1800s, the Europeans esp. the British has much more influence
than US. There were a lot of loans, and trade treaties. The Europeans had established
banks in LA and US was annoyed with this. (There were British, German, and French
people in LA already)
With the independence of LA, US feared that LA would be exploited and taken over by
these European powers.
The Monroe Doctrine stats that any efforts by European Nations to colonize or interfere
with states in Latin America would be viewed as acts of aggression requiring US
intervention. This impact lasted for almost 2 centuries.
Roosevelt set up his own colliery to the Monroe Document in 1904.
Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine states the following:
o United States had the right to intervene in Latin American internal affairs when
its own interests were threatened by an external enemy or political instability.
o Now it is a national security doctrine (contemporary)
o US security causes insecurity which is ironic Ernie Tam
3) Ideological Hegemony (Cold War Era and anti communist)
Late 1940s: US pressed countries to sever relations with the USSR and banned their
Led up to the late 1980s: US promoted counter-revolutionary Guerilla movements to
fight these threats.
Today in the Post Cold War Era (it is instead about pro democracy instead of anti
o Democracy has become a cornerstone of their foreign policy.
4) Advancement of Economic Interests
1950s-1970s: Hostility to revolutionary and nationalist policies in Latin America. ( no
state intervention In the economy)
1980s: Foreign policy in terms of economy was about the imposition of Neo liberalism,
following the debt crisis of 1982, US used the IMF to shape the new free market/ neo
liberal market. As a result there was a greater economic dependency on the US by Latin
1990s: Free trade agreements pop up. Now that everyone is on the same economic
page, there were deals such as NAFTA (1999) which tied Canada, US, and Mexico.
Present: Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA) sponsored initiative modeled
after NAFTA that would include all 34 countries in the Western Hemisphere. Except
o Proposed after 1994, to create the world’s biggest Trading Bloc
Critics: US is trying to colonize Latin America. O’Toole used the comparison of FTAA with
the Monroe Doctrine. (trying to restrict Asia and Europe from gaining control in the
economy of LA)
***Monroe document is not really dead…Venezuela is still trading with the United States
despite the rhetoric thrown in public. The Monroe Document has now come back in the form of
FTAA…and soon will be in a newer form.
Guatemala United Fruit, the CIA and the 1954 Coup
1954Reform-minded Guatemala President, Jarobo Arbenz was overthrown in a
military coup backed by the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
o CIA acted with cold calculation to overthrow a democratically elected regime and
the regime that replaced it was a genocidal one.
o 3 Decades of criminal violence followed and directed to indigenous peasantry. Ernie Tam
1944: Military Coup brought a reformist democratically oriented government to power
that moved for elections.
o October Revolution: 1944-1954: Spring of 45, Guatemala moved to democratic
elections and the government in power broadened franchise, granted basic
right/constitution, and certainly the education
1950; Colonel Jacobi Arbenz was elected President and he was committed to deepening
the reforms. His revolutionary party won 65% of the vote and its major support base
are: workers, on the fruit plantations, and in the foreign owned railroad and utility
o Sympathized communist, vision of capitalistic society with heavy governmental
1952: The Agrarian Reform Law passes.
o He tried to address land inequality but expropriated with compensation. He did
not just seize the land but bought it back, unused lands of the United Fruit
Company of Boston. (name of national reform)
o Utilities, the roads and other parts of the country’s items were seized y US.
The communist party warned him that he was a making a strong enemy. The United
Fruit companies had strong friends, relatives, CEO, etc…
Allies of United Fruit
Secretary of State John Foster Dulles.
Allan Dulles, The director of the CIA.
Secretary of State and Dir