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Essay: U.S. Foreign Policy: The Dominican Republic
by Nicholas Klar
All references are from Richard Barnet 'Intervention and Revolution' (New York 1968)
The direct intervention of U.S. Marines into the Dominican Republic in 1965 was an apparent aberration of 'accepted' U.S. policy by President Johnson. No armed interventions had taken place in Latin America since the 1920's. Covert operations like those undertaken in Greece and Guatemala had become the norm in the Cold War period. Why did the U.S. choose to intervene, and why this way?
Barnet argues that LBJ was only continuing a hundred year-old tradition. [p.181] This is arguable, as America had chosen not to intervene militarily in other countries with which it had a similar tradition. The argument could be put forth that after ensuring Trujillo's demise the U.S. administration had put all of it's faith in the nascent regime of Juan Bosch. When that failed it did not have time to mount a covert operation, fearing that the country may fall quickly to the 'communists'.
It is clear that America was very concerned about stability in the area, and feared that Trujillo's despotism may bring forth 'another Castro'. [pp.185,208] John F. Kennedy had wanted to see progressive regimes in Latin America in an effort to appease revolutionary movements and ensure stability, and was prepared to support reformers like Bosch. [pp.186,7]
Upon Kennedy's death it was obvious that Johnson did not think the same way, quickly moving to resume relations with the government of Andrew Reid Cabral, the overthrower of Bosch. It was said LBJ was a 'realist', JFK an 'idealist'. [p.197] Meanwhile the constitucionalistas were gaining strength in their efforts to bring back Juan Bosch.
Bosch had been resented by many for his nationalistic stand whilst in power.[pp.193,4] At the same time U.S. ambassador John Bartlow Martin was primarily concerned with preventing a 'communist takover'. [p.189] This seems to have been the main stated concern throughout by all parties. Despite there being far more activity by right wing elements, the CIA was far more troubled by the 'communist threat'. [p.194]
The U.S. press began its usual attacks, and reformers were accused of having been infiltrated by 'Castroites'. When the constitucionalistas attempted to regain power in 1965 the U.S. allowed hysterical propaganda and deliberate misinformation to be aired. [pp.201,2] It then justified military intervention first on the pretext of protection of U.S. citizens, then on the grounds of 'preventing another Cuba'. [pp.200,1]
These reasons appeared clearly as the lies that they were almost as soon as the marines landed. [p.203] It was clear that it was U.S. economic interests were the main target of protection. [p.195] Johnson had seen that the old political and economic relations between America and the Dominican Republic had broken down and needed to be forcibly reinstituted. [p.182]
In 1966 Joaquin Balaguer, a former Trujillist, was elected as president with the backing of a huge U.S. embassy and the local oligarchy. Private U.S. investment and government aid began to pour in, higher than any other Latin American country. [p.207] As would happen again, America was prepared to 'suffer' with someone less than their democratic ideal in an effort to provide 'stability', without danger to their interests. [p.208]
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REF: Nicholas Klar, 1993 "U.S. Foreign Policy: The Dominican Republic"- http://klarbooks.com/academic/domrep.html + date accessed