Washington in Miami


There were in Washington during the Reagan administration a small but significant number of people for whom a commitment to American involvement in Central America did not exist exclusively as an issue, a political marker to be moved sometimes front, sometimes back. These were people for whom a commitment to American involvement in Central America was always front, in fact “the” front, the battleground on which, as Ronald Reagan had put it in his second inaugural address and on many occasions before and after, “human freedom” was “on the march.” These were people who had believed early on and even formulated what was eventually known as the Reagan Doctrine, people committed to the idea that “rollback,” or the reversal of Soviet power which had been part of the rhetoric of the American right since at least the Eisenhower administration, could now be achieved by supporting guerrilla resistance movements around the world; people who believed that, in the words of A New Inter-American Policy for the Eighties, a fifty-three-page policy proposal issued in the summer of 1980 by the Council for Inter-American Security, “containment of the Soviet Union is not enough. Detente is dead. Survival demands a new US foreign policy. America must seize the initiative or perish. For World War III is almost over.”

A New Inter-American Policy for the Eighties, usually referred to, because the discussions from which it derived took place in New Mexico, as the Santa Fe statement or the Santa Fe document, was a curious piece of work, less often talked about in this country than in Managua and Havana, where it was generally regarded, according to Edward Cody in The Washington Post and Christopher Dickey in With the Contras, as a blueprint to Reagan administration intentions in the hemisphere. In fact what seemed most striking about the Santa Fe document was not that it was read in, but that it might have been written in, Managua or Havana. As a document prepared by Americans it seemed not quite authentic, perhaps a piece of “black propaganda,” something put forth clandestinely by a foreign government but purporting to be, in the interests of encouraging anti-American sentiment, American. The grasp on the language was not exactly that of native English speakers. The tone of the preoccupations was not exactly that of the American foreign policy establishment:

During the last several years, United States policy toward the other nations within the Western Hemisphere has been one of hoping for the best. Too often it has been a policy described by The Committee of Santa Fe as “anxious accommodation,” as if we would prevent the political coloration of Latin America to red crimson by an American-prescribed tint of pale pink. Whatever the pedigree of American policy toward our immediate neighbors, it is not working….

The policies of the past decade regarding arms sales and security assistance are totally bankrupt and discredited at home and abroad…. Combining our arsenal of weaponry with the manpower of the Americas,…

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