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Home > Catalog > The United States and Right-Wing Dictatorships, 1965-1989
The United States and Right-Wing Dictatorships, 1965-1989


  • Page extent: 272 pages
  • Size: 234 x 156 mm
  • Weight: 0.42 kg
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 (ISBN-13: 9780521678537 | ISBN-10: 0521678536)

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$29.99 (G)

Building on Schmitz's earlier work, Thank God They're on our Side, this is an examination of American policy toward right-wing dictatorships from the 1960s to the end of the Cold War. During the 1920s American leaders developed a policy of supporting authoritarian regimes because they were seen as stable, anti-communist, and capitalist. After 1965, however, American support for these regimes became a contested issue. The Vietnam War served to undercut the logic and rationale of supporting right-wing dictators. By systematically examining US support for right-wing dictatorships in Africa, Latin America, Europe, and Asia, and bringing together these disparate episodes, this book examines the persistence of older attitudes, the new debates brought about by the Vietnam War, and the efforts to bring about changes and an end to automatic US support for authoritarian regimes.


1. No acceptable alternative: Mobutu in the Congo; 2. Degrading freedom: the Johnson administration and right-wing dictatorships; 3. Madmen: Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, and the quest for order; 4. Morality and diplomacy: the church committee and post-Vietnam foreign policy; 5. A fundamental tenet of foreign policy: Jimmy Carter and human rights; 6. What is the alternative?: the Reagan doctrine and authoritarian regimes; Conclusion.


"This book is essential for understanding the central paradox of twentieth-century American foreign policy: why the world's oldest democracy repeatedly backed dictatorships in the name of freedom. Defenders of right-wing dictators argued they were a necessary evil. In his careful study of the collapse of the Cold War consensus since 1965, David Schmitz challenges the notion that this violation of core American values actually served U.S. interests. Friendly tyrants resisted necessary reforms and destroyed the political center, while the 'realist' policy of coddling dictators brought a backlash among foreign populations with long memories. A crucial insight into the uncertain status of America in the world today." Max Paul Friedman, Florida State University

"A terrific follow-up volume to Thank God They're on Our Side, by one of our most discerning diplomatic historians. Schmitz lays bare the contradictions in U.S. policy vis-a-vis the developing world in the second half of the Cold War, and forces us to think anew about the price paid for support of dictators." Fredrik Logevall, Cornell University

"Nowhere else is Schmitz's story as fully told or rendered with such verve. He shows how Washington's association with right-wing dictatorships has badly compromised the promotion of American values as a vital part of U.S. foreign policy." William O. Walker III, University of Toronto

"Schmitz's riveting account of U.S. support of right-wing dictatorships and its tragic consequences for democratic institutions at home and abroad, is indispensable reading for anyone seeking to understand American foreign policy and the contemporary challenges to democracy." Penny Von Eschen, University of Michigan

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