Home > IDEAS > Events > Individual Events > 2011 > The United States, the Cold War, and Military Dictatorships in the Southern Cone

The United States, the Cold War, and Military Dictatorships in the Southern Cone

Professor Stephen G. Rabe, Dr Tanya Harmer (chair)
21 January 2011, 6.30pm, NAB.204.

The decade of the 1970s turned into a gruesome time for civic-minded Latin Americans, especially in the Southern Cone countries of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay.  Military dictators conducted a vicious war against political leftists and anyone else who stood for democracy and respect for basic human rights.  In the name of anticommunism and social order, thugs in military uniform and their colleagues in death squads butchered tens of thousands of South Americans.  The United States aided and abetted the criminal behavior of Latin America's military rulers.  President Richard M. Nixon and his faithful aide, Henry A. Kissinger, believed that military dictatorship was in the best interest of Latin Americans.  Military dictators could also be counted on to respect the Cold War concerns of the United States.  Nixon and Kissinger cultivated the Latin American military, providing diplomatic and material support to the military authoritarians and rationalizing and excusing their murderous behavior.  The U.S. leaders also took credit for destroying the constitutional regime of Salvador Allende in Chile.  In the Nixon-Kissinger view of the world, creating a stable relationship with the Soviet Union and a global balance of power entailed keeping Latin Americans in their place-under military rule.



Stephen G. Rabe is a professor of history and holds the Arts and Humanities Chair at the University of Texas at Dallas. 



Tanya Harmer is a lecturer in the Department of International History and a former head of the Latin American International Affairs Programme at LSE IDEAS: Diplomacy and Strategy.


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