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Policy Toward Latin America
Space prevents my posting two more messages from Christopher Balz. In the first, amidst the usual attacks on our system, he admits he has no hard evidence of my being corrupted by money and power. In the second, he praises Noam Chomsky for his courage in telling the unpopular truth. In fact, many academic experts condemn U.S. policy in Latin America. For example, about Central America there is William M. Leogrande, Our Own Backyard (University of North Carolina Press, 1998, pp. 773). It would be hard to produce a better documented study. My criticism is that we must put the events of all the pre-1990 era in the context of the Cold War, viewed by Americans as a matter of national survival. This does not of itself justify U.S. policy.
WAISers are reasonable people, but none has defended the position of Christopher Balz. Again space obliges me to reproduce only a segment of the replies. There is general regret at the decline in civic dialog. Indeed, commentators like Lars-Erik Nelson view it as a danger to our civilization. Criticism of U.S. foreign policy seems to some unbalanced. A WAISer with experience in the State Department writes:
"Christopher Balz is certainly in the main-stream of American Latin Americanists. The problem is, they and the Latin American hard left who are their primary contacts in the region, live on the fringes of modern reality where they spend almost all their time taking in one anothers intellectual laundry. Whenever I worked on problems in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, I always made it a point to take into account the comments of academic specialists in those regions which were widely available in prestigious journals and other for a because so many were honest investigations of real issues by serious people dedicated to searching out the truth in so far as it could be known. I regularly found in them valuable insights and even excellent policy recommendations.
By way of contrast, in the 1970s, I stopped even bothering to do the same for Latin America because the bizarre world of Latin Americanist academics was so disconnected from reality in the region. That was especially true of dedicated academic publications and organizations like the Latin American Studies Association [LASA], in which the ideas of "peer review" to which Balz refers, have long since been perverted into a form of rigid intellectual censorship and tenure review has become the academic equivalent of the Inquisition's demands for doctrinal purity. No ideas contrary to the narrow concepts of the academically dominate oligarchy get published; rarely does anyone who will not toe the PC line get tenure. Even the Library of Congress's Handbook on Latin American Studies [HLAS], possibly the most prestigious review of publications in the field, for several decades seems to have been carefully purged of politically incorrect articles on Cuba and Nicaragua before being published; I know more than a dozen professional Latin Americanists who avoid LASA like the plague because it is so ideologically biased, and academics who are denied the right to teach because they refuse to memorize and regurgitate the PC-speak of those who dominate academic faculties. Bernie Nietschmann, a super Latin Americanist, was professor at Cal Berkeley, but of geography because he could not teach in the political science, government, history or other departments."
My comment: In the original posting, there was no suggestion that Latin Americans were unwilling to work, as immigrants to the United States demonstrate. Indeed, the grave defect of our system is that it does not provide employment for all. For desperate millions, employment is more important than our vaunted freedoms (See the posting on Kirgistan). This highly technical problem will not be solved with harangues by demagogues. The strikers at the University of Mexico (UNAM), the Colombian guerrillas who are depriving the public of power by blowing up pylons all over the country, the ETA killers of innocent people are all a minority trying to impose themselves by wrecking the lives of the majority. It is indeed the tyranny of the minority.
Ronald Hilton - 2/14/00