Courtesy Reuters

The Caribbean: Intervention, When and How

By conventionally accepted criteria the Dominican Republic has had a dismal career as an independent state. Wretchedly poor, politically and socially primitive, intellectually and culturally undistinguished, it has been flotsam on the great tides of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, an object not a subject on the international scene.

Late last April public order collapsed in the capital. Rapidly more than 20,000 United States troops were put into the city to ensure the safety of foreigners, halt the bloodshed and quell the violence, restore order-and forestall what President Johnson believed was the imminent takeover of the Republic by Communist-dominated elements and the establishment of a "second Cuba."

The President's decision to intervene, applauded by most North Americans, caused consternation in other parts of the hemisphere. Many Dominicans were offended by this latest affront to their national dignity, seeing in it a dramatic demonstration that the United States had no confidence in their ability to resolve their own problems and little respect for their position as citizens of a sovereign and independent state, juridically the equal of the United States itself. Many other Latin Americans were deeply disturbed, both because of the massive breach of the non-intervention principle and because of the way in which the United States took to itself responsibility for defining the character of the developing Dominican situation and responding to it.

The Organization of American States, profoundly shocked, its pride in tatters, came reluctantly to the support of the United States, assuming responsibility for helping the Dominicans end their strife and make a new start on the long, unfamiliar road toward political democracy, economic well-being and social justice. Subsequently a small number of hemispheric states sent military contingents to serve with U.S. personnel as part of an Inter-American Force stationed in the Dominican Republic.

All of this is now history. But it is history that could repeat itself-with appropriate local variations-in other countries of Central America and the Caribbean. In Haiti, for instance, or in Guatemala or in

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