Courtesy Reuters

Latin America: A Broad-Brush Appraisal

In dealing with nearly one hundred countries that in varying degree look upon the United States as their deus ex machina, surely one of the most difficult problems is to achieve a set of foreign policies sufficiently coherent to be comprehensible to ourselves and to our friends and at the same time sufficiently responsive to the enormous differences even among those nations which for convenience we group together. The maker of policy must always, in some measure, strike a compromise between consistency in our relations among many countries and flexibility in shaping our relations to the peculiarities of each one. At the highest levels of government, however, the pressures are inevitably toward generalization and simplification as a means of making administration manageable and of attracting political support for policy decisions.

When Secretary Rusk asked, "Who speaks for Europe?", he reminded us that our tendency to generalize in terms of continents is not very valid even where shared experience is oldest, development is most uniform and integration has progressed furthest. To generalize about Latin America is far more difficult. The dangers of thinking of Latin America as an entity have frequently been pointed out, yet the practice continues among the public, if not within the State Department. In dealing with Asia no one presumes to generalize about the whole continent; at the very least we break it into regions, and in fact our bilateral relations vary enormously from country to country. Even Africa, which is at least self-consciously African, we divide into North, Central and Southern, though throughout the continent the drive for unity is intense, communication is close and stages of economic development are widely comparable.

Despite the importance and appearance of hemisphere solidarity, these factors do not apply to the countries of Latin America. Their common Hispanic culture and certain similarities in the way they look upon life and the world around them obscure a vast indifference to one another and a marked desire to be considered unique. They look

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