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U.S. Policy in Latin America

In any analysis of United States policy in Latin America, the first question which should be considered is: What priority is attached to Latin America in the whole spectrum of our foreign-policy considerations? Once the relative importance or unimportance of hemispheric problems is established, one can then move on to consider the question of basic U.S. policy in Latin America. Having delineated the fundamental lines of policy, one can consider finally the effective means of implementing it. On these three questions I shall focus my discussion.

On numerous occasions President Kennedy indicated the priority he placed on Latin America in the total spectrum of foreign-policy considerations by describing it as "the most critical area in the world." But two decades of constant preoccupation with Europe and Asia have left an imbalance in our global commitments that has not yet been wholly rectified. Although the United States must continue to be concerned with developments in many parts of the world, it is no longer either necessary or possible for the United States to become deeply involved in every area of the world and to undertake the massive political, military and economic commitments that such involvement entails. The break-up of the bipolar world of the postwar era and the emergence of independent centers of power in the non-Communist world should in the decade ahead allow the United States greater freedom to concentrate its resources in areas of primary concern to our national interest.

Europe remains of crucial importance in our foreign policy considerations and will retain this status for the foreseeable future. But while the internal political, social and economic patterns of Europe are well determined by now, this is not the case with Latin America. The future structure of society and the external policy of Latin nations remain unanswered questions. Marxism as a guide to social development is a spent force in most European countries, but it remains a lively alternative in Latin America today. The example of Cuba suggests both

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