Waltzing with a Dictator: The Marcoses and the Making of American Policy; Rebuilding a Nation: Philippine Challenges and American Policy

In This Review

Waltzing with a Dictator: The Marcoses and the Making of American Policy

by Raymond Bonner
Times Books, 1987
533 pp. $19.95
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Rebuilding a Nation: Philippine Challenges and American Policy

by Edited by Carl H. Landé
Washington Institute Press, 1987
592 pp. $37.95
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At the descriptive level, Bonner's book is a richly detailed account of U.S. policy toward the Philippines after Marcos declared martial law in 1972. (The author bases his account on more than 3,200 previously classified documents and interviews with some 70 U.S. officials.) At an analytical level, however, the book is disappointing. There is no serious discussion of U.S. strategic interest in the Philippine bases in the light of Soviet-American rivalry in the Pacific, the Vietnamese invasion of Kampuchea or the Soviet presence in Cam Ranh Bay. Bonner neglects the fact that in the early years of martial law Marcos had a genuinely reformist appeal. Finally, there is little recognition of the dilemmas faced by policy-makers in dealing with friendly autocrats in countries where the U.S. has substantial security interests. Landé's volume is a collection of essays by former government officials and academics, and it ranges much more broadly over the issues. By far the most penetrating analysis is William Overholt's essay on the decline of Marcos and the problems facing President Aquino. Overholt concludes that Aquino has a window of opportunity to organize a civilian political base and adopt the needed economic reforms, but he cautions that the window is small and that she has not yet moved decisively toward it.