In This Review

Banana Diplomacy: The Making Of American Policy In Nicaragua, 1981-1987
Banana Diplomacy: The Making Of American Policy In Nicaragua, 1981-1987
By Roy Gutman
Simon & Schuster, 1988, 352 pp

Based on interviews with many of the principals, this informative study by Newsday's diplomatic reporter traces the Reagan Administration's approach to Nicaragua from its obscure origins to its evident unraveling. From this breezy and detailed narrative, the overwhelming impression that emerges is that the foreign policy process during the Reagan years systematically diminished the influence of professional expertise (whether from the State Department, the Pentagon or the CIA) and enhanced the influence of ideologues and outsiders-and that U.S. policy suffered as a result. The Administration never could decide whether to pull out all the stops to unseat the Sandinistas or to negotiate with them, and therefore continued to pursue both policies despite their inherent contradiction.