In This Review

Beneath the United States: A History of U.S. Policy Toward Latin America
Beneath the United States: A History of U.S. Policy Toward Latin America
By Lars Schoultz
Harvard University Press, 1998, 476 pp

Schoultz has accumulated a formidable battery of quotations and examples to support his thesis that American policy has been driven by deep prejudices about Latin American inferiority that go back to the founding fathers, well summarized by the youthful John Quincy Adams: "They are lazy, dirty, nasty, and in short I can compare them to nothing but a parcel of hogs." In 1950, George F. Kennan concluded that "there could be no other region on the earth in which nature and human behavior could have combined to produce a more unhappy and hopeless background for the conduct of human life than Latin America." Schoultz, a professor of political science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, also emphasizes the interests of American security, domestic politics, and economic development. While there is no denying Schoultz's evidence, his book is a prosecutor's brief, devoid of nuance. President Bush is quoted calling Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega a "little man," but the Bush of NAFTA is nowhere to be found. And Americans like Nelson and David Rockefeller, long influential in hemispheric affairs, cannot fairly be accused of disrespect for Latin Americans. It is also curious that in a book urging mutual respect, there are virtually no Latin American sources in over 100 pages of footnotes.