Allcock works hard to rehabilitate the reputation of Thomas Mann, U.S. President Lyndon Johnson’s senior adviser on Latin America. Loyalists of Johnson’s predecessor, John F. Kennedy, along with other liberal critics, blamed Mann for abandoning the idealism of the Alliance for Progress, Kennedy’s ambitious economic and security assistance programs for Latin America, in favor of supporting military dictatorships and conservative business interests. Allcock persuasively argues that, in fact, Kennedy’s contradictory Cold War security strategies always preferred pro-U.S. authoritarians over potentially pro-Soviet leftists. Moreover, the administration was already shifting away from its lofty early rhetoric and unrealistic goals by the time of Kennedy’s assassination. Nor was Mann an economic reactionary, as his detractors have claimed; rather, he adhered to New Deal beliefs in government spending on infrastructure projects and public intervention to mitigate market failures. Mann supported international agreements to stabilize the price of coffee, for example, and was unafraid to criticize corporate executives he considered socially irresponsible. A fluent Spanish speaker with years of diplomatic experience, Mann also deserves credit for reducing tensions with Mexico and Panama by negotiating bilateral treaties.
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