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Cruising the Caribbean : U. S. influence and intervention in the twentieth century

Caribbean Studies Association
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  • Caribbean ( Lcsh )
  • Economics
  • Political Science


CRUISING THE CARIBBEAN : U.S. INFLUENCE AND INTERVENTION IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY Ronald Fernandez Department of Sociology Central Connecticut State University CRUISING THE CARIBBEAN : U.S. INFLUENCE AND INTERVENTION IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY This book was prompted by two questions: Why do intelligent men and women sometimes pursue inconsistent or contradictory foreign policies? And, why do otherwise decent people sometimes pursue admittedly cruel political, economic, and military strategies? A substantial part of any answer to these questions revolves around cultural beliefs, values, and practices. More specifically, culture is capable of blinding even the most intelligent person to the world that is actually there. Policymakers see, not reality, but their culturally inspired version of it. Cruising The Caribbean is therefore a study of the cultural beliefs, values, and practices of America's twentieth century policymakers. My focus is on the taken for granted assumptions which shape the contours of a century of American thinking. My intent is to comprehend how a President like Woodrow Wilson could be sincerely committed to democratic values and nevertheless use Marines to impose three military dictatorships (in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and the Virgin Islands) within two years. In general Americans see themselves in positive terms; for example, through two hundred years of history the American people have unselfishly helped others to pursue the political and economic values which make the United States such a remarkable country. The argument of this book is that, at least in the Caribbean, 1 we are not who we think we are. The goals and consequences of U.S. Caribbean policy often have little to do with the dominant (quite positive) assessments of American culture; and even less to do with the ideals championed by the revolutionaries who, in 1776, sought to start the world all over again. With four sets of cultural assumptions

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