tv Truman Administration and Latin America CSPAN August 20, 2017 8:00pm-8:46pm EDT
>> next on the presidency, black theica experts discuss successes and disappointments of harry truman's policies in the latin american region. the crewmen little white house and -- truman little white house hosted this event, part of the 15th annual symposium, which this year is titled "harry truman's legacy toward that end -- toward latin and south america." >> i'm happy to be here. ist we have decided to do each introduced ourselves. i will take a little bit about myself. , and myis stephen rabe
research specialty is u.s. and latin america. i have done a variety of books on this. i've never done a book about truman and latin america. i have done a couple of articles. andve done books on jfk eisenhower and latin america. i have been a general study of the cold war relations in latin america. i've had the honor and privilege to teach abroad. i have taught in 20 different countries, and in particular i have talked many times in argentina. i have taught in brazil, in ecuador and colombia. that will inform i talk here because i will look at truman and latin america in the way a latin american would look at it. i will go over some of the same materials, but from more of a latin american perspective. if you were to ask an educated , ain american citizen
citizen who had a sense of history, if you were to ask them, what do you think of harry truman and latin america? muchould probably pretty draw a blank in terms of that question. truman does not have among latin americans a strong memory. if you mention harry truman, they immediately bring up the marshall plan, which is probably the most successful u.s. foreign-policy ever. certainly an educated latin american would bring up nato. and it certainly that person truman's decision to resist north korean oppression. by comparison, most latin americans would bring of many of the 20th century democratic presidents. franklin roosevelt, the good
neighbor policy. virtually every latin american major city has a boulevard named after president roosevelt. john kennedy. the catholic president. the alliance for progress. you would not be hard-pressed, much as in the united states, to still find in the homes of latin americans, a portrait of john kennedy. carter, numero uno, perceived as a saint in latin america. he pushed to the animal command -- pushed through the panama canal treaty. bill clinton. free trade between the united states and mexico. also he and exceeded a plan -- he initiated a plan was colombia that basically rescued colombia.
most americans don't know we have been giving money to colombia every year since 1999 and that has transformed the country into a peaceful and prosperous place. barack obama, wildly popular in latin america. free-trade agreements with places like peru and panama. respected for normalizing relations with cuba. obama perhaps received the highest honor a u.s. leader could receive in latin america. he was at a state dinner in 2008 in one of sarah's -- in buenos best, and the world's tango dancer asked him to dance. the president did do very well. sure, not all latin americans would want to dance
with democratic presidents. mexicans would denounce woodrow wilson for dispatching general pershing in 1916 into mexico trying to chase down contra via -- pancho villa. lyndon johnson, any discussions would probably never get tested the anon. -- never get past vietnam. thinkin americans tend to favorably of democratic presidents, and they do, why would president truman not be remembered by most latin americans? trumanudgment, president seems obscure in relations, especially as perceived by latin americans, because he was a transitional figure. he served as president between the good neighbor policy and the
cold war era. put another way, the united states emerged from world war ii ,s the world dominant power with global ambitions and responsibility. regional concerns like relations with latin america would be subordinated to the larger task of rebuilding europe and japan and containing the soviet union. prior to 1940, particularly from 1930-1940. 1945, let america's not perceived as important to the global balance of power. period as ae this period of when they were neglected. let me briefly explain my going back over some of the things that have been spoken about. and also putting them in the latin american perspective.
american of fdr's let policy was the nonintervention principle. no nation has the right to intervene in the internal affairs of another nation for any reason whatsoever. 1933, the roosevelt administration renounced the teddy of fdr's cousin overtly intervening in latin america or exercising international police power. between the time of the roosevelt corollary of 1904 and 1933, there were 34 u.s. armed interventions throughout the caribbean region, long occupations of countries like haiti and the dominican republic. the principle that no nation has the right to intervene in the internal affairs of another nation for any reason whatsoever, it became the bedrock principle of american relations. beginning in 1933, the secretary
of state and president roosevelt announced the policy that the u.s. had no right to intervene overtly in the internal affairs of latin american nations and the united states announced the right of exercising international police power. this became the major part of the charter of 1948. but there were other parts to the good neighbor appreciated by latin america. tariff had badly damaged american trait. -- american trait. -- trade. the great depression in latin america was as devastating as the united states. the roosevelt administration initiated a reciprocal trade agreement act, basically congress give the president the power to conduct negotiations over trade deals.
it basically fast tracked authority. congress would say yes or no to the deal. in the 1930's, united states struck a variety of trade deals with most latin american countries. it was free-trade to revive prosperity. 1930's,nd of the inter-american trait have recovered and you could see some of prosperity in latin america and the united dates. the expansion of trade was bolstered also by the establishment of the export import ban, which gave latin americans short-term loans in order to purchase american goods. orders the world collapsed in asia and europe, the roosevelt administration decided as a matter of national security to promote economic development and diversification in latin america. let americans wanted to escape their basic role as providing raw materials, binary food products, etc., to the developed world.
in 1940, the united states granted brazil the $45 million credit to come -- to create the steel bill. it was the expansion of inter-american trait and the united states making at the end of the decade, and as the world order was collapsing, commitment that the u.s. was committed to diversification of latin america and it would put money up to back this pledge. the good neighbor policy really paid dividends through world war ii. transformation of the u.s. approach to let america was --aid during the world during the war. each of the 18 latin american nations immediately declared war against the axis nations after pearl harbor. within hours of hearing of pearl harbor, they declared war against japan. 20 latin american
nations provided -- permitted the u.s. to build military bases in their countries. squadron toan air the pacific. theregion also served as arsenal for allied victory. the united states rely on latin american for vital role materials like copper, of quartz andcopper, zinc. if you look at the war that people carried out, facilitating would say openly at the end of world war ii that latin america was the arsenal for allied victory. it's applied raw materials that helped the allied powers defeated the axis powers. the effect of wartime goals had
an immediate and profound impact on political structures in latin america. the idealism inherent in the new deal, the atlantic charter, the four freedoms, and the united nations charter all contributed mobilization in latin america. admiredic leaders president roosevelt. basically these are social reformers that said, president roosevelt have brought -- has brought a new deal to the american people, we want a new deal for the latin american people. in 1940, only four of the 20 latin american countries could be called representative democracies that respected civil liberties. 1946, only five of the latin american nations remained
authoritarian states. it was an enormous transformation, political americamation in latin during world war ii. as we come to president truman. in principle, president truman and his key advisers like the embrace the state policies and spirit of the good neighbor. but the realities of international politics intruded upon inter-american relations. here i want to make a major point. if president roosevelt have been able to serve a fourth term until 1948, i think u.s. policies toward latin america would have changed in the same way it changed under president truman. in the postwar period, latin americans were expected the
united states will continue to center foreign policy on the western hemisphere. article 51 of the u.n. charter allowed for regional organizations. latin americans at the making of the united nations very much supported article 51 because it permitted regional alliances and from the latin american perspective, it would tie them closely together. as we heard early this morning, the united states and latin america joined in a military alliance and joined in a kind of political alliance with the organization of american states inated in bogota, colombia 1948. in the latin american mind, the oas werety and the preparation for what they really wanted to focus on, what they wanted to be the key issue for inter-american relations, and inter-american economic alliance. during the war, the united that once thelied
war was over, the united states would support economic diversification and economic growth in latin america through economic aid. in particular, an economic conference was promised. there would be a little conference, the oas, a military conference, the rio treaty, but an economic conference that would form an inter-american economic alliance. at that conference, latin americans hope to discuss commodity price stabilization, economic diversification, controls of foreign investment and a substantial economic aid. indeed, to put words in the mouth, what they were thinking about was a marshall plan for latin america. assertionuman ameren -- truman administration postponed the conference. every year, there was a different excuse or what they could not have it.
the united states had new challenges. the soviet union's domination of eastern europe. the greek civil war. the stagnation of western european economies and the collapse of chinese national forces. by comparison, the assessment of was that let america was largely immune to soviet aggression. ambassador put it to the brazilian press, they asked him about the economic aid, when will it come, the u.s. ambassador put this to the press -- "the situation might be graphically represented as a case of smallpox in europe competing with a common cold in latin america." needless to say he could've chosen better words than that. also, there was only so much money.
the secretary of state tried to explain why there would be no marshall plan for latin america at bogota. he invited let americans to trust in free-trade principles. latin americans would prosper once western europe and japan recovered and could resume regular trading patterns with europeans. marshall's speech was greeted by stony silence by latin american delegates. the reality is, there was only so much money. during the marshall plan years, the united states was contributing 2.7% of its gross national product to foreign aid. 2.7% of gnp was going to western europe and japan. we tend to think of ourselves as lady bountiful. the united states has been giving about 1/10 of 1% of the gnp to foreign aid the last three decades.
the united nations asked wealthy nations to get 7/10 of 1%. during the truman administration, americans were digging deep. to rebuildingnt western europe and japan. there is only a certain amount of money. between 1940 six and 1952, the united states would provide more economic assistance to belgium, a very small country, and luxembourg, about the size of this room. we were providing more money to belgium and luxembourg than to all of latin america combined. i would point out that from 1953 to 1961, we provided more economic aid to communist yugoslavia and to all of latin america. , this denial of economic assistance had immediate regional ramification.
the dreams of latin american democrats vanished. in 1948, military officers overthrew new, popular governments in peru and venezuela. elsewhere, the pace of change and reform slowed dramatically. without economic support, without u.s. economic support, the progressive governments that had come to power between 1940 and 1946 could not find the promised social reform that would legitimize constitutional role. as the mexican foreign minister put it, economic corporation was the one way to provide the only sound basis for hemispheric peace. they were immediate ramifications of the denial of economic assistance. i'm not suggesting that the truman administration had any other choice. there is only so much money. there was the issue of western europe. the denial of economic aid took its toll on inter-american
relations. after chinese troops crossed the yellow river and attacked u.s. forces in late 1950, the secretary of state hastily convened a meeting with latin american foreign ministers and ,leaded for military assistance this was early 1951 in washington. this time, only colombia responded positively, sending a battalion of troops and a frigate. brazil in particular, the largest and most populist country that truman visited in 1947, deeply disappointed truman administration officials. they declined the u.s. request to send a division of troops to the korean theater. there were not be a repeat of the successful world war ii cooperation that saw the dispatch of a brazilian expeditionary force to italy. as the brazilian or minister observed, "brazil's present andtion would be different
our corporation in the present emergency would probably be greater if washington had elaborated a recovery plan for latin america similar to the marshall plan for western europe." now, to be sure, the truman administration took no pleasure in what latin americans complained about. word they used was neglect. president truman and advisors understood the region was vital to u.s. prosperity. trade with southern neighbors represented about 30% of u.s. total trade. u.s. direct investments in latin america amounted to about 4% of u.s. direct investment around the world. u.s. oil companies had over $1 billion invested in venezuela in oil fields peered up to about
1950, administration officials continued to speak the language of democracy, constitutionalism and human rights. the state department public we lamented the use of force in the aftermath of the overthrow of constitutional government in peru and venezuela, but as was pointed out this morning, united states adhere to the nonintervention principle. overthrowtarian's democratic governments, the u.s. has no right to intervene. the administration was also loath to sign agreements with individual governments, knowing would simply use anti-communist agreements to suppress their own population, labeling anybody who wanted change as a communist. it wouldull well strike a responsive chord in the united states. , they wouldtates
sign anti-communist agreements, and they would say this pushes the ploy by right-wing dictators and despots. however, the truman administration began to perceive latin america in a slightly different way. the prison they were using -- rism there were using was less regional and more global. triumphed ins had china. shanghai scheck and his nationalist forces had retreated to taiwan. the u.s. forces have become at the end of 1950 still made it -- alemated.l
if you look at the national security papers, concrete threat perception to latin america had not changed. again, all of the varieties of assessments were that the soviet union posed no threat to latin america. nonetheless, the truman administration began to change it discourse when it came to latin america. the fear of an ascendant global communist conspiracy supplanted a commitment to democracy and social progress. not so much in action but more in words. we look at the papers, the memorandums of conversation, the national security analysis, you latinre of interpreting america through a global prism. the assistant secretary of state for latin america openly
speculated in a speech in 1950 whether the united states could there to the oas charter in nonintervention principle. it was pointed out it was kind contradiction. suppose latin americans don't go along with the idea of collective defense? they would not if it finally does the nonintervention principle. j cannon made a famous tour of let america. .e hated everywhere he went he hated the whole thing. he was angry he had to meet with latin american foreign ministers and go through a variety of formal lunches and dinners, etc.. he writes this really nasty review of latin american history and culture when he gets back. memorandum, he
recommended that in the cold war, the united states should trust dictators more than democrats. areanti-communist dictators ostensibly anti-communist wouldors, whereas others just parrot the anti-communist line. out,s correctly pointed this thing was so inflammatory that it was put away in a safe. region -- to those those reasons a minute. -- in military aid package was also pushed through congress. communistt the movement had overrode concerns the military aid would bolster authoritarian machines and trigger a hemispheric arms race. during the period from 1945 until 1950, there has been talk of military aid for but that had
been pretty much locked by the idea that if you give military arms to dictators, they will use the arms not to prevent threat , theyhe soviet union, would use the arms to repress their own population and was blocked. the one person that was not mentioned this morning we have to mention, the most formidable person in the state department and within the truman administration is secretary of state dean addison. he would have none of that. life, heis entire basically believed that no serious threat could ever come from latin america. he wasn't particularly interested in their affairs. adherent of the non-interventionist principle. about thesome talk free holdings in guatemala. he squashed that. kennan's nastyge
memoranda and to be put in a safe and not opened. it was gone for 25 years until was inadvertently discovered. throughout his life, he also believed that let america was not a threat united states. in 1961, he had a face-to-face with john kennedy and he was withering in his criticism about the bay of pigs in terms of john kennedy saying that the operation should never have been approved. believed the united states should defend western europe, the greatest threat would be from the soviet union. during the 1952 presidential campaign, dwight -- dwight court eisenhower blasted the truman administration for reneging on
aid. eisenhower, it was exploited. the truman administration had turned a good neighbor policy into a poor neighbor policy, he charged. eisenhower promised change. change came home and not for the better, at least as perceived i latin america. the president and secretary of state did not have the same views as dean acheson. they ruled the u.s. could not abide by the nonintervention principle. when i first discovered this in the documents, it was already ducted. but if you look hard, you can find the drafted memorandums, the actual passage where the u.s. ruled it could not abide by the nonintervention principle. dulles also implicitly accepted george kennan's advice that in the name of anti-communism,
united states should ally with right-wing dictators like in cuba and venezuela. eisenhower and dulles also authorized the cia to destabilize the constitutional government in guatemala. i call it the mother of all interventions. the covert intervention proved catastrophic for guatemala, setting off a cycle of political violence that led to the deaths of 200,000 people and set a president for future cold war interventions in countries such chile and nicaragua. to return to the original truman is nots
lower members to let america because educated latin americans august on the post truman years and what happened after 1952. with the repeated cold war interventions that brought such misery to the region. thank you for listening to me. [applause] >> i have is not lower members to let america because educated latin americans august been enjoying all of have told all of our students that they have to ask questions. hello again. how eisenhowert later supported the memorandum implicitly after their response. however, if let's say, truman however happened to continue along the lines, once the dissolution of democratic governments in those countries,
were they going to happen anyway even without covert intervention? stephen: there are several things here. theses is that the lack of intervention may have caused the collapse of democratic society. that is a hypothetical that cannot be proven or disproven. that't make the argument transitioning from an -- it isrian past always different. eisenhower, in terms of expediting the transition to authoritarian government? stephen: john foster dulles is very different from dean addison. dulles takes a patronizing, condescending attitude toward latin americans. democracyo think that and constitutionalism and human rights was not in the nature of
things. i think if you pushed them hard, he would probably think it was pretty much written that let americans were incapable of respect for human rights. prison eisenhower several times address the issue at national security council meetings and would simply reject that point of view. but the reality is the policy of united states in the 1950's was to ally with right-wing dictators in latin america. the highest award we can give to a foreign person is the legion of merit. venezuela to perez of and a dictator improve. the legion of merit said they were strong, anti-communist, etc. cited themof merit for perfecting u.s. oil investments.
if you were to give a list of americans, i latin notice in the last c-span list of presidents, dwight eisenhower was number five and truman was number six. how truman is below eisenhower, i don't know. but if you ask latin americans to list u.s. presidents in order, people such as eisenhower , richard nixon, ronald reagan, would be near the very bottom. many of the democrats that would return to power, such as in venezuela and costa rica, simply the john foster dulles and eisenhower. they perceive not only a distance, but alliance with the dictators in the name of anti-communism. my question is, do you think
that during the truman administration, in retrospect, do you think they made a mistake in not giving more economic aid to latin america, and also would it have helped prevent a lot of the future problems and dictatorships and things like that? stephen: you ask an excellent question. it is normally not a historian's duty to assign mistakes. i'm not critical of the lack of economic aid because there is only so much money. one would be hard-pressed to criticize the marshall plan. in my view, it is the most successful foreign policy the u.s. has pursued during the history of international relations. i don't think that is controversial. rebuilding western europe and japan was in the best interest of the united states and international security.
there is very little doubt about that. again, from the latin american perspective, how they might see it. that's what a historian should do, how each side should see it. if you're in the field of international relations, and it you will see as tom and brad speaks, they have done enormous research in bolivia and columbia to get their perspective. it is important as a historian to explain how people perceive things. if you are a latin american, here is what they are saying. you're giving money to germany and japan, the enemies, and leaving your friends out. how can you do this? as you proceed through the 1950's and you are giving more money to communist lucas lumia -- communist yugoslavia than all of latin america, it rubs wrong. i think the other part of the question, is probably true that there was more economic assistance offered -- that if
there was more economic assistance offered, it probably would've helped some of these young governments to survive. we can point to the alliance for progress, it certainly helped country such as venezuela solidify its constitutional role in the 1960's. certainly point to contemporary examples in columbia. i would not call it a mistake , given howm not sure the truman administration perceived world, given the need to defend western europe and rebuild western europe, given the obvious suffering in western europe, i don't know what other choice they had. mistake is too strong a word. are in power, you have to make difficult decisions. these are the decisions made. are verytin americans disappointed because they
perceive this idea that if western europe and japan were rebuilt, you could sell more things to these societies. in the perspective, we will sell raw materials and food products, which will leave us in a dependent status, and they want to have economic diversification. it may be tragedy is a better word than mistake. again, in the way faulting the truman administration for the choices they made. yes? >> during your speech, you said that during the korean conflict, we were devoting 2.7% to the marshall plan. went, what we were giving south america was very small. today, what percentage are we providing in foreign aid to south america? give you theuldn't
percentage, the amount of money is very small. ,e are still funding columbia as best i know. when i was in columbia -- we've been giving them about $6 billion, $7 billion in selecting 99 for security and economic development. so the central government could gain control of the entire country. in the last year or two of the obama administration, a significant aid package of several hundred million was prepared for central america, particularly honduras, guatemala and el salvador. thechildren were fleeing country because of internal violence and showing up at the u.s. border. the idea was internal development might stem the flow of migration to the u.s. texas border by children and mothers. i think someone like secretary
acheson might point out that the policy pursued in the 1980's in countries such as el salvador and guatemala, helped create the to violence.at led >> hi. how you were discussing they did not implement anything like a marshall plan in latin america, do you think truman would have thought that was more because latin america would not have posed a threat being neglected as europe would have, or because he agreed with his advisor that latin americans are unlikely to form strong democracies, and thus the money would not achieve its goal? good question. you don't see the patronizing, condescending
attitude toward let america in the truman restriction. in the state department, they are still in view of the good neighbor policy and that there is hope for the future. you saw that in what was discussed this morning about .4, still a desire to help. there is a clear change in attitude in the eisenhower administration. they be not by eisenhower, but in the larger national security and state department. the decision is made on national security grounds. they are a threat. i think i saw in order of listing that latin america was listed as number 11 as being a threat to the united states or international instability. that areas such as western , vietnam,ia, china etc. were all considered a higher priority. from a let american perspective, they were perceived as number
one from 1933 into 1940, and somewhat through world war ii. then, from their perspective, they are being neglected. this kind of a norma's that you see in the rio treaty, in the falls by the wayside. they degree much. [applause] >> you are watching american history tv all we can every weekend on c-span3. to join the conversation, like us on facebook on c-span history. "reelt weekend on sucker," "don't be a warning against the dangers of persecution of minority groups and instruction of society.
here is a preview. >> i happen to know the facts. i'm just an average american. i am an american american. some of the things i see in this country make my love oil -- my blood boil. gros holding jobs that belong to me. what is going to become of us real men? >> i never expected to hear this in america. what are we real americans going to do about it? you will find it right here in this pamphlet, the truth about negros and foreigners. we will never be able to call this country our own until it is
a country without. >> without what? foreigners,egros, catholics, freemasons. >> was wrong with the masons? i'm a mason. that fellow is talking about me. >> and that makes a difference, doesn't it? >> these are your enemies, the people trying to take over our country. you know what they stand for. it's up to you and me to fight them. fight them and destroy them before they destroy us. thank you. >> before he said mason, you are ready to agree with them. >> but yes, he was talking about those other people. in this country, -- >> in this country, we have no other people. we are american people. >> you aren't american.
>> i was born in hungary, but i am an american citizen and i have seen what this talk can do. i saw it in berlin. i was a professor at the university. i heard the same words we've heard today, but i was a full then. i thought nazis were crazy and stupid fanatics. sucker" airs next america."eel >> up next, the national archives in washington, d.c. host a portrayal of a speech by former slave and abolitionist leader frederick douglass on the meaning of american independence to slaves. following the performance, a discussion is held with the actor, a park the ranger and autho