Market Democracy in a Neoliberal Order: Doctrines
by Noam Chomsky
Davie Lecture, University of Cape Town, May 1997
Z magazine, October 1997
I have been asked to speak on some aspect of academic or human
freedom, an invitation that offers many choices. I will keep to
some simple ones. Freedom without opportunity is a devil's gift,
and the refusal to provide such opportunities is criminal. The
fate of the more vulnerable offers a sharp measure of the distance
from here to something that might be called "civilization."
While I am speaking, 1000 children will die from easily preventable
disease, and al most twice that many women will die or suffer
serious disability in pregnancy or childbirth for lack of simple
remedies and care. UNICEF estimates that to overcome such tragedies,
and to ensure universal access to basic social services, would
require a quarter of the annual military expenditures of the "developing
countries," about 10 percent of U.S. military spending. It
is against the background of such realities as these that any
serious discussion of human freedom should proceed.
It is widely held that the cure for such profound social maladies
is within reach. The hopes have foundation. The past few years
have seen the fall of brutal tyrannies, the growth of scientific
understanding that offers great promise, and many other reasons
to look forward to a brighter future. The discourse of the privileged
is marked by confidence and triumphalism: the way forward is known,
and there is no other. The basic theme, articulated with force
and clarity, is that "America's victory in the Cold War was
a victory for a set of political and economic principles: democracy
and the free market." These principles are "the wave
of the future-a future for which America is both the gatekeeper
and the model." I am quoting the chief political commentator
of the New York Times, but the picture is conventional, widely
repeated throughout much of the world, and accepted as generally
accurate even by critics. It was also enunciated as the "Clinton
Doctrine," which declared that our new mission is to "consolidate
the victory of democracy and open markets" that had just
been won. There remains a range of disagreement: at one extreme
"Wilsonian idealists" urge continued dedication to the
traditional mission of benevolence; at the other, "realists"
counter that we may lack the means to conduct these crusades of
"global meliorism," and should not neglect our own interests
in the service of others. Within this range lies the path to a
Reality seems to me rather different. The current spectrum
of public policy debate has as little relevance to actual policy
as its numerous antecedents: neither the United States nor any
other power has been guided by "global meliorism." Democracy
is under attack worldwide, including the leading industrial countries;
at least, democracy in a meaningful sense of the term, involving
opportunities for people to manage their own collective and individual
affairs. Something similar is true of markets. The assaults on
democracy and markets are furthermore related. Their roots lie
in the power of corporate entities that are totalitarian in internal
structure, increasingly interlinked and reliant on powerful states,
and largely unaccountable to the public. Their immense power is
growing as a result of social policy that is globalizing the structural
model of the third world, with sectors of enormous wealth and
privilege alongside an increase in "the proportion of those
who will labor under all the hardships of life, and secretly sigh
for a more equal distribution of its blessings," as the leading
framer of American democracy, James Madison, predicted 200 years
ago. These policy choices are most evident in the Anglo-American
societies, but extend worldwide. They cannot be attributed to
what "the free market has decided, in its infinite but mysterious
wisdom," "the implacable sweep of 'the market revolution',"
"Reaganesque rugged individualism," or a "new orthodoxy"
that "gives the market full sway." The quotes are liberal
to-left, in some cases quite critical. The analysis is similar
across the rest of the spectrum, but generally euphoric. The reality,
on the contrary, is that state intervention plays a decisive role,
as in the past, and the basic outlines of policy are hardly novel.
Current versions reflect "capital's clear subjugation of
labor" for more than 15 years, in the words of the business
press, which often frankly articulates the perceptions of a highly
class conscious business community, dedicated to class war.
If these perceptions are valid, then the path to a world that
is more just and more free lies well out side the range set forth
by privilege and power. I cannot hope to establish such conclusions
here, but only to suggest that they are credible enough to consider
with care. And to suggest further that prevailing doctrines could
hardly survive were it not for their contribution to "regimenting
the public mind every bit as much as an army regiments the bodies
of its soldiers," to borrow the dictum of the respected Roosevelt-Kennedy
liberal Edward Bernays in his classic manual for the Public Relations
industry, of which he was one of the founders and leading figures.
Bernays was drawing from his experience in Woodrow Wilson's
state propaganda agency, the Committee on Public Information.
"It was, of course, the astounding success of propaganda
during the war that opened the eyes of the intelligent few in
all departments of life to the possibilities of regimenting the
public mind," he wrote. His goal was to adapt these experiences
to the needs of the "intelligent minorities," primarily
business leaders, whose task is "The conscious and intelligent
manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses."
Such "engineering of consent" is the very "essence
of the democratic process," Bernays wrote shortly before
he was honored for his contributions by the American Psychological
Association in 1949. The importance of "controlling the public
mind" has been recognized with increasing clarity as popular
struggles succeeded in extending the modalities of democracy,
thus giving rise to what liberal elites call "the crisis
of democracy" as when normally passive and apathetic populations
be come organized and seek to enter the political arena to pursue
their interests and demands, threatening stability and order.
As Bernays explained the problem, with "universal suffrage
and universal schooling, . . . at last even the bourgeoisie stood
in fear of the common people. For the masses promised to become
king," a tendency fortunately reversed-so it has been hoped-as
new methods "to mold the mind of the masses" were devised
To discover the true meaning of the "political and economic
principles" that are declared to be "the wave of the
future," it is necessary to go beyond rhetorical flourishes
and public pronouncements and to investigate actual practice and
the internal documentary record. Close examination of particular
cases is the most rewarding path, but these must be chosen carefully
to give a fair picture. There are some natural guidelines. One
reasonable approach is to take the examples chosen by the proponents
of the doctrines themselves, as their "strongest case."
Another is to investigate the record where influence is greatest
and interference least, so that we see the operative principles
in their purest form. If we want to determine what the Kremlin
meant by "democracy" and "human rights," we
will pay little heed to Pravda's solemn denunciations of racism
in the United States or state terror in its client regimes, even
less to protestation of noble motives. Far more instructive is
the state of affairs in the "people's democracies" of
Eastern Europe. The point is elementary, and applies to the self-designated
"gatekeeper and model" as well. Latin America is the
obvious testing ground, particularly the Central America-Caribbean
region. Here Washington has faced few external challenges for
almost a century, so the guiding principles of policy, and of
today's neoliberal "Washington consensus," are revealed
most clearly when we examine the state of the region, and how
that came about.
Washington's "crusade for democracy," as it is called,
was waged with particular fervor during the Reagan years, with
Latin America the chosen terrain. The results are commonly offered
as a prime illustration of how the U.S. became "the inspiration
for the triumph of democracy in our time," to quote the editors
of the leading intellectual journal of American liberalism. The
author, Sanford Lakoff, singles out the "historic North American
Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)" as a potential instrument of
democratization. In the region of traditional U.S. influence,
he writes, the countries are moving towards democracy, having
"survived military intervention" and "vicious civil
The primary "barriers to implementation" of democracy,
Lakoff suggests, are the "vested interests" that seek
to protect "domestic markets"-that is, to prevent foreign
(mainly U.S.) corporations from gaining even greater control over
the society. We are to understand, then, that democracy is enhanced
as significant decision-making shifts even more into the hands
of unaccountable private tyrannies, mostly foreign-based. Meanwhile
the public arena is to shrink still further as the state is "minimized"
in accordance with the neoliberal "political and economic
principles" that have emerged triumphant. A study of the
World Bank points out that the new orthodoxy represents "a
dramatic shift away from a pluralist, participatory ideal of politics
and towards an authoritarian and technocratic ideal...,"
one that is very much in accord with leading elements of 20th
century liberal and progressive thought, and in another variant,
the Leninist model; the two are more similar than often recognized.
Thinking through the tacit reasoning, we gain some useful insight
into the concepts of democracy and markets, in the operative sense.
Lakoff does not look into the revival of democracy" in
Latin America, but he does cite a scholarly source that includes
a contribution on Washington's crusade in the 1980s. The author
is Thomas Carothers, who combines scholarship with an "insider's
perspective," having worked on "democracy enhancement"
programs in Reagan's State Department. Carothers regards Washington's
"impulse to promote democracy" as "sincere,"
but largely a failure. Furthermore, the failure was systematic:
where Washington's influence was least, in South America, there
was real progress towards democracy, which the Reagan administration
generally opposed, later taking credit for it when the process
proved irresistible. Where Washington's influence was greatest,
progress was least, and where it occurred, the U.S. role was marginal
or negative. His general conclusion is that the U.S. sought to
maintain "the basic order of...quite undemocratic societies"
and to avoid "populist-based change," "inevitably
[seeking] only limited, top-down forms of democratic change that
did not risk upsetting the traditional structures of power with
which the United States has long been allied. "
The last phrase requires a gloss. The term "United States"
is conventionally used to refer to structures of power within
the United States; the "national interest" is the interest
of these groups, which correlates only weakly with interests of
the general population. So the conclusion is that Washington sought
top down forms of democracy that did not upset traditional structures
of power with which the structures of power in the United States
have long been allied.
To appreciate the significance of the fact, it is necessary
to examine more closely the nature of parliamentary democracies.
The United States is the most important case, not only because
of its power, but because of its stable and long-standing democratic
institutions. Furthermore, the United States was about as close
to a model as one can find. America can be "As happy as she
pleases," Thomas Paine remarked in 1776: "she has a
blank sheet to write upon. "The indigenous societies were
largely eliminated. There is little residue of earlier European
structures, one reason for the relative weakness of the social
contract and of support systems, which often had their roots in
pre-capitalist institutions. And to an unusual extent, the socio-political
order was consciously designed. In studying history, one cannot
construct experiments, but the U.S. is as close to the "ideal
case" of state capitalist democracy as can be found.
Furthermore, the leading framer of the constitutional system
was an astute and lucid political thinker, James Madison, whose
views largely prevailed. In the debates on the Constitution, Madison
pointed out that in England, if elections "were open to all
classes of people, the property of landed proprietors would be
insecure. An agrarian law would soon take place," giving
land to the landless. The system that he and his associates were
designing must prevent such injustice, he urged, and "secure
the permanent interests of the country," which are property
rights. It is the responsibility of government, Madison declared,
"to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority."
To achieve this goal, political power must rest in the hands of
"the wealth of the nation," men who would "sympathize
sufficiently" with property rights and "be safe depositories
of power over them," while the rest are marginalized and
fragmented, offered only limited public participation in the political
arena. Among Madisonian scholars, there is a consensus that "The
Constitution was intrinsically an aristocratic document designed
to check the democratic tendencies of the period," delivering
power to a "better sort" of people and excluding "those
who were not rich, well born, or prominent from exercising political
power." These conclusions are often qualified by the observation
that Madison, and the constitutional system generally, sought
to balance the rights of persons against the rights of property.
But the formulation is misleading.
Property has no rights. In both principle and practice, the
phrase "rights of property" means the right to property,
typically material property, a personal right which must be privileged
above all others, and is crucially different from others in that
one person's possession of such rights deprives another of them.
When the facts are stated clearly, we can appreciate the force
of the doctrine that "the people who own the country ought
to govern it," "one of [the] favorite maxims" of
Madison's influential colleague John Jay, his biographer observes.
One may argue, as some historians do, that these principles
lost their force as the national territory was conquered and settled,
the native population driven out or exterminated. Whatever one's
assessment of those years, by the late l9th century the founding
doctrines took on a new and much more oppressive form.
But the growth of the industrial economy, and the rise of
corporate forms of economic enterprise, led to a completely new
meaning of the term. In a current official document, "Person"
is broadly defined to include any individual, branch, partnership,
associated group, association, estate, trust, corporation or other
organization (whether or not organized under the laws of any State),
or any government entity," a concept that doubtless would
have shocked Madison and others with intellectual roots in the
Enlightenment and classical liberalism-pre-capitalist, and anti-capitalist
These radical changes in the conception of human rights and
democracy were not introduced primarily by legislation, but by
judicial decisions and intellectual commentary. Corporations,
which previously had been considered artificial entities with
no rights, were accorded all the rights of persons, and far more,
since they are "immortal persons," and "persons"
of extraordinary wealth and power. Furthermore, they were no longer
bound to the specific purposes designated by state charter, but
could act as they chose, with few constraints. The intellectual
backgrounds for granting such extraordinary rights to "collectivist
legal entities" lie in neo-Hegelian doctrines that also underlie
Bolshevism and fascism: the idea that organic entities have rights
over and above those of persons. Conservative legal scholars bitterly
opposed these innovations, recognizing that they undermine the
traditional idea that rights inhere in individuals, and undermine
market principles as well. But the new forms of authoritarian
rule were institutionalized, and along with them, the legitimation
of wage labor, which was considered hardly better than slavery
in mainstream American thought through much of the l9th century,
not only by the rising labor movement but also by such figures
as Abraham Lincoln, the Republican Party, and the establishment
These are topics with enormous implications for understanding
the nature of market democracy. The material and ideological outcome
helps explain the understanding that "democracy" abroad
must reflect the model sought at home: "top-down" forms
of control, with the public kept to a "spectator" role,
not participating in the arena of decision-making, which must
exclude these "ignorant and meddlesome outsiders," according
to the mainstream of modern democratic theory. I happen to be
quoting the essays on democracy by Walter Lippmann, one of the
most respected American public intellectuals and journalists of
the century. But the general ideas are standard and have solid
roots in the constitutional tradition, radically modified, however,
in the new era of collectivist legal entities.
Returning to the "victory of democracy" under U.
. guidance, neither Lakoff nor Carothers asks how Washington maintained
the traditional power structure of highly undemocratic societies.
Their topic is not the terrorist wars that left tens of thousands
of tortured and mutilated corpses, millions of refugees, and devastation
perhaps beyond recovery-in large measure wars against the Church,
which became an enemy when it adopted "the preferential option
for the poor," trying to help suffering people to attain
some measure of justice and democratic rights. It is more than
symbolic that the terrible decade of the 1980s opened with the
murder of an Archbishop who had become "a voice for the voiceless,"
and closed with the assassination of six leading Jesuit intellectuals
who had chosen the same path, in each case by terrorist forces
armed and trained by the victors of the "crusade for democracy."
One should take careful note of the fact that the leading Central
American dissident intellectuals were doubly assassinated: both
murdered, and silenced. Their words, indeed their very existence,
are scarcely known in the United States, unlike dissidents in
enemy states, who are greatly honored and admired; another cultural
universal, I presume.
Such matters do not enter history as recounted by the victors.
In Lakoffs study, which is not untypical in this regard, what
survives are references to "military intervention" and
"civil wars," with no external factor identified. These
matters will not so quickly be put aside, however, by those who
seek a better grasp of the principles that are to shape the future,
if the structures of power have their way. Particularly revealing
is Lakoff' s description of Nicaragua, again standard: "a
civil war was ended following a democratic election, and a difficult
effort is underway to create a more prosperous and self governing
society." In the real world, the superpower attacking Nicaragua
escalated its assault on the country's first democratic election:
the election of 1984, closely monitored and recognized as legitimate
by the professional association of Latin American scholars (LASA),
Irish, and British Parliamentary delegations, and others, including
a hostile Dutch government delegation that was remarkably supportive
of Reaganite atrocities, as well as the leading figure of Central
American democracy, Jose Figueres of Costa Rica, also critical
observer, though regarding the elections as legitimate in this
"invaded country," and calling on Washington to allow
the Sandinistas "to finish what they started in peace; they
deserve it." The U.S. strongly opposed the holding of the
elections and sought to undermine them, concerned that democratic
elections might interfere with its terrorist war. But that concern
was put to rest by the good behavior of the doctrinal system,
which barred the reports with remarkable efficiency, reflexively
adopting the state propaganda line that the elections were meaningless
Overlooked as well is the fact that as the next election approached
on schedule, Washington left no doubt that unless the results
came out the right way, Nicaraguans would continue to endure the
illegal economic warfare and unlawful use of force" that
the World Court had condemned and ordered terminated, of course
in vain. This time the outcome was acceptable, and hailed in the
U.S. with an outburst of exuberance that is highly informative.
At the outer limits of critical independence, columnist Anthony
Lewis of the New York Times was overcome with admiration for Washington's
"experiment in peace and democracy," which showed that
"we live in a romantic age." The experimental methods
were no secret. Thus Time magazine, joining in the celebration
as "democracy burst forth" in Nicaragua, outlined them
frankly: to "wreck the economy and prosecute a long and deadly
proxy war until the exhausted natives overthrow the unwanted government
themselves," with a cost to us that is "minimal,"
leaving the victim "with wrecked bridges, sabotaged power
stations, and ruined farms," and providing Washington's candidate
with "a winning issue," ending the "impoverishment
of the people of Nicaragua," not to speak of the continuing
terror, better left unmentioned.
The methods of this "romantic age," and the reaction
to them in enlightened circles, tell us more about the democratic
principles that have emerged victorious. They also shed some light
on why it is such a "difficult effort" to "create
a more prosperous and self-governing society" in Nicaragua.
It is true that the effort is now underway, and is meeting with
some success for a privileged minority, while most of the population
faces social and economic disaster, all in the familiar pattern
of Western dependencies.
We learn more about the victorious principles by recalling
that these same representative figures of liberal intellectual
life had urged that Washington's wars must be waged mercilessly,
with military support for "Latin-style fascists,...regardless
of how many are murdered," because "there are higher
American priorities than Salvadoran human rights." Elaborating,
editor Michael Kinsley, who represented "the left" in
mainstream commentary and television debate, cautioned against
unthinking criticism of Washington's official policy of attacking
undefended civilian targets. Such international terrorist operations
cause "vast civilian suffering," he acknowledged, but
they may be "perfectly legitimate" if "cost-benefit
analysis" shows that "the amount of blood and misery
that will be poured in" yields "democracy," as
the world rulers define it. Enlightened opinion insists that terror
is not a value in itself, but must meet the pragmatic criterion.
Kinsley later observed that the desired ends had been achieved:
"impoverishing the people of Nicaragua was precisely the
point of the contra war and the parallel policy of economic embargo
and veto of international development loans," which "wreck[ed]
the economy" and "creat[ed] the economic disaster [that]
was probably the victorious opposition's best election issue."
He then joined in welcoming the "triumph of democracy"
in the "free election" of 1990.
Client states enjoy similar privileges. Thus, commenting on
yet another of Israel's attacks on Lebanon, foreign editor H.D.S.
Greenway of the Boston Globe, who had graphically reported the
first major invasion 15 years earlier, commented that "If
shelling Lebanese villages, even at the cost of lives, and driving
civilian refugees north would secure Israel's border, weaken Hezbollah,
and promote peace, I would say go to it, as would many Arabs and
Israelis. But history has not been kind to Israeli adventures
in Lebanon. They have solved very little and have almost always
caused more problems." By the pragmatic criterion, then,
the murder of many civilians, expulsion of hundreds of thousand
of refugees, and devastation of southern Lebanon is a dubious
Also revealing was the reaction to periodic Reagan administration
allegations about Nicaraguan plans to obtain jet interceptors
from the Soviet Union (the U.S. having coerced its allies into
refusing to sell them). Hawks demanded that Nicaragua be bombed
at once. Doves countered that the charges must first be verified,
but if they were, the U. S. would have to bomb Nicaragua. Sane
observers understood why Nicaragua might want jet interceptors:
to protect its territory from CIA overflights that were supplying
the U.S. proxy forces and providing them with up-to-the-minute
information so that they could follow the directive to attack
undefended "soft targets." The tacit assumption is that
no country has a right to defend civilians from U.S. attack. The
doctrine, which reigned unchallenged, is an interesting one. It
might be illuminating to seek counterparts elsewhere.
The pretext for Washington's terrorist wars was self-defense,
the standard official justification for just about any monstrous
act, even the Nazi Holocaust. Indeed Ronald Reagan, finding "that
the policies and actions of the Government of Nicaragua constitute
an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and
foreign policy of the United States," declared "a national
emergency to deal with that threat," arousing no ridicule.
Others react differently. In response to John F. Kennedy's efforts
to organize collective action against Cuba in 1961, a Mexican
diplomat explained that Mexico could not go along, because "If
we publicly declare that Cuba is a threat to our security, forty
million Mexicans will die laughing. Enlightened opinion in the
West takes a more sober view of the extraordinary threat to national
security. By similar logic, the USSR had every right to attack
Denmark, a far greater threat to its security, and surely Poland
and Hungary when they took steps towards independence. The fact
that such pleas can regularly be put forth is again an interesting
comment on the intellectual culture of the victors, and another
indication of what lies ahead.
The substance of the Cold War pretexts is greatly illuminated
by the case of Cuba, as are the real operative principles. These
have emerged with much clarity once again in the past few weeks,
with Washington's refusal to accept World Trade Organization adjudication
of a European Union challenge to its embargo, which is unique
in its severity, and had already been condemned as a violation
of international law by the Organization of American States and
repeatedly by the United Nations, with near unanimity, more recently
extended to severe penalties for third parties that disobey Washington's
edicts, yet another violation of international law and trade agreements.
The official response of the Clinton administration, as re ported
by the Newspaper of Record, is that "Europe is challenging
'three decades of American Cuba policy that goes back to the Kennedy
Administration,' and is aimed entirely at forcing a change of
government in Havana." The Administration also declared that
the WTO "has no competence to proceed" on an issue of
American national security, and cannot "force the U.S. to
change its laws."
The reasoning with regard to the WTO is reminiscent of the
official U. S. grounds for dismissing World Court adjudication
of Nicaragua's charges. In both cases, the U.S. rejected jurisdiction
on the plausible assumption that rulings would be against the
U.S.; by simple logic, then, neither is a proper forum. The State
Department Legal Adviser explained that when the U.S. accepted
World Court jurisdiction in the 1940s, most members of the UN
"were aligned with the United States and shared its views
regarding world order." But now "A great many of these
cannot be counted on to share our view of the original constitutional
conception of the UN Charter," and "This same majority
often opposes the United States on important international questions."
Lacking a guarantee that it will get its way, the U.S. must now
"reserve to ourselves the power to determine whether the
Court has jurisdiction over us in a particular case," on
the principle that " the United States does not accept compulsory
jurisdiction over any dispute involving matters essentially within
the domestic jurisdiction of the United States, as deter mined
by the United States." The "domestic matters" in
question were the U.S. attack against Nicaragua.
The media, along with intellectual opinion generally, agreed
that the Court discredited itself by ruling against the United
States. The crucial parts of its decision were not reported, including
its determination that all U.S. aid to the contras is military
and not humanitarian; it remained "humanitarian aid"
across the spectrum of respectable opinion until Washington's
terror, economic warfare, and subversion of diplomacy brought
about the "victory for U.S. fair play. "
Returning to the WTO case, we need not tarry on the allegation
that the existence of the United States is at stake in the strangulation
of the Cuban economy. More interesting is the thesis that the
U.S. has every right to overthrow another government, in this
case, by aggression, large-scale terror over many years, and economic
strangulation. Accordingly, international law and trade agreements
are irrelevant. The fundamental principles of world order that
have emerged victorious again resound, loud and clear.
The Clinton administration declarations passed without challenge,
though they were criticized on narrower grounds by historian Arthur
Schlesinger. Writing "as one involved in the Kennedy administration's
Cuban policy," Schlesinger maintained that the Clinton administration
had misunderstood Kennedy's policies. The concern had been Cuba's
"troublemaking in the hemisphere" and "the Soviet
connection," Schlesinger explained. But these are now behind
us, so the Clinton policies are an anachronism, though otherwise
unobjectionable, so we are to conclude.
Schlesinger did not explain the meaning of the phrases "troublemaking
in the hemisphere" and "the Soviet connection,"
but he has elsewhere, in secret. Reporting to incoming President
Kennedy on the conclusions of a Latin American Mission in early
1961, Schlesinger spelled out the problem of Castro's "troublemaking"-what
the Clinton administration calls Cuba's effort "to destabilize
large parts of Latin America: it is "the spread of the Castro
idea of taking matters into one's own hands," a serious problem,
Schlesinger added, when "The distribution of land and other
forms of national wealth greatly favors the propertied classes...[and]
The poor and underprivileged, stimulated by the example of the
Cu ban revolution, are now demanding opportunities for a decent
living." Schlesinger also explained the threat of the "Soviet
connection": "Meanwhile, the Soviet Union hovers in
the wings, flourishing large development loans and presenting
itself as the model for achieving modernization in a single generation."
The "Soviet connection" was perceived in a similar light
far more broadly in Washington and London, from the origins of
the Cold War 80 years ago.
With these (secret) explanations of Castro's "destabilization"
and "troublemaking in the hemisphere," and of the "Soviet
connection," we come closer to understanding the reality
of the Cold War. It should come as no surprise that basic policies
persist with the Cold War a fading memory, just as they were carried
out before the Bolshevik revolution: the brutal and destructive
invasion of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, to mention just
one illustration of "global meliorism" under the banner
of "Wilsonian idealism. "
It should be added that the policy of overthrowing the government
of Cuba antedates the Kennedy administration. Castro took power
in January 1959. By June, the Eisenhower administration had determined
that his government must be overthrown. Terrorist attacks from
U.S. bases began shortly after. The formal decision to overthrow
Castro in favor of a regime "more devoted to the true interests
of the Cu ban people and more acceptable to the U.S." was
taken in secret in March 1960, with the addendum that the operation
must be carried out "in such a manner as to avoid any appearance
of U.S. intervention," because of the expected reaction in
Latin America and the need to ease the burden on doctrinal managers
at home. At the time, the "Soviet connection" and "troublemaking
in the hemisphere" were nil, apart from the Schlesingerian
version. The CIA estimated that the Castro government enjoyed
popular support (the Clinton administration has similar evidence
today). The Kennedy administration also recognized that its efforts
violated international law and the Charters of the UN and OAS,
but such issues were dismissed without discussion, the declassified