Ullman, Richard H.
September 1983
Foreign Affairs;Fall1983, Vol. 62 Issue 1, p39
This article focuses on the current political relationship between the U.S. and Nicaragua as of September 1983. The administration of U.S. President Ronald Reagan is at war with Nicaragua. Like other wars the U.S. has fought since 1945 it is an undeclared war. It is also a small war. No U.S. serviceman has yet fired a shot, but American-made bullets from American-made guns are killing Nicaraguans and the president of the U.S. has made the demise of the present Nicaraguan government an all-but-explicit aim of his foreign policy. For most of that dismal history, few people in the U.S. have had any interest in or concern for Nicaragua. But the agricultural and mineral resources of Nicaragua have been of intense concern to a small number of people in the U.S., and it was the protection of those private interests that for so many years motivated official U.S. policy. That is no longer the case. In an era of burgeoning investments abroad, those in Nicaragua are barely of significance now. The characterizations by the administration of the politics of Nicaragua are not only inaccurate. They are also corrosive in their effect. Marxist Nicaragua is no more apposite today than Marxist Portugal was in 1975. Yet the phrase has become reality for most people in the U.S., just as it has become a staple of the lexicon of the editorial writer in even those newspapers that strongly oppose the not-so-covert war of the administration. In much of the discourse about Central America these days the point is made that the U.S. has a right, even a duty, to control events in its own backyard. That is how most of the world expects a superpower to behave and it is how one should behave.


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