Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Chile and the hubris of U.S. policy

Intellectual battles are still being fought in certain circles over the extent and importance of the U.S. role in destabilizing the Allende government in Chile. Fellow Latin America-phile blogger Randy Paul wrote recently about an issue that had appeared in the New York Times, and earlier in The Nation, about the resignation by Kenneth Maxwell of his position as Latin American books editor of Foreign Affairs magazine. Maxwell had quit after he felt the magazine had caved in to pressures from Henry Kissinger and William Rogers, who were upset about a positive review he'd given on a new book by Peter Kornbluh, The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier On Atrocity And Accountability.

Then, last week, Jeremy Adelman, a Princeton history prof who was set to take over Maxwell's position, declined because of the whole controversy. The New York Times reported:

"While I still think this is an important position and the magazine is important, the amount of time it would take for me to explain the situation to the world of Latin America experts, the world that I inhabit, was too great," he said. He added that the editor of Foreign Affairs, James F. Hoge Jr., was quoted in the Folha as saying that Peter G. Peterson, the council's chairman, had called to advise him that the review had upset Mr. Kissinger and others.
Ah, such a messy affair. The original review is here, while a response by Rogers, and counter-response by Maxwell, is here. Comments from Kornbluh are apparently forthcoming in future editions of the magazine.

All I can say is that I recall hearing that, at a Princeton conference a few years ago on the Allende years, my old prof, Paul Sigmund (who 20 years ago spent a great deal of energy debunking the notion of the importance of the U.S.), after seeing these newly declassified documents, apparently recanted his long-held position that the U.S. role was insignificant and that "Allende would have fallen anyway."

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