Miles Culpepper has a good article on The Debt We Owe Central America in Jacobin. Miles is a graduate student in the Department of History at The University of California at Berkeley.
Central America has long functioned as a testing ground for American imperial violence, a region where policymakers and military officials learn brutal tactics and strategies that they then apply elsewhere in the world.
But there’s no reason Central America can’t instead be the point of origin for a more humane, democratic foreign policy. The ballooning defense budgets that accompany American imperial projects weaken our ability to build a decent society at home. The violence engendered by these same projects weakens the ability of our sibling republics to the south and around the world to do the same.
The starting point for an anti-imperialist foreign policy is a simple principle: do no harm. When Central American reform movements emerge to create more egalitarian and democratic societies, Washington needs to get out of their way. When refugees arrive seeking asylum, the US should let them in. And if political violence erupts again, as it did in the 1980s, the US mustn’t side with the military and right-wing elites.
To create a better world, in which families need not flee their homes in a bid for basic personal security, American policymakers cannot close the United States off from the outside world. Nor should they continue to try to remold the world beyond our borders, like so much loose clay, in order to serve selfish political interests at home.
I tend to be more moderate than those who write for Jacobin. Maybe that's my problem. I would have liked to have read more coverage dedicated to recent US-Central American relations and less to the historical angle but the article's still worth a read. I'm actually thinking about using it as the first assignment for students to read in my spring US-Latin American relations course.The moral imperative is instead to fashion a foreign policy based on the noble ideals of democracy, self-determination, and human rights that have inspired men and women across the Americas for generations.