In Chile and the United States, the third volume to appear in the series The United States and the Americas, William F. Sater traces the often stormy course of U.S.-Chilean relations, covering not only policy decisions but also the overall political, cultural, and economic developments that formed the context in which those policies unfolded.
As Sater explains, the Chileans initially believed that they could triumph in the event of a clash with the Americans because of their superior moral commitment and willingness to endure sacrifice. Unintimidated by the size of the United States, Chile found its sense of mission bolstered by the American government's inconsistent enforcement of the Monroe Doctrine and grudging acceptance of Chilean dominance over Peru and Bolivia. Yet, Sater shows, by the end of the nineteenth century Chile had to face reality: its organizational skills could no longer compensate for a limited population and resource base. Worse, just as both the United States and Chile's neighbor Argentina became wealthier and more populous, Chile sank into a political morass that paralyzed its ability to govern itself. Once the premier power of the Pacific, it fell to second-rate status--a fact that nevertheless did little to mitigate the Chileans' sense of cultural superiority.
In the early twentieth century, Sater notes, Chile scored several economic and diplomatic victories over the United States and, after World War II, resorted to various new doctrines and strategies in hopes of regaining its lost glory. When the efforts of strongmen failed, Chileans turned to Christian Democracy, Socialism, and finally military rule--none of which succeeded in restoring the country's political unity and self-esteem. Yet, Sater contends, rather than accept that geopolitical and economic realities had limited their nation's place in the world, Chileans blamed the United States for whatever ills befell them, even as they continued to expect American aid. For its part, the United States insisted that Chile accept its counsel in order to receive U.S. economic assistance. This frustrating standoff, Sater shows, is but the latest phase of a contentious relationship, nearly two centuries in the making, that shows no ready signs of disappearing.
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