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Posts Tagged ‘Historia de Estados Unidos’

 

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La guerra de Vietnam  marcó la historia de los Estados Unidos. Por casi diez años los estadounidenses pelearon en las junglas vietnamitas contra lo que consideraban una muestra del peligro del expansionismo comunista liderado por la Unión Soviética. Esta guerra tuvo serias consecuencias para los Estados Unidos, pues dividió profundamente la sociedad estadounidense. La oposición a la guerra fue severa y provocó brotes de violencia, sobre todo, en las universidades.

38e06199610ac078f5e08b2e8ca7cdc2En la segunda mitad del siglo XIX, los franceses establecieron su control sobre una vasta zona al sur de China que denominaron Indochina Francesa. La actual república vietnamita formó parte de esa colonia hasta que en la década de 1940 los nacionalistas indochinos aprovecharon el vacío de poder generado por la guerra mundial para declarar su independencia. Una vez finalizada la guerra, los franceses pretendieron retomar el control de su antigua colonia asiática, provocando una sangrienta guerra.   Los vietnamitas lograron derrotar a los franceses en 1954, pero vieron cómo la guerra fría determinaba el futuro de su país. En una conferencia de paz celebrada en Ginebra en julio de 1954, se decidió dividir   a Vietnam en dos hasta la celebración de un referéndum en 1957 para que  los vietnamitas decidirían si se mantenía tal división. Al norte existía un gobierno socialista aliado de la Unión Soviética y al sur se organizó un gobierno anti-comunista aliado y apoyado por los Estados Unidos. El referéndum nunca fue celebrado y Vietnam se convirtió así en un escenario importante de la guerra fría. En el sur surgió el Frente de Liberación Nacional (FLN) o Vietcong, un movimiento político-militar apoyado por el norte que buscaba la reunificación. El inicio de una guerra civil fue cosa de tiempo. Tanto soviéticos como estadounidenses apoyaron a sus respectivos aliados con armas y dinero. Sin embargo, el compromiso estadounidense fue mucho más profundo que el de los soviéticos, pues miles de soldados estadounidenses fueron enviados a pelear a Vietnam.  Las autoridades estadounidenses –Republicanos y Demócratas por igual– decidieron convertir su apoyo a Vietnam de Sur en una muestra del compromiso y la voluntad de los Estados Unidos en la lucha contra el comunismo. Para ellos, el prestigio y la credibilidad de los Estados Unidos estaban a prueba en Vietnam y, por lo tanto, era inevitable que los estadounidenses aceptaran el reto. Además, estaban convencidos de su superioridad moral y militar, y no contemplaron la posibilidad de un derrota

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Kennedy y Vietnam

John F. Kennedy dio gran a importancia al Sudeste Asiático, pues decidió enfrentar lo que él interpretaba como la expansión comunista en la región. De ahí que ordenara envíos masivos de armas y aumentara el número de soldados estadounidenses en la región. Unos 7,000 soldados estadounidenses estaban destacados en Vietnam al comienzo de su presidencia. Tres años más tarde, ese número había crecido a 60,000 soldados. ¿Por qué JFK aumentó el compromiso estadounidense en Vietnam? Por varias  razones. Primero, su deseo de mantener una postura fuerte ante la expansión comunista. JFK veía al comunismo internacional como una fuerza monolítica controlada por los soviéticos y los chinos, y fue incapaz de ver que lo que ocurría en Vietnam era una guerra civil, no una agresión internacional. Además, JFK era un ferviente creyente en la famosa teoría del dominó, es decir, la idea de que la victoria del comunismo en un país generaba un efecto multiplicador en los países vecinos. En otras palabras, JFK creía que si los Estados Unidos permitían una victoria comunista en Vietnam, sería inevitable que países vecinos como Tailandia, Camboya o Laos terminasen  también bajo el control comunista. Kennedy quería evitar ese escenario aun a costa de aumentar la intervención directa de los Estados Unidos en el conflicto vietnamita. Segundo, el temor al costo político de una derrota en Vietnam. JFK tenía  muy claro que sus acciones en Vietnam podían ser usadas por los republicanos para atacarle políticamente en los Estados Unidos y, por ende, no podía dar señales de debilidad o de fracaso.  Todo ello llevó a aumentar la presencia militar en el Sudeste Asiático.

Kennedy no sólo tenía que estar vigilante de la situación política reinante en los Estados Unidos, sino también  en su aliado Vietnam del Sur. El gobierno estadounidense apoyó la división de Vietnam y se convirtió en su principal aliado. Esa alianza resultó problemática ante la ausencia de un liderato survietnamita eficaz. En 1963, el gobierno de Vietnam del Sur estaba bajo el control de un carismático líder católico llamado Ngo Dihn Diem. El presidente vietnamita mantuvo una política represora, que desató una rebelión de los monjes budistas. Varios  monjes  se inmolaron quemándose vivos en protesta contra el gobierno de Diem. Las imágenes de monjes convertidos en antorchas humanas no cayó bien entre los funcionarios de la administración Kennedy. Ello unido al nepotismo, la corrupción y la  incapacidad del gobierno de  Diem para gobernar al país, llevaron a las autoridades estadounidenses a  promover su salida por medio de un golpe de estado. En noviembre de 1963, Diem fue capturado y asesinado por un grupo de militares survietnamitas, lo que dio paso a que Vietnam terminase controlado por varios gobiernos militares corruptos e incapaces de enfrentar al Vietcong. La inexistencia de un interlocutor político valido en Vietnam del Sur obligó a los estadounidenses a asumir el peso del conflicto.

Una de las grandes preguntas de la historia contemporánea de los Estados Unidos es qué hubiese hecho JFK en Vietnam de no haber sido asesinado en noviembre de 1963. Sus simpatizantes alegaban que Kennedy no habría empujado a los Estados Unidos al abismo en que se convirtió la guerra de Vietnam. Otros más escépticos creen que JFK habría mantenido su política anticomunista y que empujado por la teoría del dominó habría continuado la expansión del compromiso militar estadounidense en Vietnam. No hay una contestación definitiva a esta pregunta, pero algo es indiscutible, al ampliar el compromiso estadounidense en Vietnam, JFK  dejó a su sucesor con un serio problema en las manos

Johnson y la pesadilla vietnamita

end2Con la muerte de JFK la responsabilidad sobre qué hacer en Vietnam pasó a manos del Presidente Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ).  Aunque éste consideraba  a Vietnam un país poco importante, temía que una retirada estadounidense abriese las puertas a una intervención de los soviéticos o chinos. Johnson tampoco quería que los Estados Unidos parecieran una nación débil y/o vacilante. Además, el Presidente temía el costo político de una retirada de Vietnam, pues sabía que los republicanos  le atacarían acusándole de ceder ante la amenaza comunista. Empujado por sus temores domésticos e internacionales, LBJ optó por ampliar el compromiso estadounidense en Vietnam, llevándole a niveles impresionantes y peligrosos.

Johnson pretendía pelear una guerra contra el comunismo en Asia y poner en marcha la Gran Sociedad  en los Estados Unidos.  Este programa de reformas buscaba trasformar al país combatiendo la pobreza y  la injusticia racial. Creía que el poderío y la riqueza de los Estados Unidos le permitirían ganar en ambos frentes –el doméstico y el vietnamita– pero la historia demostró que estaba equivocado. La escalada de la intervención estadounidense en Vietnam llevada a cabo por la administración Johnson se convirtió en un hoyo negro que se tragó a la Gran Sociedad, y destruyó la carrera política de  Johnson.

La Resolución del golfo de Tonkín

En agosto de 1964 se desarrollaron unos confusos incidentes entre barcos de la Armada estadounidense y botes patrulla norvietnamitas en el Golfo de Tonkín. Alegadamente, unas lanchas norvietnamitas atacaron al Maddox y el Joy Turner, dos destructores de la Marina estadounidense. Aunque estos ataques no fueron del todo confirmados, fueron usados por el Presidente Johnson para conseguir una resolución legislativa autorizándole a “tomar todas la medidas necesarias” para proteger las fuerzas militares estadounidenses desplegadas en el Sudeste Asiático. Tal resolución fue aprobada en el Senado con 88 votos a favor y 2 en contra, mientras que en la Cámara de Representantes no hubo un solo voto en contra entre sus 406 miembros. Para LBJ, la Resolución del golfo de Tonkín se convirtió en una autorización legal, de duración indefinida, para intensificar y aumentar la participación estadounidense en la guerra de Vietnam.  En otras palabras, un cheque en blanco que le permitiría atacar a Vietnam del Norte y aumentar el número de soldados estadounidenses en el sur. Sin embargo, la resolución también se convirtió en un cuchillo de doble filo, pues al estar basada en un supuesto ataque norvietnamita que nunca fue confirmado del todo, los opositores de la guerra la usarán para acusar a LBJ de haberle mentido al Congreso.

En 1965, el Presidente ordenó el bombardeo de Vietnam del Norte por la Fuerza Aérea estadounidense. La idea de Johnson, era obligar a los norvietnamitas a negociar y cortar la ayuda que éstos brindaban al Vietcong.  De esta forma pensaba alcanzar la victoria Entre 1965 y 1968, los Estados Unidos dejaron caer unas 800 toneladas de bombas diarias sobre Vietnam del Norte, tres veces la cantidad lanzadas en la segunda guerra mundial. A la par, Johnson aumentó el número de soldados estadounidenses en Vietnam de 185,000 en 1965 a 385,000 en 1966. Sin embargo, los estadounidenses no pudieron quebrar la voluntad de lucha de los vietnamitas, quienes  sabían que los Estados Unidos no podrían pelear una guerra indefinida en el Sudeste Asiático. Además, contaban con el apoyo y la ayuda material de la China comunista y de la Unión Soviética. LBJ y sus asesores nunca entendieron que la guerra civil en Vietnam del Sur no era producto de una agresión comunista internacional, sino una manifestación del nacionalismo vietnamita. Ello les condenó al fracaso.

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La oposición a la guerra

La escalada de la guerra provocó la reacción de varios sectores de la sociedad estadounidense. Los primeros en reaccionar fueron los universitarios. En diversas  universidades del país se desarrollaron protestas contra la intervención estadounidense en Vietnam. Estudiantes y profesores desarrollaron debates y discusiones abiertas sobra la guerra, cuestionando la posición de LBJ. En 1966, las protestas contra la guerra en las universidades se desarrollaron a gran escala con la participación de miles de estudiantes. Intelectuales y religiosos se unieron a los estudiantes en la lucha contra la guerra. En 1967, varios personas prominentes se expresaron abiertamente en contra de la presencia militar de los Estados Unidos en el Sudeste Asiático.  Políticos demócratas como Robert Kennedy, William Fulbright y George McGovern, el escritor Benjamin Spock y el líder de los derechos civiles Martin Luther King criticaron la política belicista del Presidente Johnson.

Los críticos de la guerra resaltaron la injusticia social que escondía la guerra, pues eran los pobres y las minorías quienes cargaban con el peso del conflicto. El sistema de reclutamiento militar estadounidense favorecía a la clase alta y media porque eximía de ir a la guerra a quienes  estaban matriculados en alguna universidad. Dado que la mayoría de  los universitarios eran miembros de la clase media, estuvieron en una mejor posición para evitar ser reclutados y enviados a Vietnam. Por ello no debe ser una sorpresa que el 80% de los soldados enviados a Vietnam eran  pobres  o  hijos de familias trabajadoras.

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La cobertura televisiva de la guerra abonó al desarrollo de la oposición a ésta en los Estados Unidos. Noche tras  noche, los estadounidenses podían ver en la pantalla de sus televisores los efectos de la guerra: los bombardeos, el uso de napalm, los civiles muertos o mutilados, etc. Con horror, muchos estadounidenses vieron como las tropas de su país quemaban las villas y pueblos de los vietnamitas a quienes supuestamente estaban protegiendo del comunismo. Noche tras noche, los estadounidenses podían ver en las pantallas de su televisores los nombres de los estadounidenses muertos en Vietnam.

Es necesario aclarar que a pesar del desarrollo de un oposición activa, la mayoría de los estadounidenses continuaron apoyando o simplemente no adoptaron una posición con relación a la guerra de Vietnam.  Para finales de la década de 1960, la guerra había polarizado a los Estados Unidos  y lo peor estaba por venir.

Norberto Barreto Velázquez

Lima, 5 de octubre de 2019

 

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Debo comenzar señalando que Bugs Bunny es y será mi caricatura favorita. Este pequeño sociopata me cautivó desde que era muy niño, por lo que no he podido vencer la tentación de compartir esta nota de Bruce Chadwick profesor de la Rutgers University, sobre el papel que ha jugado Bugs Bunny en la cultura popular estadounidense.

What’s Up, Doc?’’ Bugs Bunny Takes on the New York Philharmonic, Carrots and All

by Bruce Chadwick

That wascally wabbit, Bugs Bunny, the notorious carrot chomping, sarcastic cartoon rabbit who first leaped on to the nations’ movie screens in 1940 and has been the star of 800 cartoons, four movies and 21 television specials, is back again, this time as the star of a special concert, Bugs Bunny at the Symphony II, in which the New York Philharmonic, live, plays the music of a dozen full length cartoons from the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series, most starring Bugs, while the audience watches the cartoons themselves on a large movie screen. The production is at David Geffen Hall, the Philharmonic’s home, at Lincoln Center, New York. The show is this coming weekend as part of its national tour. 

The concert/show, co-sponsored by Warner Bros., under different names, created by conductor George Daugherty and David Ka Lik Wong, has been traveling through the United States for about 20 years and has been seen by 2.5 million Bugs enthusiasts. In addition to the show, patrons at Lincoln Center will get to meet a number of furry and colorful Looney Tunes characters who will be roaming through the lobby before the curtain. If Wile E. Coyote is there, watch out for him!

Among the cartoons to be screened will be Baton Bunny, Show Biz Bugs, Rhapsody Rabbit, Tom and Jerry at the Hollywood Bowl, The Rabbit of Seville, Rabid Rider, Coyote Falls, Robin Hood Daffy and What’s Opera, Doc?.

Conductor Daugherty was a Bugs fan as a kid, but it was not because of the rabbit’s zany onscreen antics. No, it was because the Bugs Bunny cartoons, and most in the Looney Tunes and Merrie Meodies cartoon factories work used the music of the great classical composers, such as Wagner, Rossini, Liszt and Donizetti. “I was a classical music fan as a boy and I reveled in listening to this great music used as the backdrop for these cartoons. I also appreciated the fact that millions of American kids were being introduced to classical music through Bugs Bunny,” he said.

The Bugs Bunny shows are like no other.

Fans at the Bugs concerts go wild. They cheer the good guys and jeer the bad guys. They applaud. They whoop. The juxtaposition of one of the world’s great orchestra’s playing the music of Richard Wagner as patrons of all ages shout and scream is both puzzling and wonderful.

“You go to a typical classic music concert and everybody is very quiet and respectful of the music. You go to a Bugs Bunny cartoon concert, though, and you lose all abandon. That’s what happens at these performances,” said conductor Daugherty with a big smile. “The same thing happened in the 1950s and it will happen forever.” 

He adds that most older people saw Bugs and Looney Tunes cartoons in a movie theater and kids on a small screen television set. “The chance to see the cartoons in a movie’ like setting, the Philharmonic concert hall, repeats that old feeling for adults and is all new for kids,” he said.

Daugherty and Wong started the production in 1990 and called it Bugs Bunny on Broadway. Since then the show, also called Bugs Bunny at the Symphony and Bugs Bunny at the Symphony II has been staged by more than 100 major orchestras, including the Boston Pops, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Philadelphia Orchestra. It has been shown at the Hollywood Bowl and Sydney Opera House. 

In 1990, of course. Bugs was a huge Hollywood star. He began his career as a character in the Merrie Melodies cartoon series, making his star debut in Wild Hare in 1940. He was an instant hit, along with dopey Elmer Fudd, wily Daffy Duck and others. His popularity soared during World War II, when millions flocked to movies and the cartoons, which served as an escape from wartime pressures. Bugs Bunny was turned into a flag waving patriotic character during the war, even appearing in a dress blue U.S. Marine uniform in one cartoon. His popularity grew after the war and he remained the number one cartoon character in America for years, chomping on carrots in movie theater all across the country.

The really big advantages of the Philharmonic Hall, Daugherty said, was the sound of the orchestra in the concert hall.

“Back in the 1940s and ‘50s, when these cartoons first came out, the sound equipment in places where the cartoons were made, and in movie theaters, was limited. At the Philharmonic at Lincoln Center, and other halls where we stage the concerts, the sound is beautiful. That’s why people go to these shows,” said Daugherty.

He is always amazed at the people he meets at his productions. “I meet very old and very young people and music lovers, and cartoon overs, from every walk of life,” he said. He once met a couple who met at a Bugs Bunny concert eight years earlier, fell in love and were married.

People are getting used to these type of movie/performance shows. The Philharmonic has staged a number of them. Among them were Fantasia andStar Wars. The Philharmonic will stage a movie/concert of Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Psycho in September, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in December, and Singin’ in the Rain and Mary Poppins in May, 2020.The idea of a movie and a live orchestra is gaining ground in America – fast.

Surprisingly, the audience for the Bugs Bunny productions are neither kids or parents and kids – but individual adults. “I’d say 90% of our audience are adults without kids,” said Daugherty. “They are all coming back to see the cartoons they loved as children.”

And Bugs? The founder of the Warner Bros.’ Looney Tunes production show thinks that the hyperactive gray and white rabbit, getting on a little over the years, would love it.

When I ended my interview with the conductor, I was tempted to assume my very best Bugs Bunny voice and ask him “What’s up, Doc?” I could not do that, though, because the New York Philharmonic is so distinguished…

Really? Wait until this weekend, when Bugs fans pour into the Geffen concert hall at Lincoln Center and roar for Bugs and his cartoon pals who starred with him in all those wonderful old Looney Tunes and Merrie Melody cartoon production houses. The roar will be louder than the traffic in Times Square.

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Dossier: Cultura, Memoria y Sociedad en los Estados Unidos
Para ser publicado en la Revista Huellas de Estados Unidos en su próximo número (N° 17, Octubre 2019) http://www.huellasdeeua.com/index.html
Coordinadores: Mariana Piccinelli (UBA) y Leandro Della Mora (UBA)
La revista Huellas de Estados Unidos llama a convocatoria de artículos para su Dossier Cultura, Memoria y Sociedad en los Estados Unidos.Se recibirán artículos hasta el día 15 de abril de 2019 (15/04/2019).Los mismos deberán cumplir estrictamente con las normas de publicación definidas en http://www.huellasdeeua.com/normas/index.html. Mails de recepción: dossierhuellaseua@hotmail.comredacción@huellasdeeua.com.

Dossier: Cultura, Memoria y Sociedad en los Estados Unidos

El crecimiento exponencial de los medios audiovisuales y la amplia difusión que poseen nos invitan a reflexionar sobre la cantidad de imágenes que se producen en nuestra sociedad. El audiovisual viene a sumar y multiplicar una gran cantidad de producciones culturales que nos interpelan y estimulan a analizarlas en función no sólo de la producción en sí, sino en base a las sociedades que representan. La fotografía, el arte visual y audiovisual, y la literatura nos ofrecen imágenes, lecturas que una sociedad hace de sí misma.Teniendo esto en cuenta damos la bienvenida a ensayos originales para un dossier que se centrará en las distintas representaciones e imágenes que durante el siglo XX y el XXI se han producido sobre la sociedad estadounidense. ¿Como se representa la sociedad estadounidense? ¿Cómo interactúan entre sí los elementos culturales y la memoria en función de la representación del pasado? ¿Cuál es la importancia de los mismos en la construcción de la memoria y la historia? Estas son algunas preguntas que guían la convocatoria del presente Dossier.Sobre la revista“Huellas de los Estados Unidos. Estudios, Perspectivas y Debates desde América Latina” es una revista electrónica semestral que busca ocupar un espacio académico poco transitado en la Argentina: el estudio de los Estados Unidos y su relación con América Latina desde una perspectiva crítica. Somos un grupo de especialistas que nos dedicamos a ello, nucleadas alrededor de la Cátedra de Historia de Estados Unidos, y la Cátedra de Literatura Norteamericana, en las Carreras de Historia y de Letras de la Facultad de Filosofía y Letras de la Universidad de Buenos Aires.Además, como siempre, se recibirán artículos sobre temáticas económicas, políticas, sociales y culturales, por fuera del dossier, para ser considerados por nuestra redacción. A tal efecto, el material de publicación se recibirá en redaccion@huellasdeeua.com.

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Throughline es un nuevo podcast de la  National Public Radio (NPR) cuyo contenido podría ser de interés para los lectores de esta bitácora. Conducido por Ramtin Arablouei y Rund Abdelfatah, Throughline está dedicado a un análisis histórico que busca rescatar los temas que no se incluyen en los libros de textos, o en los discursos oficiales o dominantes.  A sus creadores les interesa dar contexto histórico a las noticias y discusiones públicas.

En el aire desde el 7 de febrero de este año, Throughline contiene sólo cinco episodios. El primero de ellos titulado How The CIA Overthrew Iran’s Democracy In 4 Days, analiza   el papel que jugó la CIA en el derrocamiento del Primer ministro Iraní Mohammad Mossadegh en 1953. El segundo episodio –On The Shoulders Of Giants–  analiza la historia de las protestas de los deportistas afroamericanos contra el racismo y la violencia racial. El tercer episodio (The Forgotten War) analiza el significado de la guerra de Corea en las relaciones de Estados Unidos con el régimen norcoreano. El cuarto episodio titulado High Crimes And Misdemeanors, examina el primer juicio de residenciamiento a un presidente estadounidense. El quinto y hasta ahora último episodio (American Shadows) enfoca de forma magistral el papel que las teorías de conspiraciones han jugado en la historia estadounidense desde el periodo colonial.

Todos aquellos interesados en la historia estadounidense – y la lucha contra las fake news y la manipulación de la historia- encontrarán útil e interesante este podcast.

Norberto Barreto Velazquez

Lima, Perú

 

 

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imagesPaco Ignacio Taibo II es un prolifero escritor mexicano que combina muy bien la ficción (especialmente, la novela negra) y la narrativa histórica. Creador del genial investigador Belascoarán Shayne, Taibo II es autor  de un número impresionante de libros donde aborda temas de historia mexicana y latinoamericana en general. Destacan dos obras biográficas monumentales: Ernesto Guevara, también conocido como el Che (1996) y  Pancho Villa: una biografía narrativa (2006), donde enfoca dos figuras claves de la historia latinoamericana del siglo XX. Con una fuerte tendencia antisistema, no debe sorprender que Taibo II haya dedicado tiempo al rescate y análisis del movimiento anarco sindicalismo español con obras como Asturias 1934 (1980), Arcángeles: doce historias de revolucionarios herejes del siglo XX (1998) y Que sean fuego las estrellas (2015).

Me acabo de leer una de sus obras de narrativa histórica: El Álamo: una historia no apta para

Taibo

Paco Ignacio Taibo II

Hollywood ( 2011) y comparto aquí mis impresiones con mis lectores. En este corto y muy bien escrito libro, Taibo II desarrolla un efectivo trabajo  de desmitificación de la batalla del Álamo. Este enfrentamiento entre fuerzas rebeldes texanas y efectivos del ejército mexicano fue uno de los principales episodios de la llamada revolución texana de 1836. Como bien documenta Taibo II, la  derrota de los rebeldes en el Álamo se convirtió en uno de los principales mitos fundacionales estadounidenses. A los que murieron en el Álamo se les convirtió en símbolos del excepcionalismo estadounidense; en “mártires” de la libertad y la democracia. Taibo deja claro que uno de los elementos claves de la rebelión texana era la defensa de la esclavitud, no de la democracia. La especulación de tierras también jugó una papel importante en la rebelión texana. El autor baja del Olimpo al que han sido ensalzados, especialmente por Hollywood y Disney, los principales personajes estadounidenses de la batalla del Álamo: William Barret Travis, Dadid Crockett y James Bowie. Los presenta tal como lo que eran: aventureros, esclavistas, malos padres, borrachos, mentirosos, etc. Taibo  II no es menos duro con sus compatriotas, describiendo la  falta de visión y de liderato que reinó entre las tropas mexicanas, especialmente, las deficiencias de su máximo líder el General Antonio López de Santa Anna.

Aquellos interesados en la rebelión texana y en especial de la batalla del Álamo, encontrarán en este libro una visión crítica y profundamente desmitificadora de tales eventos. Quienes estén interesados en investigar estos temas, encontrarán una impresionante bibliografía que incluye fuentes tanto estadounidenses como mexicanas.

Norberto Barreto Velázquez

Lima, 13 de abril de 2018

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Princeton University ha publicado un libro cuya lectura parece obligatoria: American Empire A Global History. Escrito por el historiador británico A. G. Hopkins, este libro interpreta la evolución del imperio estadounidense desde una perspectiva global. Hopkins cuestiona la idea del excepcionalismo al examinar  la historia estadounidense desde una óptica internacional. Comparto con mis lectores esta “introducción” a su obra escrita por Hopkins y que fuera publicada en la bitácora Not Even Past.

The American “Empire” Reconsidered

by A. G. Hopkins

Whether commentators assert that the United States is resurgent or in decline, it is evident that the dominant mood today is one of considerable uncertainty about the standing and role of the “indispensable nation” in the world. The triumphalism of the 1990s has long faded; geopolitical strategy, lacking coherence and purpose, is in a state of flux. Not Even Past, or perhaps Not Ever Past, because the continuously unfolding present prompts a re-examination of approaches to history that fail to respond to the needs of the moment, as inevitably they all do.

This as good a moment as any to consider how we got “from there to here” by stepping back from the present and taking a long view of the evolution of U.S. international relations. The first reaction to this prospect might be to say that it has already been done – many times. Fortunately (or not), the evidence suggests otherwise. The subject has been studied in an episodic fashion that has been largely devoid of continuity between 1783 and 1914, and becomes systematic and substantial only after 1941.
There are several ways of approaching this task. The one I have chosen places the United States in an evolving Western imperial system from the time of colonial rule to the present. To set this purpose in motion, I have identified three phases of globalisation and given empires a starring role in the process. The argument holds that the transition from one phase to another generated the three crises that form the turning points the book identifies. Each crisis was driven by a dialectic, whereby successful expansion generated forces that overthrew or transformed one phase and created its successor.

The first phase, proto-globalisation, was one of mercantilist expansion propelled by Europe’s leading military-fiscal states. Colonising the New World stretched the resources of the colonial powers, produced a European-wide fiscal crisis at the close of the eighteenth century, and gave colonists in the British, French, and Spanish empires the ability, and eventually the desire, to claim independence. At this point, studies of colonial history give way to specialists on the new republic, who focus mainly on internal considerations of state-building and the ensuing struggle for liberty and democracy. Historians of empire look at the transition from colonial rule rather differently by focussing on the distinction between formal and effective independence. The U.S. became formally independent in 1783, but remained exposed to Britain’s informal political, economic and cultural influences. The competition between different visions of an independent polity that followed mirrored the debate between conservatives and reformers in Europe after 1789, and ended, as it did in much of Europe, in civil war.

The second phase, modern globalisation, which began around the mid-nineteenth century, was characterised by nation-building and industrialisation. Agrarian elites lost their authority; power shifted to urban centres; dynasties wavered or crumbled. The United States entered this phase after the Civil War at the same time as new and renovated states in Europe did. The renewed state developed industries, towns, and an urban labor force, and experienced the same stresses of unemployment, social instability, and militant protest in the 1880s and 1890s as Britain, France, Germany and other developing industrial nation-states. At the close of the century, too, the U.S. joined other European states in contributing to imperialism, which can be seen as the compulsory globalisation of the world. The war with Spain in 1898 not only delivered a ready-made insular empire, but also marked the achievement of effective independence. By 1900, Britain’s influence had receded. The United States could now pull the lion’s tail; its manufactures swamped the British market; its culture had shed its long-standing deference. After 1898, too, Washington picked up the white man’s burden and entered on a period of colonial rule that is one of the most neglected features of the study of U.S. history.

The third phase, post-colonial globalisation, manifested itself after World War II in the process of decolonisation. The world economy departed from the classical colonial model; advocacy of human rights eroded the moral basis of colonial rule; international organisations provided a platform for colonial nationalism. The United States decolonised its insular empire between 1946 and 1959 at the same time as the European powers brought their own empires to a close. Thereafter, the U.S. struggled to manage a world that rejected techniques of dominance that had become either unworkable or inapplicable. The status of the United States was not that of an empire, unless the term is applied with excessive generality, but that of an aspiring hegemon. Yet, Captain America continues to defend ‘freedom’ as if the techniques of the imperial era remained appropriate to conditions pertaining in the twenty-first century.

This interpretation inverts the idea of “exceptionalism” by showing that the U.S. was fully part of the great international developments of the last three centuries. At the same time, it identifies examples of distinctiveness that have been neglected: the U.S. was the first major decolonising state to make independence effective; the only colonial power to acquire most of its territorial empire from another imperial state; the only one to face a significant problem of internal decolonisation after 1945. The discussion of colonial rule between 1898 and 1959 puts a discarded subject on the agenda of research; the claim that the U.S. was not an empire after that point departs from conventional wisdom.

The book is aimed at U.S. historians who are unfamiliar with the history of Western empires, at historians of European empires who abandon the study the U.S. between 1783 and 1941, and at policy-makers who appeal to the ‘lessons of history’ to shape the strategy of the future.

A.G. Hopkins, American Empire: A Global History


 

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La revista Huellas de Estados Unidos acaba de publicar su décimo tercer número con una selección de interesantes artículos enfocados, principalmente, a analizar el origen y significados del fenómeno Trump. Destaca el tema racial con trabajos de Valeria L. Carbonne (“Charlottesville: Historia de racismo y supremacía blanca“), Pablo Pozzi (“El Ku Klux Klan y el capitalismo” y  Ana Bochicchio (“¿Qué piensan los supremacistas blancos norteamericanos?”). Se incluye, además, la traducción de un capítulo del clásico libro de Michael Hunt Ideology and U.S. Foreign Policy (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987). Agradecemos, nuevamente, a los editores de Huellas de Estados Unidos por su gran labor promoviendo el estudio de Estados Unidos en América Latina.

 

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JFK at Rice University in September 1962. Image via Wiki Commons.

Rethinking the JFK Legacy

Steven M. Gillo

huffingtonpost.com October 27, 2013

As we approach the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination we are reminded of his enduring hold on the popular imagination. Once again countless magazine articles, newspaper stories, books, and television stories will focus on the man, his presidency, and his death. Politicians from both parties continue to invoke his name to sell themselves and their policies. Polls show that Kennedy is America’s favorite president, ranking above Washington, Lincoln, and Roosevelt.

Public adulation of Kennedy baffles many historians who have spent the past twenty years assaulting the foundation of Camelot. The public sees him as a bold and gallant leader who inspired the young, helped the disadvantaged, pushed for civil rights, stood down the Russians, and added glamor and style to the White House.

In recent years, however, many historians have focused attention on Kennedy’s shortcomings: the obsession with Fidel Castro, his reluctant support of civil rights, and the escalation in Vietnam. They have also probed beneath the glossy Kennedy charm and discovered a man who was dependent on prescription medication and who possessed an insatiable sexual appetite. Kennedy, a recent critic charged, was “deficient in integrity, compassion, and temperance.” That is a harsh judgment, and certainly not one shared by most historians. Most would agree, however, that his short time in office prevented JFK from leaving a lasting legacy of accomplishment.

Why the wide gap between the way historians view Kennedy and how the public perceives him? Part of the problem is that historians have difficulty appreciating Kennedy’s emotional impact on the public. Kennedy was the first president to use television to bypass the Washington opinion-makers and communicate directly with the American public. Television made obsolete traditional models which used legislative accomplishments to determine influence.

Because of the intimate relationship Kennedy established with the American public many people felt a sense of personal loss at his death. The assassination affected America unlike any other single event in modern history — with the possible exception of 9/11. No American born prior to 1960 can forget where he or she was the moment they heard the news of the President’s death. Seventy-five hours of television coverage helped create a shared sense of national grief. Four of five Americans felt “the loss of someone very close and dear,” and more than half cried.

Inevitably, in the years that followed Americans have searched to give his death some meaning. Our refusal to accept that Kennedy’s death could have been the result of a random, inexplicable act of violence has led us to search for more satisfying explanations. We refuse to accept that a loser like Lee Harvey Oswald could single-handedly kill a man as great as JFK. That search for meaning has lead to the creation of a mythical, heroic Kennedy. The thread that runs through most conspiracy theories, and permeates the popular view of JFK, is that nefarious individuals conspired to kill the President because he offered a new direction for the country.

But the Kennedy mystique is based on more than his photogenic qualities and his tragic death. In trying to understand Kennedy’s appeal I am reminded of what our first professional biographer, James Parton, wrote about Thomas Jefferson. “If Jefferson was wrong,” he wrote, “America is wrong. If Jefferson was right. America is right.”

Since the Puritans came to America searching for deliverance from the corruption of the Old World, Americans have believed in national destiny. Thomas Jefferson declared the new nation “the last best hope of mankind.” Herman Melville compared Americans to the biblical tribes of Israel, calling them “the peculiar chosen people… the Israel of our time.” At the heart of this belief was a faith that the future would always be better than the past. America stood as the exception to the historical rules which dictated that great civilizations eventually peaked and crumbled. Devoid of the class conflict, racial tensions, and the imperial designs that characterized other civilizations, America would move inevitably toward realizing its divinely inspired mission to be “as a city upon a hill.”

More than any president since FDR, Kennedy embodied these ideals of American greatness. Kennedy, like the nation he led, seemed larger than life. Every dimension of the New Frontier projected an image of strength and vitality: the inspirational rhetoric of sacrifice and idealism; the aristocratic elegance and democratic demeanor; the brilliant but compassionate advisers. Robert Frost captured the mood of the nation when he predicted that the Kennedy years would be an “Augustan age of poetry and power.”

The tragic series of events that followed Kennedy’s death challenged our faith in national destiny. A lost war in Vietnam and a crippling oil embargo reminded us that we could not shape the world in our own image. At home, racial violence, student protests, and government corruption revealed that America remained a deeply divided nation. During our time of trouble we turned to a heroic Kennedy for comfort. He reminded us of a time when America stood strong in the world, our nation felt united, and life seemed simpler. As the American dream slips further from the grasp of most people, as our faith in government and our hope for the future diminishes, we cling more tenaciously than ever to a mythic view of Kennedy.

We have transformed Kennedy into a metaphor of American greatness and judged all of his successors by that standard. Not surprisingly, they look dull by comparison. Politicians, eager to win the hearts of American voters, have tried to mimic Kennedy’s style and to steal his message. Republicans have invoked Kennedy’s memory to sell programs — supply-side economics, for example — that were antithetical to JFK’s own policies. President Obama flexed his political and legislative muscle to push through legislation that was far more ambitious than anything JFK could have imagined, yet even he, and his accomplishments, appear diminished by the comparison to a mythical Kennedy.

Over the years, the public, which has grown cynical and angry over raised expectations and diminished results, has moved to the sidelines of American politics waiting for the “next JFK.” Powerful, well-organized and well-funded, interest groups have moved to fill the void.

It is ironic that the memory of JFK would weaken political institutions. Kennedy won the presidency in 1960 by advocating change and, at least on a rhetorical level, he challenged us to confront old ideas. “For the great enemy of truth,” he said in a famous Yale commencement address in 1963, “is very often not the lie — deliberate, contrived, and dishonest — but the myth — persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic.”

Ultimately, our fascination with Kennedy tells us more about ourselves, our deeply rooted beliefs and our need for heroes, then it does shed light on the man or his times. Kennedy was a very mortal man, very much a product of his times. In life he offered few solutions to the pressing issues of his time. His memory, burdened by the weight of myth, limits our ability to find answers to the problems of our own time.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steven-m-gillon/rethinking-the-jfk-legacy_b_4167729.html

Steven M Gillon is Scholar-in-Residence at History and Professor of History at the University of Oklahoma

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Huellas2

Acaba de salir el úlimo número de la revista Huellas de Estados Unidos de la Cátedra de Historia de Estados Unidos de la UBA. Componen este número un interesante grupo de trabajos sobre aspectos ideológicos de política exterior estadounidense y sobre el tema del consenso político. Completan este número un par de valiosos documentos sobre el racismo. Todos los ensayos y reseñas están disponibles en PDF.

Comparto aquí el índice de este número.
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Opinionator - A Gathering of Opinion From Around the Web

Maximilian in Mexico

By PHIL LEIGH
 
New York Times, October 4, 2013

On Oct. 3, 1863, a Mexican delegation arrived in the Austrian port city of Trieste to officially offer Mexico’s imperial crown to the 31-year-old Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian, a scion of the Austrian branch of the Hapsburg royal family and the brother of the Austrian emperor, Franz Josef I.

For 300 years the family’s Spanish branch and its successors had, by virtue of its seat in Madrid, ruled over colonial Mexico and much of the Western Hemisphere. After Mexico won independence in 1821, it fell into a constant state of near anarchy; There were 75 government successions by the time the American Civil War started. Conservative Mexicans and wealthy ex-patriots longed for the stability that a European monarchy might provide, and some of them recalled wistfully the steady hand of the Hapsburgs.

Maximilian was interested for two reasons. The liberal-minded archduke felt he could improve Mexico. Perhaps more important, there was nothing for him at home: his brother was just two years older, and was looking forward to a long reign (in fact, he ruled until his death during World War I).

Still, Maximilian would never have ascended the Mexican throne were it not for yet another emperor, Napoleon III of France. Since Napoleon III’s famous uncle sold Louisiana to the United States in 1803, France had no major stake in the Western Hemisphere. With the advent of America’s Civil War, the French monarch sensed an opportunity to change that, with Maximilian as his puppet.

In early 1862, as America convulsed through the first year of its Civil War, France began placing troops in Mexico to collect customs duties on goods, in order to force the country to make payments on a defaulted debt to several European countries. But the Mexican government was too poor to concurrently make the payments and at the same time support the army of President Benito Juárez. Initially, soldiers from Spain and Britain joined the French, but were withdrawn once they realized Napoleon was scheming to establish a puppet monarchy. As a result, Maximilian would have no power without the presence of the 40,000-man French Army.

Napoleon had hoped to get Maximilian installed a year or so earlier, but he did not capture Mexico City until June 1863. Additionally, the archduke’s October ’63 acceptance of the crown was conditioned on “a vote of the whole country,” which was quickly achieved by gathering signatures under the glitter of French bayonets.

Still, Napoleon knew how drawn out the war was becoming and reasoned that President Abraham Lincoln would be too focused on suppressing the Confederacy to oppose him. The Monroe Doctrine would be temporarily impotent, while the future offered possibilities to render it permanently ineffective.

Although Juárez was forced out of Mexico City, he remained in the country opposing Maximilian during the entire American Civil War. Juárez quickly sided with Lincoln. Early in the war he granted the United States the right to land troops on Mexico’s west coast, where they could march rapidly into Arizona territory if needed to confront a possible Confederate drive westward. On doubtful authority the first Confederate minister to Mexico, John Pickett, countered by offering to support Mexico in the reoccupation of territories lost in the Mexican War, including the present states of California, Arizona, and New Mexico, if Juarez would cancel his deal with Lincoln.

Although Juárez declined, Washington realized that the Confederates could make a similar offer to Maximilian, turning the Mexican crisis into a proxy war. As one visitor to the archduke’s castle in Trieste wrote the Confederate minister in Paris,

Maximilian expressed the warmest possible interest in the Confederate cause. He said he considered it identical with that of the new Mexican Empire … that he was particularly desirous that his sentiments upon this subject should be known to the Confederate President.

The presence of a monarchy supported by a French army south of the border alarmed Washington and the far western states. In January 1864 Senator James McDougall of California proposed a Congressional resolution stating that French intervention in Mexico was “an act unfriendly to the republic of the United States.” It called upon the French to withdraw by March 15, and threatened war if they didn’t. But Lincoln wanted only one war at a time and had the motion sidetracked.

Nonetheless, three months later the House of Representatives unanimously approved a resolution that stated:

The Congress of the United States are unwilling … to leave … the impression that they are indifferent … [to] the deplorable events … in Mexico and … declare that it does not … acknowledge any monarchial government … in America under the auspices of any European power.

Although the Union’s concerns had validity, France wanted to avoid open warfare. In a Paris meeting before departing for Mexico, Napoleon, hopeful of territorial gains whichever side was victorious, convinced Maximilian to avoid endorsing the Confederacy until it won independence. As early as January 1863 the French consuls in Galveston and Richmond had been urging Texans to secede from the Confederacy..

After hearing about the French agitation in Texas, the Confederate Secretary of State, Judah Benjamin, instructed his Belgium minister to investigate. The man replied, “Mexico as she was previous to her dismemberment is the … cherished end at which [Napoleon III] aims.” Lincoln’s government captured Benjamin’s letter and asked its Brussels representative for his opinion. He confirmed that Napoleon III wanted Mexico to restore the borders applicable before the Mexican War. In short, he wanted Mexico to reclaim not only the Mexican Cession, but also Texas. Indeed, owing to its French traditions, Napoleon III believed that he might even be able to recover Louisiana. If all went as he hoped, France would once again have a major stake in the New World and the Monroe Doctrine would be meaningless.

The Confederacy reacted by expelling the offending diplomats, but Lincoln changed military priorities. After the fall of Vicksburg, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant wanted to lead an army reinforced by Gen. Nathaniel Banks against Mobile, Ala. A glance at a map confirms the obvious logic of the movement. Lincoln would not permit the advance, writing Grant, “in view of recent events in Mexico, I am greatly impressed with the importance of reestablishing the national authority in Western Texas as soon as possible.”

After a modest move against Brownsville and the Texas coast in November 1863, General in Chief Henry Halleck and cotton speculators urged a modification to the Union’s plans in the coastal Southwest that resulted in General Banks’s disastrous Red River Campaign in the spring of 1864. The goal was to capture the rebel stronghold at Shreveport, La., and then occupy the cotton fields of east Texas, while incidentally seizing up to 300,000 cotton bales (worth about $2 billion in today’s dollars) along the way. Unfortunately, even though Union forces outnumbered the rebels by more than two-to-one the Confederates turned back the federal offensive. Banks returned to New Orleans with fewer than 5,000 cotton bales, and the drive into Texas was halted.

Fortunately for the Union, the French and Maximilian were having a much harder time stabilizing their hold on Mexico than they had expected. After the end of the war, in an effort to help Juárez, Grant sent Gen. Philip Sheridan to the Rio Grande with an army of 50,000 men. Since Secretary of State William H. Seward did not want a war with Mexico or the French, he persuaded President Andrew Johnson to issue a ban on exports of weapons and ammunition. But Grant secretly ordered Sheridan to supply Juárez with matériel and weapons, including about 30,000 rifles.

Soon thereafter, Napoleon III announced a staged withdrawal of French troops, which left Maximilian nearly defenseless within two years. Juárez regained power in 1867, and promptly executed the naïve archduke.

 

Sources: “James J. Horgan, ““A Confederate Bull in a Mexican China Shop,” from “Divided We Fall: Essays on Confederate Nation Building,” John M. Belohlave, ed.; Henry Martyn Flint, “Mexico Under Maximilian”; Gene Smith, “Maximilian and Carlota”; Donald Miles, “Cinco de Mayo”; Robert Kerby, “Kirby Smith’s Confederacy”; Dean Mahin, “One War at a Time”; Frank Owlsey, “King Cotton Diplomacy”; Ludwell Johnson, “Red River Campaign”; G. J. Meyer, “A World Undone.”

disunion-phil-leigh-thumbStandardPhil Leigh is an independent Civil War historian and author. He is writing a book about wartime intersectional trade between North and South, “Trading With the Enemy.”

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