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The American Crisis: Vietnam, Cuba & the Dominican Republic

- Abstract

In the past six years the United States has resorted to some form of military force in three major crises—in Cuba, in the Dominican Republic, and in Vietnam. They are sufficiently different to make it foolhardy to lump them together. Nevertheless, in one respect, they resemble each other too closely and uncomfortably to be regarded as totally unrelated or dissimilar.

What was there in each of these crises that made necessary the use of military force, if only by proxy, on the part of the United States? If we look at the development of each one, does a pattern emerge and suggest that they have something fundamental in common? And if we can detect a pattern, what does it tell us about where we are heading and what we may find on the way?

The more I have struggled with these questions, the more I have come to believe that there is such a pattern, and that it has brought us to the point of armed force as the key instrument of policy no less than three times in only six years. If I am right, this pattern implies that we have been living with an American crisis, or more exactly an ever more acute and costly crisis in American foreign policy, of which the Cuban, the Dominican, and the Vietnam cases have been three incarnations. If countries so far apart and so different can bring forth essentially the same problem, that problem must be as much in us as in them.

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