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Principles in PowerLatin America and the Politics of U.S. Human Rights Diplomacy$
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Vanessa Walker

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781501713682

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501713682.001.0001

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The Reagan Reinvention

The Reagan Reinvention

A Cold War Human Rights Vision

(p.205) Chapter 5 The Reagan Reinvention
Principles in Power

Vanessa Walker

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines the dramatic reinvention of U.S. human rights policy during Reagan's first year in office. The Carter administration pursued human rights as a corrective to U.S. interventionist legacies, emphasizing pluralism and eschewing regime change. The Reagan administration, in contrast, aggressively promoted human rights within a reinvigorated but narrow Cold War framework. This construction, championing a limited range of civil and political rights, downplayed the human rights violations of pro-American governments, focusing instead on what it considered the much greater moral flaws and violations of communist regimes. The Cold War framing of human rights under Reagan empowered a pairing of military power and moral values, leading the United States to not only not limit arms sales to governments but also recast military aid as a critical aspect of both hemispheric defense against communism and the advancement of human rights. The chapter studies this policy shift in the Reagan administration's first year in regard to Chile and Argentina.

Keywords:   U.S. human rights policy, Reagan administration, human rights, Cold War, communism, military aid, military power, Latin America, Chile, Argentina

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