Augusto Pinochet was an avid global traveller throughout the 1990s. A potent symbol of Cold War anti-Soviet authoritarianism and market radicalism, the former military ruler of Chile usually made a great stir during his trips across Latin America, East Asia, Southern Africa, continental Europe, and to the United Kingdom. In a recent article in Global Society, I assess the public reactions, political debates, and legal consequences that Pinochet’s appearances caused. Scholars of Pinochet’s international perception have for the most part focussed on his criminal reputation among human rights activists and the victims of military rule in Chile. Yet, many pro-market reformers and anti-Communists in countries transitioning from socialism to capitalism did not see Pinochet as a criminal dictator of the Cold War. Margaret Thatcher also had a soft spot for him. For them, his economically successful ‘Chilean model’ had become a source of legitimacy for an authoritarian path of modernisation. Continue reading “How Pinochet turned Chile into a globally admired model of authoritarian capitalism”→
Thomas Zeiler is Professor of Diplomatic History at the University of Colorado Boulder. He has authored numerous books on U.S. diplomacy and globalization, including American Trade and Power (1992), Free Trade, Free World: The Advent of GATT (1999), Dean Rusk (2000), Globalization and the American Century (2003), and Unconditional Defeat: Japan, America, and the End of World War II (2004).
In the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump made trade great again. That is, they reminded us that international trade policy, and particularly the American foreign commercial agenda, is as relevant today as it was in the nineteenth century, the last half of which is the era of focus for historian Marc-William Palen. The timing is striking. China has replaced European nations as competitors, and monetary manipulation and dumping rather than tariffs are the bete noires today. Yet contemporary protectionists are a throwback to expressions of economic nationalism last heard by a majority of politicians in the decades following the American Civil War. Protectionism guided American trade policies until the Great Depression, when freer (though still cautious) commercial relations traded places with the nationalism that had shaped the United States for its first century and a half.
The “Conspiracy” of Free Trade (the conspiracy a claim by American protectionists based in the Republican Party that British free traders were secretly trying to hinder U.S. prosperity at home and expansion abroad) is a corrective to decades of historiography that laissez-faire doctrine guided the Gilded Age. On the contrary, Palen’s sophisticated look into Anglo-American dialogue and domestic political maneuverings show that “ideological conflict between free traders and economic nationalists laid the imperial path for Anglo-American economic globalization” (xvi). His archival research is solid, though far surpassed by the extensive treatment of periodical and secondary sources; Palen has mined seemingly every commentary on the half century he covers. The author also lays out a simple binary of ideological visions – Cobdenite cosmopolitanism (the free traders) and a Listian nationalism (the protectionists) – that effectively expands the grand debate over the tariff into an even grander one over imperialism (and, in today’s terms, globalization). Continue reading “Zeiler on Palen, The “Conspiracy” of Free Trade”→