Prior to World War II, the role of the United States in world affairs was largely limited to Mexico, the Philippines, and the nations of the Caribbean Basin (Cuba, Haiti, and the Central American republics). Then, as now, Americans were not much interested in those places; most, in fact, were probably only vaguely aware of the influence that the United States exercised over them. The term “Third World” had not yet come into existence, replete with its heavy cultural and moral overtones, and apart from Protestant missionary organizations and a small number of American corporations, there were no domestic constituencies for “Latin American” or “Philippine” policy. Occasionally some sensational event—a civil war, a revolution—would push these countries briefly onto the front pages of American newspapers, but most of the time they received...


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