Architects of Intervention

The United States, the Third World, and the Cold War, 1946-1962

In telling the story of seven significant US interventions during the key cold war years, this text aims to show the interplay between the American government and third world actors in designing US policy and their respective countries. The author describes US mediation in Greece and Italy and then moves to the core of his argument: interventions in Iran, Guatemala, Lebanon and Cuba.

Those involvements, he explains, arose not only out of decisions made in Washington but also out actions in the cafes of Beirut, in the streets of Havana, in the alleys of Tehran and in the jungles of Guatemala. He considers American intervention in Laos, characterizing it as a harbinger of Vietnam.

"Relying on American archives and a wide range of secondary works, Karabell writes well and does a service by combining case studies on American intervention in Greece, Italy, Iran, Guatemala, Lebanon, Cuba, and Laos. Karabell argues, easily enough, that internal conditions are decisive —  since intervention needs strong local allies to achieve any enduring success. He also cautions that interventions do not have a lasting effect in changing the political or social order of the affected countries."
— Foreign Affairs | read full review >