"Nowhere did two understandings of U.S. identity―human rights and anticommunism―come more in conflict with each other than they did in Latin America. To refocus U.S. policy on human rights and democracy required a rethinking of U.S. policy as a whole. It required policy makers to choose between policies designed to defeat communism at any cost and those that remain within the bounds of the rule of law."―from the IntroductionKathryn Sikkink believes that the adoption of human rights policy represents a positive change in the relationship between the United States and Latin America. In Mixed Signals she traces a gradual but remarkable shift in U.S. foreign policy over the last generation. By the 1970s, an unthinking anticommunist stance had tarnished the reputation of the U.S. government throughout Latin America, associating Washington with tyrannical and often brutally murderous regimes. Sikkink recounts the reemergence of human rights as a substantive concern, showing how external pressures from activist groups and the institution of a human rights bureau inside the State Department have combined to remake Washington's agenda, and its image, in Latin America. The current war against terrorism, Sikkink warns, could repeat the mistakes of the past unless we insist that the struggle against terrorism be conducted with respect for human rights and the rule of law.
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"Kathryn Sikkink speaks with equal authority in the scholarly world of international relations theory and in the bare-knuckles domain of human rights enforcement. She delivers an insightful analysis and telling indictment of U.S. human rights policy toward Latin America but ends with a message of hope: that human rights can be protected, if governments take rights seriously and if individuals with ideas persevere."--Harold Hongju Koh, Dean of Yale Law School and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 1998-2001
"The central questions will always be simple: how to elevate the role of human rights in foreign policy and then how to play that role successfully. The answers, alas, will always be complex, but for our generation they are to be found in Kathryn Sikkink's Mixed Signals. A genuine intellectual triumph, impressive in both empirical scope and analytic subtlety, Mixed Signals is a richly nuanced, meticulously crafted chronicle of the effort to incorporate human rights into U.S. policy toward Latin America during the final four decades of the twentieth century. A distinguished political scientist who led an earlier life as a Washington human rights activist, Sikkink writes with the authority of someone who was present at the creation and then adds the conceptual clarity that we have come to associate with her name. The result--Mixed Signals--is the book I will hand to my best students."--Lars Schoultz, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
"Mixed Signals is a very good account of the development of U.S. human rights policy, with a special focus on Latin America. Kathryn Sikkink argues that the centrality of human rights in the United States represents an `identity shift' in the national conception of its interests in the world. She does an excellent job of showing how the creation within the government of a bureaucratic apparatus focused on human rights played a key role in this identity shift."--William LeoGrande, Dean of the School of Public Affairs, American University, and author of Our Own Backyard: The United States in Central America, 1977-1992About the Author:
Kathryn Sikkink is McKnight Presidential Chair in Political Science and Regents Professor of Political Science at the University of Minnesota, and is an affiliated faculty member at the University of Minnesota Law School. Her other books include, as coeditor, Restructuring World Politics: Transnational Social Movements, Networks, and Norms.
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