Saturday, January 6, 2018
Atrium (Marriott Wardman Park)
Over the past three decades, an interventionist paradigm has emerged among scholars and foreign policy experts in the United States. Military intervention is perceived to be the United States’ moral obligation when it comes to humanitarian crises. This article intends to shift that paradigm by shedding light on the U.S. response to the commonly ignored Argentine Genocide which occurred from 1976 to 1983. This case demonstrates the potency of the United States’ diplomatic tools in reacting to a humanitarian crisis. President Jimmy Carter made human rights in Latin America a central focus of his administration, which led to the creation of a potent diplomatic apparatus capable of diminishing the genocide in Argentina. The Carter Administration’s diplomacy was so effective that Argentine President Raul Alfonsin, the first democratic President after the military dictatorship, expressed his belief that “Jimmy Carter’s human rights policy saved thousands of lives in Argentina.” This case study will explore the complexities of the Argentine Genocide, the response of the Carter administration, and the results using previously classified documents which were released in 2016 by the Obama Administration. I argue that the Carter Administration provides historians with the most effective response to a genocide in the history of U.S. foreign policy. Historians and political scientists can therefore use the Carter Response to inform future decisions and assess the soft power tools that the United States used to diminish the genocide in Argentina. Ultimately, by revisiting the Argentine example, scholars in the United States can begin to shift the “interventionist paradigm”: rather than emphasize military intervention as our primary moral obligation, we can highlight the value of strategic human rights diplomacy.
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