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Inicio Investigaciones de Historia Económica - Economic History Research Ellen D. Tillman. Dollar Diplomacy by Force: Nation-Building and Resistance in t...
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Vol. 15. Núm. 1.
Páginas 66-67 (Febrero 2019)
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Vol. 15. Núm. 1.
Páginas 66-67 (Febrero 2019)
Book Review
DOI: 10.1016/j.ihe.2018.02.011
Acceso a texto completo
Ellen D. Tillman. Dollar Diplomacy by Force: Nation-Building and Resistance in the Dominican Republic, Chapel Hill, The University of North Carolina Press, 2016. Kindle Edition. pp. 1, 6547.
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Johnny D. Fulfer
University of South Florida, United States
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William Howard Taft coined the phrase, “dollars for bullets,” to describe an approach to foreign policy that came to be known as dollar diplomacy. Military historian Ellen D. Tillman explores this diplomatic experiment in her latest work, Dollar Diplomacy by Force: Nation-Building and Resistance in the Dominican Republic. Tillman argues that U.S. intervention reinforced political instability in the Dominican Republic rather than improve the political environment of this country. Political interference in the Caribbean reinforced preconceptions of American imperialism that began with the annexation of the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Guam following of the Spanish-American War in 1898.

The actual diplomatic negotiations in the Dominican Republic were carried out by U.S. military officers, Tillman explains, who held preconceived ideas of American exceptionalism and viewed their role in the Dominican Republic as a “military mission, especially in the context of broader security interests surrounding the Panama Canal.”1 Tillman argues that economic intervention, which ultimately led to full scale military intervention, altered the social order in Dominican society.

To establish a foundation for political stability in the Dominican Republic, the US. Navy created a military force called the “constabulary,” a military experiment viewed by the Dominican people as a group of low class traitors. Naval officers who created this military force were not concerned with Dominican history or culture, often making generalization about the type of political structure necessary to provide stability in the region. The export of American institutions to the Dominican Republic through the constabulary “existed only in theory,” Tillman argues.2

When the U.S. entered the First World War in Europe, it severely constrained its resources available to the constabulary, in effect reducing its ability to be an effective military force. While the U.S. military measured their success by the accomplishments of the constabulary, there was a growing movement in Dominican society to remove American political and economic influence from their country.

The Dominican Republic may have been better off as a more regionally structured government, Tillman argues, rather than a strong centralized government modeled after the U.S., which was incompatible with Dominican history and culture. In the end, dollar diplomacy was an unsuccessful attempt by U.S. leaders to stabilize an unstable country. This failure led to further military intervention that proved ineffective in providing stability to the Dominican Republic and intensified the insecurity in the region. Tillman provides a thorough discussion of the military complications in the region, although, further discussion of the meaning and nature of dollar diplomacy would complement Tillman's work.

While Tillman's primary focus is no military history, her book provides a unique perspective that combines military and economic history in the Caribbean, a region that has been the central focus of Emily Rosenberg's Financial Missionaries to the World: The Culture and Politics of Dollar Diplomacy, 1900–1930 and Cyrus Veeser's work A World Safe for Capitalism: Dollar Diplomacy and America's Rise to Global Power. The latter authors focus primarily on economic and power relations of dollar diplomacy, while Tillman contributes to the literature by emphasizing the lasting impacts that the U.S. military had in the region. Tillman identifies the complexities of military intervention in the Dominican Republic, which escalated instability in the region and ultimately led to the rise of dictator Rafael Trujillo.

Ellen D. Tillman, Dollar Diplomacy by Force: Nation-Building and Resistance in the Dominican Republic. (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2016), Kindle Edition, 1071–1073.

Ibid., 1651.

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