4 months late, UK’s Telegraph publishes an obituary for Gabriel Kolko

Historians in the News
tags: Gabriel Kolko, obituary



Gabriel Kolko, who has died aged 81, was a Marxist historian whose often persuasive criticisms of American foreign policy tended to be undermined by his blatant partisanship.

Kolko made a name for himself in the 1960s as a revisionist historian, laying the blame for the Cold War on an all-consuming post-war American drive to impose its economic and political order on the world. In books such as The Politics of War (1968), The Limits of Power (written with his wife, Joyce, in 1972) and Confronting the Third World (1988), Kolko presented the United States as the “major inheritor” of the mantle of imperialism in the modern age, pursuing an agenda that prodded “the political destinies of distant places to evolve in a manner beneficial to American... interests” — policies which, in the long run, were detrimental to those interests.

In case studies of United States policies toward such countries as Chile, Brazil, Nicaragua, Cuba, Iran and the Philippines, Kolko argued that America cared little about political democracy and equitable economic development. Rather, it had consistently pushed political stability, frequently supporting brutal repression, if necessary, to keep local radicals under control. It also pursued economic policies that would enable American business to operate as freely as possible — effectively turning developing countries into plantations for an integrated, US-dominated capitalist world economy. That such policies often devastated local networks concerned few in Washington...




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