Lewis traces the Dirty War's origins back to military interventions in the 1930s and 1940s, and the rise of General Juan Peron's populist regime, which resulted in the polarization of Argentine society. Peron's overthrow by the military in 1955 only heightened social conflict by producing a resistance movement out of which several guerrilla organizations would soon emerge. The ideologies, terrorist tactics, and internal dynamics of those underground groups are examined in detail, as well as their links to other movements in Argentina and abroad. The guerrillas reached the height of their influence when the military withdrew from power in 1973 and turned over the government to Peron's puppet president, Hector Campora. They quickly found themselves in opposition again after Peron returned from exile, and as Peronism dissolved into factions after Peron's death, the military prepared to take power again, inspired by a new National Security Doctrine. The origins of this ideology in U.S. Cold War doctrine and in French revolutionary war doctrine are fully explored because the Argentine military's Dirty War strategy and tactics grew directly out of these ideas. The arrests, the treatment of prisoners, and the mindset of the interrogators are treated in detail. Special attention is given to the anti-guerrilla war in Tucuman's jungles, the strange history of David Graiver (the guerrillas' banker) and the Timerman case. In the concluding section of the book, Lewis describes the intrigues that undermined the military regime, its retreat from power, and the human rights trials that were held under the new democratic government. Those trials eventually were stopped by military revolts. Presidential pardons followed and have left Argentina divided once more. This is an important survey for scholars and students of Latin American politics, contemporary history, and civil-military relations.
PAUL H. LEWIS is Professor of Political Science at Tulane University. An authority on Latin American political history, Professor Lewis has published six earlier books, including Paraguay Under Stroessner, The Crisis of Argentine Capitalism, and Political Parties and Generations in Paraguay's Liberal Era.
In contrast to most theorizing, revolutionary leaders almost invariably come from the privileged, even aristocratic classes. The findings raise the issue of how well these leaders actually represent the peoples for which they claim to speak. They also prompt questions about the democratic nature of guerrilla organizations. If the leaders are so far removed, by social background and education, personal experience and ideological articulation, from their followers, how realistic is it to see the Left as a purveyor of progress? Perhaps it is more correct, say the contributors, to see their claims as manipulative tactics directed to resolving a struggle for power among competing elites.
The selection of topics ranges from the historical development of revolutionary struggles since Che Guevara (Halperin and Ratliff) to the more specific application and motivation behind them (Ybarra-Rojas and Tismaneanu). Chapters deal with the attempt to define a typology of revolutionary leaders (Radu) and their Western supporters (Hollander). Some authors (Payne, Horowitz) combine .these approaches.
Many issues examined in this volume are new, including an analysis of the gap between the internationalist outlook of the leaders and the parochial views of their followers. The violent organizations of the Left in Latin America are shown to be largely the functional result of upper- and middle-class leaders who combine an appeal to the lumpenproletariat at home with support of alienated Westerners to pursue their own elitist agenda.
In the most comprehensive treatment of the subject to date, Hodges examines primary materials never seen by other researchers, including clandestinely published guerrilla documents, and interviews important actors in Argentina's political drama. His wide-ranging scholarship traces the origins of the national security and national salvation doctrines to the Spanish Inquisition, sixteenth-century witch hunts, and nineteenth-century reactions to the modernizing ideologies of liberalism, democracy, socialism, and communism.
Hodges posits that the "dirty war," Military Process, and revolutionary war to which they responded represented the culmination of social tensions that arose in 1930 with the launching of the Military Era by Argentina's first successful twentieth-century coup. He offers the disquieting hypothesis that as long as the "Argentine Question" remains unsettled the military may intervene again, the resistance movement will remain strong, and violence may continue even under a democratic government.