The revolution in Central America has not only helped most Americans learn where El Salvador and Nicaragua are situated on the map, but, more importantly, it has placed before them two opposing interpretations of what is actually going on in that part of the world. By the Reagan Administration, the American public is told that the fighting in this region is a result of communist expansionism. The Salvadoran rebels, in concert with the Nicaraguans and the Cubans, are seeking to spread their influence and establish Marxist satellite states. Those who disagree with the Reagan position claim that the outbreak of revolution stems from social and economic inequality. After decades of elite rule maintained through corrupt, repressive and unlawful means, peasants and the urban poor are taking up weapons to bring an end to the injustice.

Although these two approaches to the conflict in Central America both evolve from defensible positions, the American public should be aware that the turmoil in this region can be examined from a third perspective. The revolutions in Nicaragua and El Salvador have also occurred because United States influence is declining in this strategic area; and as a result, our ability to contain the fighting and direct the future development of these countries is diminishing.

Note on the Author

Michael Kryzanek is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Editor of the Bridgewater Review.