Soldiering on: the Reagan administration and redemocratisation in Chile, 1983-1986

Morris Morley*, Chris McGillion

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


This article examines the circumstances in which the Reagan administration began to rethink its support of the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile and shift toward advocating a return to democratic civilian rule. It argues this shift was closely related to calculations that US interests might best be served by severing ties with the incumbent regime, but only so long as two vital interrelated issues were resolved to Washington's satisfaction: the nature of the movement likely to inherit political power, and the survival of key institutions of the autocratic Chilean state. To the extent that the incoming government did not portend a challenge to existing constitutional and economic arrangements, and to the extent that the 'old' military - the perceived ultimate guarantor against any kind of radical transformation - was in a position to survive the transition with its power and prerogatives intact, a 'regime change' could be supported, and even actively promoted. These twin concerns shaped and influenced a US commitment to democracy in Chile that was more contingent than principled, reflected in the constraints US policymakers imposed upon themselves in regard to the types of pressures they were prepared to apply to achieve their preferred outcome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalBulletin of Latin American Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2006


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