Mexico Between Hitler and Roosevelt


Mexico Between Hitler and Roosevelt: Mexican Foreign Relations in the Age of Lázaro Cárdenas, 1934-1940
Friedrich E. Schuler
2000, University of New Mexico Press
269 pages

PRAGMATISM was clearly the byword of the approach taken by Mexico’s great reforming president Lázaro Cárdenas to forging a distinctive, and sovereign, foreign policy at a time of international turmoil and the simultaneous domestic consolidation of hitherto fluid state and political institutions. Friedrich Schuler’s groundbreaking study of the period reveals a deft and nuanced style of policymaking under Cárdenas that consistently advanced domestic goals through external relations to the point where ideology – a mainstay of the regime publicly – was rarely an obstacle to the greater national aim of capitalist economic development and the president’s need to see off potent political enemies. The author demonstrates that the Mexican leader was far less doctrinaire in his dealings with the United States, Nazi Germany and Mussolini’s Italy than his ostensibly leftwing credentials would give us to believe. It also reveals how Washington, by now playing great power politics in earnest, was ready to abandon Anglo-Saxon solidarity by turning a blind eye to Mexico’s aggressive expropriation of British oil interests – Cárdenas’s crowning moment – in an effort to retain, or enhance, its influence over the administration in Los Pinos. Proof if ever we needed it that, as Kissinger once said, America does not have friends, it has interests. For this reason, this book will be a valuable source of reference to policymakers and historians today by exploring a policy approach suited to a deteriorating international climate and the threat – if not the reality – of depression. – GO’T