Raymond Bonner received the 1985 RFK Book Award for Weakness and Deceit: U.S. Policy in El Salvador.
A land and culture poorly understood by analysts, politicians, and voters in the far-off United States. A regime permeated with corruption; a country in the steel grip of a few families that disdained any system which might give a voice to the millions who kept them in comfort: guarding their children, watering their lawns and putting food on their tables. A brutal and remorseless police force and army trained in America, armed with American guns, and fighting a bloody proxy war against anyone who might conceivably be an American foe—whether or not they held a gun.
This was Central America in the 1980s, at a time when El Salvador was the centerpiece of a misguided and ultimately disastrous foreign policy. It resulted in atrocities that took the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and destabilized a region that has not recovered to this day. At a time when the Reagan Administration’s obsession with communism overwhelmed objections to its policies, Ray Bonner took a courageous, unflinching look at just who we were supporting and what the consequences were.
Now supplemented with an epilogue drawing on newly available, once-secret documents that detail the extent of America’s involvement in assassinations, including the infamous murder of three American nuns and a lay missionary in 1980, Weakness and Deceit is a classic, riveting and ultimately tragic account of foreign policy gone terribly wrong.