College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Theses and Dissertations

Graduation Date


Document Type


Department/Program Conferring Degree

International Studies


Chile, Salvador Allende, US Foreign Policy, Nixon Administration, Henry Kissinger


Most studies of US involvement in Chile in the early 1970s center around the debate over the degree of responsibility of the Nixon Administration compared to internal pressures that instigated the 1973 military coup that ousted Salvador Allende. Rather than attempting to assess the degree of US responsibility for the coup, this thesis explores the motivations and contributing factors that first led to the decision to deepen US involvement in Chilean politics via the CIA in the lead up to the 1970 presidential election, to continue to work against the government of Salvador Allende after his election by the Chilean Congress in October 1970, and to support the government of Augusto Pinochet after the coup on September 11, 1973. I examined declassified US Government documents, Kissinger "telecons", speeches, television interviews, memoirs and other primary sources as well as several types of secondary sources, using a variation of the theory-guided process tracing method to construct and interpret the narrative of events between 1970 and 1976. I conclude the study by reflecting on how best to evaluate US actions in Chile in the 1970s and speculating about the potential long tern consequences of the Nixon and Ford Administrations' policy toward Chile.