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Once-classified U.S. government documents on the fall of Chilean president Salvador Allende are the grist for research in an honors thesis by Daniel Arnold ’01 of Emmaus, Pa., a graduate of Emmaus High School.

Arnold is studying the papers as he investigates the role of the United States in the military coup that toppled Allende on Sept. 11, 1973. His adviser is Arnold A. Offner, Cornelia F. Hugel Professor of History and head of the history department, who says Arnold is in the early stages of analyzing documents that suggest that the United States had more to do with Allende’s fall than earlier admitted.

“I’m really excited about Daniel’s willingness to undertake this project,” Offner says. “Knowledge of U.S. involvement is murky. So much we did remains hidden. Now the CIA has been forced to release the documents, and I expect Daniel to piece it together like a good detective.”

Arnold says, “I’ve been interested in Henry Kissinger and the foreign policy of the Nixon Administration because it was a major turning point for U.S. foreign policy, the end of the traditional containment policy and the beginning of cooperation with the Soviet Union to prevent nuclear war.” While the Nixon Administration’s policies toward China and the Soviet Union are well-charted, he adds, the controversial topic of Allende “has received little serious scholarly effort, in my opinion.”

The indictment in 1998 by a Spanish court of General Augusto Pinochet, who was put in power by the junta that ousted Allende, has put pressure on the U.S. Government to declassify documents on Chile, Arnold says, and being able to use these original papers makes his project even more interesting. Pinochet was charged with crimes against humanity, including genocide, torture, terrorism, and abduction.

“The policymakers involved have written memoirs. What’s coming out now shows the level of truthfulness, and how different people viewed things,” says Arnold.

Offner’s areas of special interest and expertise include the history of U.S. foreign policy, 20th century international relations, and American political history. He is co-editor of a new book, Victory in Europe, 1945: From World War to Cold War, published this year by the University Press of Kansas. He is also author of The Origins of the Second World War: American Foreign Policy and World Politics, 1917-1941 and American Appeasement: United States Foreign Policy and Germany, 1933-1938. In 1999 he was the recipient of Lafayette’s Marquis Distinguished Teaching Award for distinctive and extraordinary teaching.

Offner says Arnold has benefited from three years of participation in Lafayette’s EXCEL Scholars program, in which students work closely with faculty members with research while earning a stipend. Arnold has assisted Offner with research on President Truman and the Cold War and The Anglo-American rivalry in the Middle East, 1947-1967.

“There are a lot of opportunities for undergraduates at Lafayette to do sophisticated research and bring it to their own projects,” Offner says.

Arnold says, “Lafayette professors give you a lot of personal attention. They are knowledgeable and respected in their fields.”

Arnold is a member of the German Club, the History Club, and the Army Reserves.

Categorized in: Academic News