William Ratliff


William Ratliff was a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and the Independent Institute. His BA is from Oberlin College; his PhD in Chinese/Latin American histories is from the University of Washington. He passed away April 11, 2014.

He wrote and lectured on the history and politics of Asia and Latin America and how traditional cultures and institutions influence modern conditions and prospects for political and economic development. He also wrote on Chinese relations with Latin America and on US foreign policy.

Ratliff’s studies include "Development with Chinese Characteristics: Asia’s Sinic Revolutions in Global Historical Perspective," in P. Caringella, ed., Revolutions: Finished and Unfinished (2012), chapters for B. Creutzfeldt, ed., China en América Latina (2012) and M. Nilsson, ed., Latin American Responses to Globalization (2012). He also wrote Vietnam Rising: Culture and Change in Asia’s Tiger Cub (2008), Doing It Wrong and Doing It Right: Education in Latin America and Asia (2003), and Law and Economics in Developing Countries (2000) with E. Buscaglia. He has coauthored studies of US policy toward Cuba and Latin America with R. Fontaine and on Juan Peron with S. Amaral. He is coauthor of The Civil War in Nicaragua (1993) with R. Miranda and Inside the Cuban Interior Ministry (1994) with Juan Antonio Rodriguez Menier.

Ratliff lived and traveled widely in Asia and Latin America, published commentaries in all major US and many foreign newspapers and been interviewed on CNN, NPR, PBS, BBC, Voice of America, and China Radio International. On the Internet, he has written for "The Online NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" and MSNBC’s "Opinion" section. He taught and lectured for nongovernmental organizations and at Stanford University, Tunghai University (Taiwan), the Austrian Defense Academy (Vienna), and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (Beijing). For two decades he wrote classical music reviews and features for the Los Angeles Times and the Metropolitan Opera's Opera News.

His research papers (collection 1, collection 2, and collection 3) are available at the Hoover Institution Archives.

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Recent Commentary

Analysis and Commentary

Why and How to Lift the US Embargo on Cuba

by William Ratliffvia Independent Institute
Thursday, May 7, 2009

Most Latin American leaders slammed the 47-year-old U.S. embargo of Cuba at the mid-April Summit of the Americas in Trinidad...

Analysis and Commentary

Open the door to Cuba

by William Ratliffvia Los Angeles Times
Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Fidel Castro wasn't invited to the Summit of the Americas to be held in Trinidad and Tobago this week, but he may be able to dominate it nonetheless and humiliate the United States for its globally rejected policy toward Cuba...

China, the New Good Neighbor

by William Ratliffvia Hoover Digest
Monday, April 13, 2009

Beijing has now declared a strategic interest in the Americas, and that interest (so far) is trade. By William Ratliff.

Analysis and Commentary

Is a “Win-Win” Relationship in the Cards for China and Mexico?

by William Ratliffvia Jamestown Foundation
Thursday, April 2, 2009

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) says it places high priority on making Mexico an important link in its widely publicized “win-win” expansion into Latin America...

Analysis and Commentary

The Boy from Brazil

by William Ratliffvia Weekly Standard
Monday, February 16, 2009

Just two decades ago Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was unknown, or distinctly unwelcome, in most Brazilian and American homes...

Analysis and Commentary

China's Latin American Tango

by William Ratliffvia Wall Street Journal Asia
Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Last week Chinese President Hu Jintao pledged that China will make a "concerted effort" to "establish a comprehensive cooperative partnership of equality, mutual benefit and common development" with Latin America, according to China's Xinhua news agency...

Analysis and Commentary

Vietnam's War With Progress

by William Ratliffvia Far Eastern Economic Review
Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Vietnam today is in many respects “the darling of foreign investors and multinationals,” or at least that’s how the Economist magazine put it in a special report earlier this year...

A threat of war flared in Latin America

Chávez Bides His Time

by William Ratliffvia Hoover Digest
Friday, June 27, 2008

A threat of war flared in Latin America, and just as quickly subsided. Look closely, if you dare, at what Venezuela was up to. By William Ratliff.

Analysis and Commentary

Giving Colombia a chance

by William Ratliffvia Washington Times
Monday, June 9, 2008

The death of one of Latin America's top guerrilla leaders, Colombia's Manuel "Sureshot" Marulanda, who died last month of a heart attack at age 77, increases the chances for peace and stability in the region...

Analysis and Commentary

The makings of a China-Latin love affair

by William Ratliffvia Asia Times
Saturday, May 31, 2008

The explosive growth of China's links to Latin America in recent years are but the latest developments in a history that reaches back to the Spanish colonial empire in the early-16th century...