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

An Assessment of China's Deepening Ties to Latin America

by William Ratliffvia China Brief, Jamestown Foundation
Wednesday, May 21, 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...

The Autumn of the Patriarch

by Oscar Espinosa Chepe, William Ratliffvia Hoover Digest
Thursday, April 17, 2008

When will an American president finally scrap our embargo on Cuba? By Oscar Espinosa Chepe and William Ratliff.

Analysis and Commentary

Threat in the Andes

by William Ratliffvia Los Angeles Times
Friday, March 7, 2008

There hasn't been a really good war in Latin America for many years, but a couple of Andean ideological hotheads are threatening to change that, as Venezuela and Ecuador mobilize troops at their borders with Colombia...

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Che Guevara, Apostle of War

by William Ratliffvia Hoover Digest
Wednesday, January 16, 2008

An icon of peaceful idealism? In real life, Che was an exponent of violence. By William Ratliff.

Analysis and Commentary

U.S. Blows It Again on Cuba

by William Ratliffvia Providence Journal
Thursday, December 6, 2007

Not long ago, for the 16th year in a row, the U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly condemned the U.S. embargo on Cuba...

Analysis and Commentary

Venezuela's path to self-destruction

by William Ratliffvia Los Angeles Times
Saturday, November 24, 2007

On Dec. 2, Venezuelans will be asked to vote on a whopping 69 constitutional amendments that would greatly reduce the country's democratic governance, strip citizens of still more individual liberties and thus expand President Hugo Chavez's power even beyond what it is today...

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The Far Shore

by William Ratliffvia Hoover Digest
Friday, October 19, 2007

If common sense were to reign over the Falkland Islands, Argentina and Britain might finally come to see their common interests. By William Ratliff.

Analysis and Commentary

Che is the “Patron Saint” of Warfare

by William Ratliffvia Independent Institute
Tuesday, October 9, 2007

As I walked toward the grandiose Basilica of Saint Francis in this ancient city, I saw a familiar face at a souvenir stall on my left...

Analysis and Commentary

Un acuerdo realista sobre las Malvinas

by William Ratliffvia La Nacion (Argentina)
Wednesday, July 11, 2007

El 25º aniversario del fin de una guerra trágica es un momento oportuno para lamentar las pérdidas....

Analysis and Commentary

The Return of Fidel Castro and Post-Fidel Cuba

by William Ratliffvia American Chronicle
Tuesday, July 3, 2007

We finally have tolerably good evidence that Fidel Castro is really alive and at least to some degree recuperating after ten months and several surgeries...