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

Everyone wins from a compromise

by William Ratliffvia International Herald Tribune
Sunday, July 1, 2007

Twenty-five years ago, two nations a third of the world apart concluded one of history's most foolish wars in one of the most isolated regions on earth....

Analysis and Commentary

The Return of Fidel Castro and Post-Fidel Cuba

by William Ratliffvia Independent Institute
Friday, June 22, 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...

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Hectored by Hugo

by William Ratliffvia Hoover Digest
Tuesday, June 19, 2007

When he visited Latin Americans earlier this year, President Bush explained just how free, productive societies are built. Were they listening? By William Ratliff.

Analysis and Commentary

Confronting Chavismo in Latin America

by William Ratliffwith Milton Friedmanvia National Interest Online
Monday, April 30, 2007

What a spectacle it was last March to see Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez chasing President George W. Bush up the length of Latin America, from Buenos Aires to Port-au-Prince, shouting challenges and insults at the American leader...

Analysis and Commentary

Is Hugo Chavez a threat to stability?

by William Ratliffvia International Affairs Forum
Saturday, March 31, 2007

Earlier this month George Bush and Hugo Chavez, between them, shuttled through ten Latin American countries, large and small...

Analysis and Commentary

Beware Chavez’s Ancient “Twenty-first Century Socialism”

by William Ratliffvia Independent Institute
Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Gilbert and Sullivan could have written a brilliant comic opera about last month’s spectacle of Hugo Chavez chasing George Bush around Latin America from south to north, shouting all the way...

Analysis and Commentary

Bush’s Chavez Challenge

by William Ratliffvia National Interest
Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Only the most ungrounded of observers would expect George W. Bush to obtain during his first serious presidential trip to Latin American—which begins tomorrow—the achievements his father made in the region 17 years ago...

Analysis and Commentary

George Bush heads south

by William Ratliffvia San Francisco Chronicle
Sunday, March 4, 2007

This week, President Bush will make one of the most important trips of his presidency to five Latin American countries...

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What Pinochet Did for Chile

by Robert A. Packenham, William Ratliffvia Hoover Digest
Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The late strongman ruled harshly but left behind the most successful country in Latin America. By Robert A. Packenham and William Ratliff.

Analysis and Commentary

Chavez and the Fascist Left in Latin America

by William Ratliffwith Milton Friedmanvia Independent Institute
Monday, December 18, 2006

In early December Hugo Chavez, the heir apparent of Fidel Castro’s half-century campaign to undermine the United States and promote “socialism” in the Americas, was handily re-elected president of Venezuela...