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

Pinochet's legacy

by William Ratliffvia Globe and Mail (Canada)
Saturday, December 16, 2006

General Augusto Pinochet, whose death last week in Chile incited hundreds of thousands to public cheers and tears, was as polarizing a personality as Osama bin Laden...

Analysis and Commentary

Hugo Chavez, More Caudillo than Leftist

by William Ratliffvia National Interest Online
Thursday, December 7, 2006

The recently reelected Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is widely seen as part of the potentially dangerous surge of the left in the region...

Analysis and Commentary

In Latin America, the challenge is pragmatism

by William Ratliffvia Los Angeles Times
Tuesday, December 5, 2006

The knee-jerk question about Latin America these days is whether the region is "turning left"...

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Fidel Castro, Past Tense

by William Ratliff, Roger Fontainevia Hoover Digest
Monday, October 30, 2006

Whether he lives or dies, Fidel has ceased to govern Cuba. What the United States should do now. By William Ratliff and Roger Fontaine.

Analysis and Commentary

Raul, China, and Post-Fidel Cuba

by William Ratliffvia Latin Business Chronicle
Monday, August 28, 2006

At the beginning of August, Cuba got a new “Maximum Leader” for the first time in almost a half century...

Analysis and Commentary

Chavez Does China

by William Ratliffvia Los Angeles Times
Friday, August 25, 2006

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's world tour has landed him in China for the fourth time during his presidency

Analysis and Commentary

Raul Castro, China, and Post-Fidel Cuba

by William Ratliffvia Independent Institute
Wednesday, August 23, 2006

At the beginning of August, Cuba got a new “Maximum Leader” for the first time in almost a half century…

Analysis and Commentary

¿Ayudará Fidel a Raúl a transformar la revolución cubana?

by William Ratliffvia Analitica (Venezuela)
Friday, August 18, 2006

Fidel Castro sobrevivió la cirugía intestinal y celebró tranquilamente sus 80 años, aunque el mensaje a los cubanos es que estén preparados para malas noticias…

Analysis and Commentary

Change in Cuba must come from Cubans

by William Ratliffvia San Francisco Chronicle
Sunday, August 6, 2006

The time has finally come for us to begin thinking of Fidel Castro in the past tense…

Cuba's Struggle to Awake

by William Ratliffvia Hoover Digest
Sunday, April 30, 2006

As Cuba comes to after its long nightmare, what policy should the United States adopt? Realism. By William Ratliff.