Was the Cold War a distinctive moment for U.S.–Latin American relations? The answer can be no. The United States had faced military, political, and economic competition for influence in the Americas from extracontinental powers both before and during the Cold War. The United States pursued ideological objectives in its policy toward Latin America before, during, and after the Cold War. And the pattern of U.S. defense of its economic interests was not appreciably different during the Cold War than before. And yet, this article argues that the Cold War was a distinctive moment because ideological considerations acquired primacy over U.S. policy in the region to an extent unparalleled in the history of inter–American relations. As a consequence, this ideologically–driven U.S. policy often exhibited nonlogical characteristics because the instruments chosen to implement U.S. policy were too costly, disproportionate, or inappropriate. The article focuses on those instances when the United States used military force to achieve its aims or when the United States promoted or orchestrated an attempt to overthrow a Latin American government.