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Volume 55 / Social Sciences

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS: GENERAL


G. POPE ATKINS, Research Fellow, Institute of Latin American Studies, University of Texas at Austin, and Professor Emeritus of Political Science, United States Naval Academy


THE SCHOLARLY LITERATURE on the general international relations of Latin America during the recent period surveyed was largely cast in terms of the ensuing developments consequent to the end of the Cold War and the political and economic changes in the Latin American region. Their impact is reflected on all levels of Latin America's international relations - the global system and the regional subsystem, the foreign policies of the individual state and nonstate actors involved, and the substantive issues giving rise to foreign policy decisions and international interactions.

While analysis has caught up with the international and regional transformations and the new realities underlying the treatments of specific topics, few works were devoted to general theoretical considerations or the systemic levels as such. Those that did followed established approaches to the general study of international relations, and recognized the revived importance of regionalism and the increased linkages between domestic and international politics for most states. Particularly useful among them is the book by Luciano Tomassini et al. (item bi 94004191), which places Latin America firmly, in theoretical and substantive terms, in the current multidimensional international system. A number of studies addressed dependency theories, which have been in decline among analysts for some two decades and all but abandoned as the bases for Latin American policies in favor of economic neoliberalism. The book authored by Robert Packenham (item bi 94015723) and the collection edited by Osvaldo Sunkel (item bi 93008841) present directly opposing viewpoints, the former worrying about the long-term negative influence of those theories on scholars and scholarship and the latter seeking a continuing role for structuralism in the current era. The contributing authors to Howard Wiarda's new edition of an established treatise (item bi 94015747) underscore Latin America's awkward fit into a global Third World conceptualization or structure.

A paucity of general foreign policy analyses is observed on the Latin American state actor level, following several steady years of solid contributions. Those cited see domestic influences on foreign policy decisions and actions as paramount, in particular the idea that the transformation from military regimes and closed economies to constitutional neoliberal systems has been completed, although with exceptions and many unknowns and risks in both instances. The book edited by Barry Levine (item bi 95025307) is an important critique of State-run economies in defense of neoliberalism. Jeffrey Frieden (item bi 94015704) places emphasis on social groups in political-economic change in consonance with his definition of "modern political economy." Analysts also continue to emphasize concertación - the concept of Latin American foreign policies "acting in concert" in the sense of "harmonization."

Studies of the United States' Latin American foreign policy comprise the single largest number of items cited. Following the general trend noted in HLAS 53, they address the difficulties faced by analysts and policy makers in dealing with the new set of high priority inter-American issues in a transformed post-Cold War security environment. Robert Pastor authored a book (item bi 94011309) that is helpful in sorting out US priorities, alternatives, and issues in the unclear future. An original endeavor by Martha Cottam (item bi 94009975) studies images held by decision makers and their influence on interventionist policies. Frederick Pike (item bi 94015724) adds another comprehensive volume to his distinguished list of studies on intellectual and international history with a systematic exploration of certain aspects of perceptions and policy. In the arena of US-Latin American relations, Chilean and US contributors to the book edited by Jonathan Hartlyn, Lars Schoultz, and Augusto Varas (item bi 94004211) see a period when a commonality of problems and interests, long favored in diplomatic rhetoric, is real and abiding. Abraham Lowenthal and Gregory Treverton edited a volume (item bi 94006001) in which a distinguished group addresses the substantive post-Cold War inter-American issues.

The quantity and quality of work on international institutions were mixed. A large number of items relating to Latin American economic integration and hemispheric free trade were surveyed but few are cited. Among the latter, a special issue of the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science (item bi 95025404), organized and edited by Sidney Weintraub, and a book edited by Sylvia Saborío (item bi 94015725) are highlighted here. In a reversal of the trend noted in HLAS 53, the institutions of the Inter-American System received surprisingly little substantive treatment, even though they continued to undergo something of a resurgence. Among them, however, the book by Carlos Stoetzer (item bi 93014938) provides a thorough reference work on the Organization of American States. A significant new trend in the literature noted in HLAS 53 continues: an accelerated regard for Canada's new role in inter-American relations, the result of Canadian decisions taken in the late 1980s, especially its commitment to act through the Inter-American System and UN conflict-resolution mechanisms. Two books are particularly informative, one edited by Jerry Haar and Edgar Dosman (item bi 94015700) and another authored by James Rochlin (item bi 95025447).

European policies received substantial scholarly notice, more often than not treated in the context of the European Community (which has evolved into the European Union). Most of the works were written before the Maastricht Treaty provisions were changed or their implementation delayed, but still offer useful information and insights. Nonetheless, the quantity of writing on the subject seems to have dropped since early 1993.

The former Soviet Union, Russia and the former Eastern Europe received attention, generally as a matter of updating and analyzing recent events and recognizing Moscow's virtual withdrawal (sometimes with the qualifier "temporary") from the region. An interesting line of analytic speculation was the usefulness of the Latin American experience with redemocratization and economic opening as a model for the former Soviet and East European states. The fact that no significant book-length works appeared may reflect the Sovietologists' general dilemma in that their field has lost much of its current and immediate future analytic and policy relevance.

A modicum of attention was devoted to specific aspects regarding other actors. Cited below are works on Japan, China, Sweden, and Spain, as well as on the Ibero-American summit of heads of states from Spain, Portugal, and Latin America. In the case of Japan, the book edited by Barbara Stallings and Gabriel Székely (item bi 93013504) implicitly underscores the small role played by the US in the "trilateral relationship." Non-nation-state actors cited include the Holy See, the Socialist International, and insurgent groups. On the latter, the book by Timothy Wickham-Crowley (item bi 94015776) is especially recommended.

Works are cited on all of the issues currently at the top of state policy and academic research agendas (none of which are new): economic questions, democracy and human rights, narcotraffic, immigration and refugees, and environmental problems. The debt problem (after a temporary lull noted in HLAS 53) and narcotraffic received the most attention on a roughly equal level. In the case of the drug problem, attention is called to the book edited by Peter Smith (see HLAS 53:4381); and regarding the external debt, to the books edited by Robert Grosse (item bi 94015726) and by Alfred McCoy and Alan Block (item bi 94015773). Christopher Mitchell edited a good collection of essays on hemispheric immigration (item bi 94015774).


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