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Volume 59 / 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 LITERATURE ON LATIN AMERICA'S GENERAL INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS at the end of the first post-Cold War decade has solidified its conceptual and thematic content. Relatively new trends that scholars had earlier introduced have been sustained. Works reviewed for HLAS 59 include a large number of books, chapters, articles, and other materials dealing with six major characteristics of Latin America's current international relations: (1) the international and foreign policy relevance of the opportunities for and difficulties in sustaining Latin American democracy, civilian authority over the armed forces, protection of human rights, and economic well-being, following the political and economic transformations away from authoritarian governance and state-dominated economies; (2) the increased prominence of certain other transnational issues, including economic integration, trade, investment, debt, insurgency, immigration, refugees, drug trafficking, the environment, sustainable development, arms control, cross-border criminal activities, and public health problems; (3) the efforts especially in the US and Latin America to redefine national and inter-American security in terms of the above issues, following the abandonment of security concepts focusing on Cold War threats; (4) the revival and ambiguous roles of international governmental organizations, especially intra-Latin American integration arrangements, the Inter-American System, and UN agencies; (5) the renewal of interest in Latin America on the part of other external states and organizations, particularly Canada and the European Union (with special interest in Spanish and German policies); and (6) expanding globalization and transnationalization of the international system combined with increasing Latin American regionalization. (See HLAS 57, p. 547-550, for more general commentary on these elements.)

Special note is due to the works indicated here: Samuel Fitch on Latin American armed forces and democracy (item #bi2001004201#); Alison Brysk on Latin American indigenous rights and international relations (item #bi 00001001#); Carrie A. Meyer on Latin American nongovernmental organizations (item #bi 00000159#); Cynthia J. Arnson, editor of a book on peace processes in Latin America (item #bi 00000129#); Tommie Sue Montgomery, editor of a book on peacemaking and democratization (item #bi2001004183#); Victorio Taccetti on Latin America and globalization (item #bi 98011178#); and Gordon Mace, Louis Bélanger, and contributors on regionalism in the Americas (item #bi2001004188#).

In addition, scholars have been active in producing more broadly cast conceptual and empirical studies relating to Latin America's international politics, international economy, and international history, as well as reference works. Among them are Philip L. Kelly on contemporary South American geopolitical schools of thought (item #bi2001004192#); Vinod K. Aggarwal with an international economic treatment of Latin American external debt (item #bi2001004209#); Mark T. Gilderhus on 20th-century US-Latin American relations (item #bi 00000028#); Martha K. Huggins on the history of US direction of and assistance to Latin American police training (item #bi2001004196#); David Sheinin, editor of a book on Pan-Americanism (item #bi 00006658#); companion volumes by Thomas F. O'Brien on 20th-century US business and capitalism in Latin America (item #bi 99008742# and HLAS 57:4803); and books by two prominent political scientists who engage in salutary historical research: Brian Loveman on arms and politics in Latin America (item #bi 99003021#), and Lars Schoultz on the nearly two centuries of US policy toward Latin America (item #bi2001004178#). Among the reference works are G. Pope Atkins, a handbook of research on Latin American-Caribbean international relations (item #bi2001002208#); David W. Dent on the legacy of the Monroe Doctrine (item #bi 99001647#); and Larman C. Wilson and David W. Dent, a dictionary (broadly defined) of inter-American organizations (item #bi 00000027#).

Missing are general and comparative theory-based foreign policy analyses of Latin American and external state processes (beyond those dealing with particular issues or individual countries), seemingly ending a prior period of limited but solid academic progress. A reason may be the current emphasis by Latin Americanists on globalization, to include the connection with regionalism. When studying Latin American integration into the global economy and other transnational phenomena, and with reference to hemispheric and intra-Latin American-Caribbean integration, many analysts seem to assume a kind of rational determinism that requires little attention to foreign policy-making processes. A further reason may be on the theoretical level—the general movement among those researchers on decision-making who offer alternatives to rational models away from comparative political-systems approaches in favor of increased emphasis on cognitive and social psychological paradigms as such. In any event, this state of affairs has resulted in a serious research gap. It would seem incumbent on scholars of Latin American international and comparative politics to revive and help further develop political-systems models (including the psychological elements) of foreign policy analysis.

It is noted and lamented that the Institute for European-Latin American Relations/Instituto de Relaciones Europeo-Latinoamericanas (IRELA) ceased activities in March 2001. Founded in 1984 under the aegis of the European Commission, with a multinational staff located in Madrid, the institute became a superb source of information and analysis and venue of communication for public officials, the private sector, and scholars and other analysts.


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