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Volume 63 / Social Sciences

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS: GENERAL


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

THE MOST EVIDENT GENERAL TREND during the period under review was the high level of investigation devoted to political-economic matters, with about equal attention paid to Western Hemispheric undertakings and to European-Latin American relationships. This included, collectively, integration associations, agreements, and negotiations for free trade; foreign investment; economic globalization; and related topics. Attention is called to a multi-authored work (item #bi2007002021#), edited by Louise Fawcett and Mónica Serrano, for its breadth and depth of analysis that includes but goes beyond institutional and policy analyses. Within the concept of governance, the 14 authors reflect on regionalism (intra-Latin American, inter-American, and European-Latin American) and transnational civil society opposition (especially regarding labor and environmental issues).

The overall volume of research and writing in other areas of inter-American relations and US foreign policy analysis also remains high, as expected, but specific issue-areas shifted as priorities for investigation. Efforts declined noticeably on the illicit drug trade and the migration of people, usually among the highest priority issues; less surprising, the Organization of American States continued at the low end of the spectrum of interest, following a decline in research interest dating from the mid-1990s.

On the general inter-American level, Lester Langley, in his broadly based work, The Americas in the Modern Age (item #bi2007002015#), provides a thorough, provocative, and insightful history. A continuation of his 1996 book, The Americas in the Age of Revolution, 1750–1850 (see HLAS 60:902), the present volume considers the period between mid-19th century and the beginning of the 21st. It is the culmination of more than two decades of his successful efforts to broaden the analysis of hemispheric history and inter-American relations beyond political and economic perspectives, to include in particular social and cultural perceptions. In a more policy-prescriptive vein, Ronald Scheman, a prominent figure exceptionally experienced and accomplished in Latin American affairs—as attorney, Organization of American States and Inter-American Development Bank official, academic, and author—has written a thoughtful and compelling book (item #bi2007002023#). He analyzes historical events and the present (post-9/11) state of and future prospects for inter-American relations and US policies. He remains essentially a "realistic idealist" in these matters—clearly mindful of the history of "stormy relationships," shifting security realities, and current conflicts and problems, yet continues to champion (as he has for many years) the idea of a hemispheric partnership for a Greater America.

The literature on the consequences of 9/11 for Latin America and US policies, after a slow start, expanded, but to a lesser degree than one might have expected for an event that had such important global results. By that time, inter-American relations had retreated considerably from the initial expansiveness after the end of the Cold War and the US had limited its scope of interest and actions in Latin America. The new global war on terror became the dominant US security concern. Latin Americans, however, with a very different set of security priorities, fit only awkwardly into that paradigm, further confirming the extant low priority of the region in US security calculations (in time, issues of immigration and the illicit drug traffic were exceptions). An important work on this subject, edited by Francisco Rojas Aravena (item #bi2005005634#), is the result of a seminar cosponsored by the International Relations and Strategic Studies Program of FLASCO-Chile and the Latin American Program of the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, DC. An impressive array of high-level academic and governmental contributors thoroughly explores the impact of the war on terrorism on inter-American affairs. They observe, among many other things, that Latin America's security agenda does not fit well into this new international emphasis and has consequently lost importance in the international system.

On US policy in Latin America, a book by Steven Schwartzberg (item #bi2007002024#) stands out as a complex, subtle, thoroughly researched, and essentially idealist revisionist history that focuses on the Truman years, but has historical implications with reference to motives of US foreign policymakers toward Latin America at large. Attention is also called to five useful textbooks on US policies toward Latin America, all concisely written and similar in content but differing in the periods covered and principal themes emphasized. They are: Stewart Brewer (item #bi2006001034#), Kyle Longley (item #bi2005005610#), Alan McPherson (item #bi2007001609#), Henry Raymont (item #bi2007002020#), and Joseph Smith (item #bi2007002026#).

Latin American foreign policy-making received relatively little attention. Raul Bernal-Meza (item #bi2006003044#), however, makes an important contribution to the study of international relations that analyzes in detail the contributions of Latin American thought and theory. After tracing the development of and debates about theories of international relations in the general field, he discusses at length the relatively recent insertion of Latin Americans as important players in the process and the nature and evolution of their specific approaches.


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