When the Cold War ended in the late 1980s, Washington and Beijing were on good terms–the military balance between the two countries was not politically salient. Much has happened in the ensuing decades. While American attention turned towards battling Iraq in two wars, responding to the threat posed by al-Qaida in Afghanistan and around the world, and in dealing with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS/DAESH) as the latest manifestation of the jihadist threat, the status quo was changing in Asia. China has emerged not only as a global economic and political power, but also as a conventional military power in the Western Pacific that possesses a small nuclear arsenal that under permissive circumstances can hold a few United States (U.S.) cities at risk. The conventional and nuclear balance in Asia is shifting from one of overwhelming U.S. preponderance to a situation in which things might become a bit more sporting.
Tag: United States
To what extent is it possible for less powerful states to influence the behavior of great powers? Do weaker states possess sufficient agency to advance their own objectives? These fundamental questions lie at the heart of Tom Long’s Latin America Confronts the United States. Through an examination of four case studies he finds that, indeed, Latin American states have found success adopting strategies of cooperation with the United States in their efforts to advance their interests. In the process, Long contributes a historical narrative of his selected cases and advances an internationalist framework for understanding U.S.-Latin American relations.
H-Diplo | ISSF Roundtable, Volume X, No. 5 (2018)
H-Diplo/ISSF Editors: Thomas Maddux and Diane Labrosse
H-Diplo/ISSF Roundtable and Web/Production Editor: George Fujii
Tom Long. Latin America Confronts the United States. Asymmetry and Influence. New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN: 9781107121249 (hardcover, $99.99); 9781107547056 (paperback, $29.99).
Published on 8 January 2018
PDF URL: http://issforum.org/ISSF/PDF/ISSF-Roundtable-10-5.pdf
© Copyright 2018 The Authors
To what extent is it possible for less powerful states to influence the behavior of great powers? Do weaker states possess sufficient agency to advance their own objectives? These fundamental questions lie at the heart of Tom Long’s Latin America Confronts the United States. Through an examination of four case studies he finds that, indeed, Latin American states have found success adopting strategies of cooperation with the United States in their efforts to advance their interests. In the process, Long contributes a historical narrative of his selected cases and advances an internationalist framework for understanding U.S.-Latin American relations.
A political scientist by training, Long adopts a historically-grounded approach. He makes clear the virtue of working at the disciplinary intersection of history and political science by basing theoretical insights in a detailed historical account. Painting in broad brushstrokes, Long surveys the extant literature on U.S.-Latin American relations and reduces it into three schools: the establishment school, which concludes that U.S. policy has been guided by the best interests of all involved; the revisionist school, which finds U.S. policy to have been imperial or hegemonic, and to have exacted a high price throughout Latin America; and an emerging internationalist approach, in which he positions his own scholarship. Both the establishment and revisionist schools concentrate excessively on U.S. policy and power, he argues. They assume that the United States had the capacity to exert its will upon smaller states either for good or for ill. By contrast, the internationalist approach takes Latin American agency seriously. Countries in the region have helped to chart their own destinies in important ways. States were not necessarily magnanimous or hostile, but rather pursued what leaders identified as their interests.
To establish the merits of the internationalist approach to the study of U.S.-Latin American relations, Long employs four case studies from the Cold-War and post-Cold War eras: the emergence of the Alliance for Progress; the completion of the 1977 Panama Canal Treaty; the establishment of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA); and the development of Plan Colombia. In each case, Long argues that through a variety of strategies the weaker Latin American state was ultimately able to compel the more powerful United States to accede to at least a portion of its objectives.
The reviewers are generally impressed with Long’s accomplishment. In the most laudatory essay, Richard Feinberg calls the book a “seminal contribution to international relations theory.” Gian Luca Gardini concludes that “[o]verall Latin America Confronts the United States is an excellent book not only because of its academic rigor and quite original focus and approach, but most of all because it makes the reader think deeply and widely about U.S.-Latin America relations and more broadly. It revives the diplomatic-history approach to international relations.” Similarly, Laura Macdonald holds that “Long displays convincingly … that although most Latin American states were not ‘mice that roared,’ even very small states were able at times to challenge, revise, or subvert U.S. policies in order to achieve outcomes more in line with their administrations’ own objectives.” She concludes, “this volume represents a valuable contribution to the project of rethinking the relations between the powerful and the less powerful within a rapidly changing global order.” Finally, Juan Pablo Scarfi finds that the book “is a groundbreaking study and contribution to an emerging scholarship that seeks to globalize international relations by examining it through the lens of the South, the so-called Third World, and the perspective of weaker states.”
The reviewers are divided on some important elements of Long’s scholarship. His extended critique of revisionism comprises a prominent example. Feinberg is enthusiastic about Long’s analysis, agreeing that the United States has exerted dominance over Latin America. Indeed, he finds that “paradoxically, Long provides some ammunition for Donald Trump, in so far as Long finds that Latin Americans have struck deals in their favor.” By contrast, Macdonald offers a conditional defense of some interpretive strains of revisionism. There is a voluminous literature that has developed an extended critique of the exercise of U.S. power in the region and, he argues, some of it has merit.
The reviewers raise other important questions about the book. Gardini questions the degree to which Long’s emphasis on Latin American voices substantially affects our understanding of the case studies. “While the fresh evidence provided by Long sheds new light on the dynamics of international decision making,” he writes, “it also confirms that our existing understanding that the U.S. played a prominent role in shaping inter-American agenda and politics is broadly correct. The essence of the findings of the book is more confirmatory than revolutionary.” Gardini would also like to see a different kind of analysis of the way power is exercised. He proposes that we “think of countries as relevant international managers [emphasis in original] rather than powers of some sort and degree.” He also suggests that Long’s work might better be grounded in the scholarly literature on cooperation rather than on power.
Scarfi observes that “Long focusses exclusively on cooperation influence, despite the fact that the main title promises to provide a discussion of confrontational forms of influence.” He also calls on Long to trace the historical roots of the case studies back further, into the early twentieth century, so as to analyze the degree to which reactions against the invasive nature of U.S. power in that era shaped later interactions. Finally, he points out that there is no inherent reason why the framework of empire or hegemony must imply a lack of Latin American agency, as Long suggests.
Long’s promotion of an internationalist approach to the study of inter-American affairs appears to represent a movement among international relations scholars in political science to meet an existing movement among historians. To be sure, there are historians who study U.S.-Latin American relations whose primary interest remains centered on the formulation and execution of U.S. policy. However, the trend in the literature over the past generation has moved decisively toward international scholarship. Highlighting and analyzing Latin American voices and perspectives is not novel, but is rather central to the contemporary field.
Of greatest significance, Long pushes scholars of international affairs generally to think carefully about the strategies weaker states have adopted to advance their agendas. He focusses our collective attention on the negotiations themselves, and some of the ways that outcomes are negotiated in asymmetrical relationships. Latin America Confronts the United States is a book that should be read by anybody interested in those dynamics.
Tom Long is an Assistant Professor at the University of Warwick and an Affiliated Professor at the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas in Mexico City. In addition to Latin America Confronts the United States, he has published articles in journals including International Security, International Studies Review, and Diplomatic History. He is currently working one two projects: one involves the dynamics of asymmetry in IR theory; the other examines the recreation of the inter-American system after the Second World War. His research has been supported by grants from the Tinker Foundation, British Council, the British Academy and Leverhulme Trust, and the Truman Library Institute. He has been named a 2017-2018 Fulbright Scholar at the Pontificia Universidad Católica in Santiago, Chile. He holds a Ph.D. in International Relations from American University.
Dustin Walcher is Associate Professor and Chair of History and Political Science at Southern Oregon University. A specialist in international affairs, U.S. foreign relations, and inter-American affairs, his scholarship analyzes international economic policy, global capitalism, and social disruption. He is currently revising a manuscript that examines the link between the failure of U.S.-led economic initiatives and the rise of social revolution in Argentina during the 1950s and 1960s. With Jeffrey F. Taffet he recently published The United States and Latin America: A History with Documents (Routledge, 2017).
Richard E. Feinberg is professor of international political economy at the graduate School of Global Policy and Strategy, UC, San Diego; Senior Fellow (non-resident), Brookings Institution; and book reviewer for the Western Hemisphere section of Foreign Affairs, flagship publication of the Council on Foreign Relations. His four decades of engagement with inter-American relations spans government service (in the White House, Department of State, and U.S. Treasury), numerous Washington, D.C.-based public policy institutes, the Peace Corps (Chile), and now in academia. His most recent book is Open for Business: Building the New Cuban Economy (Brookings, 2016). His views on foreign affairs appear regularly in the U.S. and international media. Feinberg earned his B.A. in European History at Brown University and his Ph.D. in international economics at Stanford University.
Gian Luca Gardini is Professor of International Relations and Latin American Politics. He joined FAU in 2014 as Chair of International Business and Society Relations with focus on Latin America. He has previously taught at the University of Cambridge and at the University of Bath in the United Kingdom. Professor Gardini holds a Master of Philosophy (MPhil) and a PhD in International Relations from the University of Cambridge. He also obtained a Graduate Diploma in European Studies from the Italian Centre for International Economic Cooperation. His main research interests cover the international relations of Latin America, foreign policy analysis, comparative regional integration, international organisation, and issues of international power, order and institutions. Among his recent books are The Origins of Mercosur. Democracy and Regionalization in South America (Palgrave MacMillan, 2010), Latin American Foreign Policies: Between Ideology and Pragmatism (Palgrave MacMillan, 2011), Latin America in the 21st Century (Zed Books, 2012), and Foreign Policy Responses to the Rise of Brazil (Palgrave MacMillan, 2016). He also acted as a practitioner of International and EU affairs. He was project manager for several EU consulting firms, Representative to the EU of the Italian Confederation of Industry, and International Trade Advisor to EUROCHAMBRES, the European Association of Chambers of Commerce and Industry. In 2012 he was seconded officer to the Chilean Foreign Ministry working in the team that organised the EU-Latin American and Caribbean Summit.
Laura Macdonald (PhD York) is a Professor in the Department of Political Science and cross-listed to the Institute of Political Economy at Carleton University, Ottawa. She has published numerous books and articles. Her edited collections include The Politics of Violence in Latin America and the Caribbean with Tina Hilgers (Cambridge University Press, 2017) and Post-Neoliberalism in the Americas: Beyond the Washington Consensus? with Arne Rückert (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009). Her current work concerns relations between Canada and Latin America, with a focus on foreign relations, mining investment and migration.
Juan Pablo Scarfi completed his Ph.D. in Politics and International Studies at the University of Cambridge, UK, in 2014. He is currently a Research Associate at the Argentine National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET), and an Assistant Professor of International Relations at the School of Politics and Government at the National University of San Martín, Argentina. He was a Visiting Scholar at University College London (Institute of the Americas) and Columbia University. He is the author of The Hidden History of International Law in the Americas: Empire and Legal Networks (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017), El imperio de la ley: James Brown Scott y la construcción de un orden jurídico interamericano (Buenos Aires: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2014) and co-editor with Andrew Tillman of Cooperation and Hegemony in US-Latin American Relations: Revisiting the Western Hemisphere Idea (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016). His current research project focuses on the origins of human rights in the Inter-American System and the geopolitics of the Cold War.
In this seminal contribution to international relations theory, Tom Long cogently reveals the significant shortcomings of traditional approaches—which he labels establishment realism and revisionism—and presents his own conceptual alternative, namely ‘internationalism.’ Long’s methodologies include conceptual reasoning as well as four empirical country case studies, enriched by deep dives into numerous archives around the Western Hemisphere as well as elite interviews with influential policy makers. Challenging scholars who mainly equate U.S. foreign policy-making with U.S.-Latin American relations, Long strives to re-introduce Latin America into inter-American relations. His case studies also demonstrate that material asymmetry does not eliminate the possibility for influence via agenda-setting and shrewd bargaining by the apparently weaker power. In Long’s internationalist approach, Latin America regains agency.
Long, divides scholarship on inter-American relations into two broad camps. The establishment scholars argue that, in the main, the United States has been a beneficial partner, assisting Latin American countries to advance their own security, and economic and political interests; the interests of the United States and of Latin America are largely convergent. In fact, this establishment view is scarcely articulated within academia, rather it is more often defended by U.S. policymakers, whether in official remarks or in the memoirs of former officials. But Long tends to agree, in his four case studies, that the perceived interests of Latin America and of U.S. elites are sufficiently compatible such that smart, flexible negotiators can find common ground around mutual interests.
Long faults the revisionist school, which has much in common with realism, so dominant in the international relations literature, and dependency theories which were more popular in Latin America in the 1960s and 1970s but whose echoes remain strong today in the academic literature. In these views, the asymmetry of power between the colossus of the North and the much weaker, smaller and more fragmented Latin American nations is almost too obvious to belabor. The more powerful United States has been able to impose its policy preferences on the region, whether that meant overthrowing ‘communist’ governments, as in the oft-cited cases of Guatemala (1954) and Chile (1973), or in the broader, macro realm, shackling the region with the ‘neo-liberal’ model of open-market economies.
Long’s attack on the revisionist school is two-prolonged, one theoretical, one driven by his historical case studies. In the realm of theory, Long perceptively argues that revisionists fall into the same trap as more traditional realists: they measure power by what they can see and quantify, such as gross national product or annual military spending. In extreme cases, these metrics may be determinant. But in recent decades, how often has the United States actually sent its troops across Latin American borders? Scholars have tended to focus disproportionately on those cases where the United States did employ force, whether conventional or via surrogates or using covert instruments, but Long categorizes these as outlier cases, not at all typical of the more day-to-day mundane interactions that are more characteristic of inter-American relations. These special cases make for colorful stories, but when generalized can be grossly misleading. Similarly, Graham Allison’s classic study, Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis, was for too long considered a paradigmatic example of U.S. foreign policy making, when in fact such concentrated, senior-level attention to an existential foreign policy confrontation was extraordinary. Long explicitly excludes Cuba from his case studies, as the intensity of its conflict makes it a unique case in inter-American relations.
The revisionists reply on examples (Guatemala, Chile) of U.S. foreign policy that are now decades old. Yet, they ignore contemporary examples of a more multilateral and idealist U.S. foreign policy, such as the restoration of Jean-Bertrand Aristide to power in Haiti in 1994; or the post-Cold War pro-democracy policies that successfully forestalled any number of coup d’état attempts and helped to strengthen democratic institutions, however imperfect, throughout the region. The highly critical revisionist school also tends to ignore or downplay the positive roles the U.S. played in helping to end protracted civil wars and negotiate peace agreements in El Salvador, Guatemala, and most recently in Colombia. Apparently, these cases are less colorful, and do not fit the revisionist paradigm of inherent conflict and systemic imposition and exploitation.
Long also notes, correctly, that too many scholars, especially in international relations literature, lump all of Latin America into a single entity. In fact, to the extent that the United States historically displayed its military advantage, it has been in the smaller countries of the Caribbean basin, arguably the natural geographic zone of influence of a great power. In these nations, the costs of intervention have been low, and the security stakes were perceived to be high, especially in domestic political terms. It is a serious error to extrapolate heavy-handed U.S. behavior in its near-abroad to the more distant South America—a distinct subsystem—where the United States has been much more reluctant to directly employ its overwhelming power (using traditional metrics) and where the regional power, Brazil, holds sway.
Long is looking for more subtle channels of influence than blatant coercive power, as more commonly scrutinized in the constructivist or institutional literature. In his four case studies, he finds cogent evidence of Latin American agency: Latin American leaders are able to advance their own agenda and interests through a series of mechanisms. Astute Latin Americans have altered the perceptions and priorities of U.S. policymakers, for example by exaggerating a security threat to U.S. interests; or by suggesting how a policy initiative could bolster the image of the United States as an enlightened, benign global power. Relaxing cherished concepts of sovereignty and non-intervention, Latin Americans have taken advantage of the very porous nature of the U.S. political system, and worked the corridors of the sprawling executive branch agencies and the U.S. Congress. Latin Americans can also be excellent negotiators; and they have the advantage of being very focused on advancing their particular interests, while senior U.S. policy makers are pulled in so many directions that their focus can lapse, handing the apparently smaller player an advantage at the bargaining table. Long also notes the capacity of clever Latin American leaders to rally international opinion behind the interests of the weaker underdog, to use idealism and numbers to gang up against the bully power. Indeed, the United States on occasion shies away from multilateral forums precisely because it fears such a concerted power play by the apparently weaker states.
Long marshals four country studies to make his case for Latin American agency. Latin America Confronts the United States is a revision of his Ph.D. dissertation completed under the guidance of the late Robert Pastor. Author of many important books on inter-American relations, including Exiting the Whirlpool: U.S. Foreign Policy toward Latin America and the Caribbean (2001), Pastor’s influence is especially apparent in the case study of the Panama Canal Treaties. The landmark treaties were negotiated and ratified during the Carter administration, when Pastor was a senior presidential aide in the White House tasked with the Latin American portfolio. As a mentor, Pastor brought his personal awareness of the capacity of General Omar Torrijos and his negotiators to advance their agenda and interests at the summit of the U.S. foreign policy making apparatus. The realism school can hardly explain the U.S. decision to transfer control over the canal to Panamanian authorities. The United States military presence on the bases was overwhelming. Yet, the Panamanians persuaded the Nixon-Ford and Carter administrations that it was in the long-term U.S. national interest to yield, even as the Carter administration paid a high political price to gain passage of the revised treaties through the U.S. Senate.
In the Panama and three other case studies, Long underscores the importance of domestic politics in both Latin America and the United States, as drivers of agendas and creating conditions for convergence of interests. However, Long does not offer detailed analyses of local interest groups and their influence on policy agendas and outcomes. Revisionist scholars might suggest that the agency that Long observes is less that of the nation as a whole than of narrower interest groups or socio-economic classes. For example, the case study of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) demonstrates conclusively that it was the Mexican government, not the United States, which initiated and drove the trade negotiations, based upon its own dramatic redefinition of the Mexican national interest. Both countries scored gains and made concessions in the negotiations (contrary to accusations by President Donald Trump). Yet, some economic interests within Mexico surely gained more than others; for example, some agricultural and industrial sectors would not be able to compete against a surge of U.S. imports. The overall impact of a more open economy ever more integrated into North American markets on Mexico’s income and wealth distribution remains a matter of heated debate.
The other two case studies involve Brazil’s advocacy in the 1950s of increased foreign assistance, which would eventually gain traction as President John F. Kennedy’s Alliance for Progress, and U.S. assistance to ‘Plan Colombia’ in the late 1990s and early 2000s. In both cases, Latin American leaders succeeded in raising the salience of their issues and inserting them onto the crowded calendars of busy, distracted senior U.S. policy makers, and in extracting significant economic resources in pursuit of their own political agendas and national interests. The Latin Americans succeeded in part because they persuasively made linkages between economic assistance and pro-poor economic development and fundamental U.S. security interests, at least as perceived by U.S. policy makers at the time. Long is at pains to argue against those who paint ‘Plan Colombia’ as a made-in-the-USA imposition, offering cogent evidence that both in its broad framework and in its details, the strategy was very much a made-in-Bogota initiative.
Paradoxically, Long provides some ammunition for Donald Trump, in so far as Long finds that Latin Americans have struck deals in their favor. Seemingly adopting a zero-sum perspective on international bargaining, Trump scores these deals as demonstrating weakness on the part of U.S. negotiators. If U.S. negotiators were sometimes willing to grant concessions based upon calculations of long-term interests, of the strategic value of good relations with its neighbors, or the requirement of great powers to bear the costs of the global commons, Trump simply perceives bad negotiating strategies. While Trump cannot retake the Panama Canal, his administration has called into question the Colombian peace accords, is seeking to revamp the U.S.-Mexican relationship, and has urged Congress to make deep cuts to U.S. economic assistance to the region. We shall see how well Latin American negotiators are able to defend their interests in this new geopolitical context.
Tom Long’s Latin America confronts the United States reminded me of one of my few certainties in the study of international relations. This is the centrality of accurate historical reconstruction of episodes and their contexts in order to construct credible political analyses and plausible International Relations theoretical arguments. When asked what skills it takes to become an IR scholar, John Mearsheimer, a prominent figure in the discipline, mentioned three. Creativity and the will to make controversial arguments are important. Most of all, he made a compelling case for a solid and wide knowledge of history and invited young IR scholars to read history as widely as possible, to make parallels and links between historical episodes and to reflect on patterns and lessons. Long’s work successfully takes on these suggestions. Latin America confronts the United States is an excellent piece of diplomatic history in the first instance. Drawing from solid empirical evidence, based on rich archival work and elite interviews, the book also offers the reader the opportunity to reflect on theoretical questions and controversial arguments, which make the book a solid and refreshing piece of IR scholarship too.
The central argument is that Latin America has exercised more influence in U.S.-Latin American relations than is usually acknowledged (3). I very much welcome the attempt to rebalance the relation between the U.S. and Latin America by giving proactive agency to the latter. The book brings to full fruition some earlier suggestions in this direction. Long overcomes the debate between the mainstream currents of the ‘establishment’ and the ‘anti-imperialists’, which have been called into question by Russell Crandall,  by having recourse to an ‘internationalist approach’. This focuses on many international actors instead of one only or mainly, namely the United States. This approach responds to a long-time call and process to make IR as a discipline more open and less U.S.-centred and has a valuable methodological appendix: the consideration of multi-national sources too, which add in richness and breadth of analysis. Furthermore, following Hal Brands and his insightful Latin America’s Cold War, Long combines the domestic, regional, and international planes of analysis to provide a quite comprehensive explanation of complex phenomena, and he does so from a Latin American perspective.
Yet, Long himself acknowledges that the traditional focus on the U.S. and the neglect of Latin America to explain inter-American relations may have good reasons (1). The central question is to what extent Latin America (or a Latin American country) actually determined the outcome of the single episodes discussed in the book and more broadly of patterns of U.S.-Latin American relations. Long’s analysis focuses on Latin American leaders and foreign policies. This helps us understand an aspect often overlooked in established narratives. However, one may wonder how novel the findings of this effort are. By looking at the case studies, Long offers conclusions that are not dissimilar from those reached by more traditional accounts. In the Operation Pan-Americana case study, changes in U.S. foreign policy “in large part (…) had to do with US domestic politics, along with worsening US-Cuba relations” (72). In the Panama case, [President Jimmy] “Carter played a crucial role” (72). In the case of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the final outcome was “more sour than sweet for Mexico” (169) and in any case the “US interest in establishing an FTA with Mexico was strong” (171). Finally, U.S. concerns about regional stability and cocaine trafficking largely placed the need for action in Colombia on the U.S. agenda (213). While the fresh evidence provided by Long sheds new light on the dynamics of international decision-making, it also confirms that our existing understanding that the U.S. played a prominent role in shaping inter-American agenda and policies is broadly correct. The essence of the findings of the book is more confirmatory than revolutionary. The way in which these findings were achieved is more interesting.
On a parallel note, a few more considerations and challenges linking method and theory come to mind. On the methodological side, it may be relatively easy to ‘internationalise’ research and expand it to several actors when attention focuses on case studies, which are relatively limited in scope themselves. It may not be an accident that Crandall’s earlier attempt in this direction was also largely based on case studies. The next challenge would be to think of how, for instance, to write an overall account of U.S.-Latin American relations, or, better, “inter-American relations”, with an internationalist approach and a multi-national perspective. To what extent is this feasible? How to incorporate the different political understanding and contexts as well the diplomatic strategies and actions of 33 Latin American countries over 200 years of U.S.-Latin American relations? Or, alternatively, how to prioritise the selection of ‘relevant’ actors? Of ‘relevant’ issues or episodes? Relevant to whom? The hegemon? The challengers? A majority of them? Would such attempt invariably lead to yet another edited collection with a quite loose common conceptual framework?
I thought of these issues myself when considering a European Union-Latin American relations research project. With reference to the Americas, I concluded that the traditional focus on the U.S. has something to do not only with our understanding of international politics, and perhaps a little intellectual bias, but also with convenience of methods. It is easier to start with one country and look at how it relates to many others. It simplifies and systematise otherwise extremely complex scenarios. It is much more challenging to look at how 33 countries deal with one and how they relate to one another with reference to that major partner. In fact, the search for a single Latin American position on how to deal with the U.S. has been a historically sticky point for Latin American regionalism and a satisfactory and consistent answer has not been found yet. Echoing Long’s conclusion that studying U.S. policy is not a sufficient proxy for understanding U.S.-Latin American relations (235), I take the liberty to make a call to those interested in a comprehensive project on the history of inter-American relations from an internationalist perspective. I would consider this a major conceptual advance in IR.
On the more theoretical side, the book offers propositions on how to conceptualize power and influence too, mainly with reference to weaker states in asymmetric contexts. All four case studies in the book represent key policy areas for the U.S. as much as for its Latin American counterpart. In such cases, it may be difficult for weaker partners to determine the outcome, but it may be easier to get those topics on Washington’s agenda. The point, aptly captured by Long, is therefore how to exercise influence. Long proposes a three-point theoretical conceptualization of the influence that weaker states can exercise in a situation of asymmetry (222-226): derivative power, that is to stress and exploit a perceived commonality of interests; collective power, that is to win international allies and/or to internationalise the issue; and particular power, as a result of special strategic, ideological or other conditions.
There is a growing body of literature on second-tier and even lesser powers and the scope for their action in asymmetric relations. Work is also available with a specific focus on Latin America. While Long’s conceptualization of collective and particular foreign-policy power have been addressed in the literature, although perhaps under different labels, the idea of derivative power seems more promising for further discussion, both theoretically and in terms of policy relevance. This specific form of foreign-policy power lends itself to more case-study analyses as well as to further theoretical conceptualization in terms of ways, conditions, and resources to exercise it. In particular, Long suggests that to better understand U.S.-Latin American relations we must acknowledge the agency of both sides, and that this requires a broader conceptualization of power (3). I agree, and would go as far as saying that IR overall requires a new definition of, or even an alternative concept to, power.
No doubt, power is central to IR but its definition, measurement, and application have been elusive. The existing literature both reflects and responds to this concern. A possible way to better understand the power that Latin American countries have vis-à-vis the United States is to consider the idea of ‘power to’ instead of ‘power over’, the power ‘to’ shape perceptions, agendas, and eventually policies instead of the power they may exercise ‘over’ specific issues or actors involved. Another theoretical option is to have recourse to new definitions of power employed in the recent literature, such as new power to refer to the changed global scenario of our times; ad-hoc power to stress sectorial commitments and the vacuum left by U.S. retrenchment; or green power to focus on new issues of increasing global concern. While these all add constructively to the debate, they seem to capture only one or more particular aspects of a complex issue rather than its very essence.
My proposal for a better understanding of the changing nature of power and especially non-traditional ways of exercising it is to think of countries as relevant international managers rather than powers of some sort and degree. That is to say that a majority of Latin American countries, for instance, do not seek power status in their relations with the U.S. but rather recognition of their interests and a satisfactory accommodation. Drawing from the business literature, this approach stresses especially the importance of economic issues and emphasizes a preference for order, coordination, and predictability over change or dominance. Besides, this is compatible with the multitude of forums, issues, and actors at the international level. An international manager is not necessarily the only one or one of the few, but is of course a relevant one. The concept accommodates the presence of other managers, in global issues and/or in regional and sectorial ones. Rather than emerging, middle, second-tier or otherwise powers, we have would-be ‘international managers’, seeking for smooth and profitable interactions.
A final doubt about the grand picture of U.S.-Latin American relations catches my attention. Is the insistence by Long and others on forms of power and influence entirely justified to explain inter-American relations? The case studies of Operation Pan-Americana, the Panama Canal, NAFTA, and Plan Colombia are all about situations of desirable or actual cooperation. In all of them, the U.S. had a key interest in cooperation and ultimately defined the ways and pace for this to happen, even if with Latin American input. In this respect, the literature on cooperation, rather than that on power, may explain much about the political dynamics underpinning the case studies. For example, in both neorealist and more institutionalist IR theory on cooperation, this takes place if the hegemon is willing to bear a disproportionate share of the cooperation cost. This seems to fit the asymmetric case of U.S-Latin American relations. In this regard, I genuinely wonder if Long’s approach has any advantages, other than focusing on the self-contained weaker side, to explain the grand picture too rather than a portion of it.
Overall Latin America Confronts the United States is an excellent book not only because of its academic rigor and quite original focus and approach, but most of all because it makes the reader think deeply and widely about U.S.-Latin America relations and more broadly. It revives the diplomatic-history approach to international relations. This has at least three considerable advantages. First, the use of fresh oral material and interviews place the human factor, perception and action at the center of international relations without neglecting other explanations. Second, solid empirical research and archival material constitute a good basis for plausible political and theoretical analysis. Third, a multi-national and multi-level analysis broadens the scope of discussion and advances knowledge in the discipline. Finally, I very much appreciated the dedicatory statement to the late Robert Pastor and I am very glad to see how his scholarship and vision have left a valuable legacy in Tom Long’s work.
In an age in which the United States president denounces Mexican migrants as murderers and rapists, greater perspective on the nature of the relationship between the United States and its Latin American neighbours is clearly in order. Tom Long’s important volume, Latin America Confronts the United States, provides much-needed empirical evidence and analysis that challenges conventional wisdom about how this asymmetrical relationship operates. It is commonly believed that given the United States’ overwhelming military and economic advantages over the smaller Latin American states, it was able to achieve almost everything it wanted in the region. As Long recognizes, “the United States’ economy is more than 2.5 times larger than the combined product of all of Latin America and the Caribbean,” and U.S. military spending is ten times that of the rest of the hemisphere (1-2). Long displays convincingly, however, that although most Latin American states were not `mice that roared,’ even very small states were able at times to challenge, revise, or subvert U.S. policies in order to achieve outcomes more in line with their administrations’ own objectives.
Long’s study focuses not on the well-known but historically rare cases of Latin American defiance, like Juan Perón of Argentina, Fidel Castro of Cuba or Hugo Chávez of Venezuela. Instead, he chooses to focus on examples of events in which leaders attempted to gain influence over U.S. policy “within relationships characterized by general cooperation” (22). These cases, explored over four empirical chapters, are: the little-known episode of the diplomatic campaign by Brazilian President Juscelino Kubitschek in the late 1950s to promote greater U.S. support for Latin American development in Operação Pan-Americana (OPA), a precursor to the Alliance for Prosperity; the efforts of Panamanian President José Trujillo to gain greater control over the Panama Canal in the 1970s; the decision by Mexican President Carlos Salinas to negotiate a free trade agreement with the United States in the early 1990s, which resulted in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and finally the role of the Colombian government under President Andrés Pastrana from 1998 to 2001 to gain U.S. support for its fight against the FARC guerrillas, which resulted in Plan Colombia.
Long’s introductory chapter provides a useful discussion of competing analytical approaches to understanding the U.S.-Latin America relationship. His ultimate goal is to challenge the lack of attention to Latin American foreign policy in academic literature, and more broadly the tendency of much of International Relations theory to deny agency to small states. This project yields considerable insight into the nature of power and asymmetry in the international system. He astutely identifies the theoretical commonalities between two apparently contradictory positions that dominate the literature. The first approach he calls the `establishment school,’ which argues that the U.S. is, by and large, a benevolent actor, motivated primarily by the effort to exclude extraterritorial rivals from the Western hemisphere. In this view, Latin Americans largely benefit from the resulting stability, security, enhanced trade, and (eventually) democracy of U.S. involvement. The rival approach, which emerged in the 1980s and early 1990s, which he terms the `revisionist synthesis,’ often drew upon Latin American dependency theory, and argued that the U.S. government, allied with big business, worked systematically to economically dominate and Latin America. While these approaches differed fundamentally on the motivations and impact of U.S. foreign policy behaviour, they coincide in their view that the United States is able to achieve its objectives in a virtually unilateral fashion, and that Latin American states and peoples are either powerless victims or beneficiaries, depending on one’s perspective. Long notes that Latin American scholars are not surprisingly less prone to this “mononational” (10) approach, but Western scholars largely overlook their work.
Long offers instead what he calls an ‘internationalist approach’ to the study of U.S.-Latin American relations, “which argues that both the United States and Latin Americans should be treated as actors – though this does not imply that their actions carry equal causal weight” (11). Although he does not mention it, his approach shares some commonalities with neoliberal institutionalism, associated with Joseph Nye and Robert Keohane. Keohane argues that the smaller state often prevails in bargaining between large and small countries, offering the example of relations between Canada and the United States. This occurs, in his view, because small states are disproportionately affected by the outcome, and therefore are often willing to spend more resources and risk higher costs than the larger state. As well, he argues, more centralized and committed states are often able to prevail in negotiations, even if they are the weaker partner.
Long’s ‘internationalist’ approach also shares much in common with recent efforts in the field of International Political Economy (IPE) to ‘globalise’ the study of IPE. Various authors have challenged the traditional Eurocentrism of IPE analysis and provide rich accounts of alternative perspectives coming from the non-West. An excellent example is the recent book of Eric Helleiner, Forgotten Foundations of Bretton Woods, which, based on extensive archival research, displays the significant role played in the Bretton Woods conference by countries, especially Latin American states. In contrast, most IPE accounts focus almost exclusively on the role of the United States and the United Kingdom.
Long similarly supports his case with careful and detailed examination of archives in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Panama, and the United States, as well as elite interviews with some of the participants. These sources provide original insight into the events he depicts, and avoids the U.S.-centric methodology and viewpoints employed by many authors.
The fact that the leaders and administrations he examines largely shared U.S. ideologies and worldviews, however, ultimately makes it difficult to determine who won and who lost in these diplomatic engagements. Certainly there is no attempt to argue that Latin Americans as a whole benefited from the negotiated outcomes, although Long might have paid more attention to the costs associated with some of the diplomatic ‘accomplishments,’ such as Plan Colombia and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
His state-centric approach provides significant insight into some of the nuances of the decision-making processes, but underplays the significance of structural forces, such as the extreme inequalities of Latin American societies and the limitations of exclusionary and elitist decision-making. Considerable insight can still be drawn from more sophisticated versions of Latin American dependency theory, which did not simply blame the United States for all of Latin America’s woes, but rather analysed how these societies internalized aspects of the external environment and how historical patterns of dependency shaped class forces.
To take the example of the negotiation of NAFTA, it is true that NAFTA was not simply imposed upon a supine Mexico (and Canada). Long emphasizes that NAFTA was the result of the decision of Carlos Salinas to pursue this option as a result of the devastating impact of the debt crisis, and the lack of other obvious sources than the U.S. market for investment and trade. He supplements existing accounts of the negotiations with fascinating insights from Mexican archives and interviews. For example, his research shows that the Mexican negotiators believed that neoliberal reforms were necessary with or without a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the U.S., but that the costs of reform could be minimized by including them as necessary trade-offs in the negotiations (151). Mexican leaders were acutely aware of the potential political costs of these highly unpopular reforms, particularly those in the agricultural sector that would undermine peasant production. NAFTA represented a victory for these liberalizing elites, in the sense that they were giving away protections for Mexican producers that they wanted to eliminate anyway. In the process, Mexican leaders were certainly agents, in that they successfully pursued a strategy that they had arrived at in a highly undemocratic fashion. But the idea that Mexico as a whole got a good deal (as President Donald Trump maintains) is less obvious.
In their excellent account of the NAFTA negotiations (which Long cites approvingly) Brian Tomlin and Maxwell Cameron argue against Keohane’s position. They maintain that beyond the obvious asymmetries in the parties’ positions, in fact Mexico’s negotiating posture was weakened because of its eagerness to make a deal. In addition, Mexico’s highly centralized and authoritarian political system meant that negotiators could not convincingly claim that they could not give in to U.S. demands because of domestic pressure. In contrast, the United States, because of its more decentralized system and the power of Congress in trade policy, could take a stronger negotiating posture than both of its more counterparts.
Moreover, it is important to take into account the multiple ways in which U.S. influence was internalized within the Mexican state and society in this period. The debt crisis which precipitated the Mexican turnaround on the economic policy and relations with the United States was itself largely the result of the policies of the U.S. and other Western actors, and those same actors imposed tough conditions on debtor states like Mexico that constrained their choices considerably. And U.S. power was not just structural but also ideational. Salinas and those technocrats who surrounded him who opted to pursue an FTA had all been trained in the United States and had absorbed the economic philosophies of elite U.S. economics departments. Over twenty years later, the country faces high levels of poverty, inequality, violence, and corruption, as well as higher levels of dependence on the U.S. market – which make Trump’s threats against Mexico so dangerous. Mexican leaders made these decisions, but it is hard to view the outcome as a clear victory for the Mexican people.
Long’s ‘internationalist approach’ provides an important antidote to the simplistic accounts offered by both establishment and revisionist schools of thought on U.S.-Latin American relations. And recognition of the agency of Latin American leaders is essential in order for democratic publics to hold them to account for any mistakes they make. This volume represents a valuable contribution to the project of rethinking the relations between the powerful and the less powerful within a rapidly changing global order.
U.S.-Latin American relations have long been an interdisciplinary field in which International Relations (IR) scholars, political scientists, and historians have contributed differently to the existing scholarship. Although it is often assumed that this field has a certain autonomy as such, some of the most important controversies in U.S.-Latin American relations have emerged from these distinctive disciplinary approaches. It seems hard to make a case for a contribution to the field that engages with such a diverse and broad body of scholarship altogether. Tom Long’s Latin America Confronts the United States is a timely and remarkable contribution in that it offers a good and encompassed synthesis of the many limitations of the existing literature, emphasizing the importance of exploring and uncovering Latin American agency in U.S.-Latin American relations. Long is perfectly aware that this is a complex interdisciplinary field, and thus addresses this question unambiguously to the extent that the book speaks to this diverse set of sub-disciplines. As such, it is destined to have an important influence among IR scholars primarily, but also among diplomatic and international historians and political and social scientists alike.
Offering a good account and synthesis of the historiography does not always lead to an original contribution to the field. Latin America Confronts the United States is an exception to this general tendency, offering a convincing account, which shows the great limitations of the existing dominant approaches, and it argues that Latin America could exert influence over U.S. policies in the context of an asymmetrical relationship. This argument is at the core of Long´s important study. The book frames and divides the existing scholarship in three schools, the establishment, the revisionist and the internationalist one, emphasizing the commonalities and weaknesses of the two former ones, privileging both U.S. policies and their effects in Latin America, thus dismissing the agency of Latin American states. Whereas Samuel Flagg Bemis’s classical and foundational study, The Latin American Policy of the United States (1943), could be considered as an epitome of the establishment school, Beneath the United States (1998) by Lars Schoultz is certainly a good example of the revisionist one. Long accurately positions his own contribution within the internationalist school, rejecting dominant realist interpretative frameworks, and informing establishment and revisionist approaches, which tend to focus exclusively on the overwhelming influence of U.S. power and its policies towards Latin America, thereby providing very little scope for Latin American agency, influence and autonomy.
Although the author is not always explicit about his contribution to broader IR and historical debates within and beyond the field of U.S.-Latin American relations, the book fits in nicely within three new trends in IR scholarship and international history. First, Long´s careful attention to weaker state action and the capacity of influence in the international arena is consistent with a new body of IR scholarship that began to look at IR from the South, in an attempt to decenter dominant IR narratives about the evolution of international society. Second, it seeks to reverse dominant U.S.-led narratives in U.S.-Latin American relations, stressing the extent to which Latin American agency has been crucial to the evolution of inter-American relations in the twentieth and twentieth-first century. Third, what Long defines as the internationalist approach is connected to the global and international turn in U.S.-Latin American relations and the impact of global history and transnational interactive approaches to the study of inter-American and historical international relations more broadly. The underlying assumption of the internationalist school is that inter-American relations have to be explored, examining the interaction between U.S. and Latin American actors on an equal basis, departing from realist approaches, which emphasize the overwhelming presence of U.S. dominance and superiority in defining Latin American foreign relations. Long makes a powerful case to show how “Latin American leaders can influence U.S. policies” (12). In short, this book makes a broad contribution to a number of current inter-connected and interdisciplinary scholarly debates.
Although the title of the book is catchy and effective, Latin America Confronts the United States is not entirely consistent and expressive of the approach pursued by Long. In fact, the author also uses alternatively the word “resist” (14). Rather, the subtitle, Asymmetry and Influence, is more illustrative of the objectives and perspective offered in this book. More importantly, the book presents four case studies in which Latin American states were able to influence U.S. foreign policy through cooperative, rather than confrontational, oppositional attitudes or any strategy of resisting U.S. policies. As Long himself makes clear in the introduction, “by focusing on the dynamics of broadly cooperative relationships, I explore the options available to those Latin American leaders” (23). Therefore, it is worth being clearer about this matter and stressing to readers then that this is not a book about Latin American confrontation, resistance, or even opposition to the United States, but rather about how in instances of asymmetry through strategies of cooperation Latin American states were effective in finding opportunities to influence U.S. policies and “exercise foreign policy power” (222). In other words, Long focuses exclusively on cooperative influence, despite the fact that the main title promises to provide a discussion of confrontational forms of influence. This could have been an interesting additional dimension to be included in this study in that any reader of the book might wonder if Long is making a derivative argument here, according to which Latin American states in an asymmetrical relationship could only influence U.S. policies through strategies of cooperation. In other words, what could Latin American states expect from alternative strategies of confrontation and resistance? Would that have been a failure? This implicit claim is important, since it has normative and political implications, namely that Latin American nations should not confront or resist the United States if they seek to have an influence on its policies. Do we have to consider Latin American anti-imperialist strategies as a complete a failure then? This book does not address this important question, but seemingly suggests that they were a failure.
Yet in an important and innovative article, coauthored with Max Paul Friedman, Long argued that Latin American opposition to U.S. interventionism created grounds for a process of “soft balancing” in U.S.-Latin American relations from 1898 to 1936. The Latin American quest for advancing international law and continental institutions contributed to resisting and redefining U.S. interventions and promoting instead non-intervention as a continental principle. This article presents a very different case, in which resistance and opposition were key not just to influence U.S. policies, but also to transform them. In contrast to the four case studies offered in the book, which cover essentially the Cold War period to the post-Cold War and deal with situations of influence through cooperation, this was a real case of successful confrontation and of Latin American success in promoting and institutionalizing non-intervention in the Montevideo (1933) and Buenos Aires Conferences (1936) between the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century, a time when the U.S. advanced imperial and hegemonic policies in Latin America. By contrast, the only case explored in Long´s book that involved a certain degree of confrontation is the Panama Canal, examined in chapter 3. The Canal question led to situations of violence and confrontation throughout the resolution and negotiation process between the U.S. and Panama. The Panama Canal is not examined as a long-standing question that was motivated by U.S. imperial aspirations and policies in Latin America in the early twentieth century. The fact that the origins and legacy of this controversy had imperial motivations in its roots does not seem to matter to the author when tracing how this controversy was finally settled.
Similarly, for instance, in the case study about Operation Pan-Americana, the author does not explore nor discuss critically the legacy of Pan-Americanism in the formulation of this Brazilian initiative of Operation Pan-America. This is unfortunate, especially since the Brazilian case is critical as one of the most devoted collaborators in the early stages of the U.S.-led continental policy of Pan-Americanism, a U.S.-led foreign policy initiative and movement originally formulated by U.S. Secretary of States James Blaine in the 1880s. Given that there is an extensive bibliography about Pan-Americanism and its reverberations, historicizing and tracing its evolution would have shed more light on Operation Pan-America as such, in terms of its relation to this previous and foundational U.S.-led policy in the Americas. These two questions, the Panama Canal and Pan-Americanism, have in their origins imperial and hegemonic implications and thus merit examination with a critical interpretative framework that takes into account the starting point that set the foundations and legacy of the controversy and negotiation, namely imperial expropriation and hegemonic aspirations on the continent. If these cases are explored as situations of asymmetry in which Latin America only influences the U.S. through cooperation, rather than long-standing issues embedded of geopolitical and imperial anxieties and policies and long-lasting legacies, it seems hard to assess critically whether the mechanisms deployed by Latin American leaders proved to be successful. If imperialism and hegemony were implicated and some Latin Americans sought to dismantle them, cooperative strategies were not the only option available and they could also have certain limitations for transforming the status quo in circumstances of strong domination, such as the case of the Panama Canal. In short, confrontation and U.S. imperial and hegemonic policies in Latin America, such as Pan-Americanism and even the construction of the Panama Canal and their imperial and hegemonic legacies, are somehow overlooked in Long´s important study, or at least are not examined as imperial or hegemonic aspects of U.S.-Latin American relations.
Long is certainly explicit about his own approach to the question of U.S. imperialism and hegemony in Latin America in that he rejects this category. This rejection is at the core of Long´s perspective, for empire and imperialism, so follows his argument, presents U.S. power as “successful in getting its way more often than not” (8). Long´s claim is certainly controversial. He concludes that “to call the United States an empire in Latin America risks denying Latin Americans’ autonomy and agency” (8). Scholars in IR and history who adopt and propose critical interpretative perspectives might wonder why using the word empire leads to dismissing autonomy and agency. If many Latin American intellectuals defined themselves and some of their political movements in certain historical circumstances as anti-imperialist, notably in the context of Alianza Popular Revolucionaria Americana (APRA) and the Mexican Revolution and especially in the first half of the twentieth century but also in the early Cold War period following the Cuban Revolution, is because they believed that U.S. imperialism could be reversed and successfully resisted and confronted, and thus they sought indeed to build organizations of resistance to dismantle U.S. imperialism. This is part of a story that is within the scope of Long´s study, but it is outside his main concerns. Long´s study focuses instead on the Cold War and post-Cold War period and the imperial and hegemonic expansion of the United States over Latin America from 1898 to 1936 is outside the scope of this book. Still, readers might wonder if these early imperial and anti-imperial strategies contributed to creating a different type of interaction between the U.S. and Latin America in an early stage and whether this created an imperial or hegemonic legacy. An important body of legal, cultural, intellectual, global, and hemispheric approaches to inter-American relations have shown that those tensions created instances for other forms of interaction in which Latin American leaders, politicians, intellectuals, and popular organizations created grounds to affect U.S. policies through forms of resistance, confrontation, and even opposition to U.S. interventionist policies. Imperialism and domination do not necessarily limit the scope for agency, at least if agency is conceived in a broad and pluralistic sense, involving confrontation and resistance, and there is always ground for ‘informal imperialism,’ which does not involve colonial influence or formal control.
A few comments remain to be made about the selection of the four case studies and the overall perspective and method adopted in this book. Long´s groundbreaking study has selected four illustrative cases about the evolution of U.S.-Latin American relations from the early Cold War to the post-Cold War era: Operation Pan-America, the Panama Canal, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and Plan Colombia. Some of them could be seen as watershed moments in the redefinition of U.S.-Latin American relations, especially Operation Pan-America in the Cold War and NAFTA as a transition from the Cold War to the post-Cold War era. One of the most interesting insights into these cases is that Long convincingly shows that the cases of Operation Pan-America and the Panama Canal allowed and created conditions for Latin American leaders to make use of international institutions, such as the United Nation and the Organization of American States. Moreover, the book covers two cases in which the United States was initially supportive of Latin American initiatives and two in which the former opposed the projects of the latter. However, two of the case studies selected by Long, NAFTA and Plan Colombia, are generally regarded as negotiations in which Latin American nations tended to subscribe to U.S. preferences and its agenda and thus there was a limited scope for agency and especially for transforming U.S. foreign policy agenda. Although Long shows that this was not the case for NAFTA and Plan Colombia, these case studies do not seem to be strong examples of Latin American autonomy for defining the course of events and transforming the overwhelming power of the United States in the definition of a continental agenda for the Americas. All in all, the book offers an in-depth analysis of how Latin American policy makers defined and pursued their interests in order to achieve certain goals and outcomes. Long demonstrates persuasively that Latin American leaders had an important ground for agency.
In certain moments, the prose reads somewhat schematically and slightly overstated to the extent that certain claims could sound redundant to scholars of U.S.-Latin American relations in the twenty-first century. For instance, Long concludes: “Above all, the demonstrated influence of Latin American leaders means that studying U.S. policy is not a sufficient proxy for understanding U.S.-Latin American relations” (235). Studying carefully the role of Latin American leaders for understanding U.S.-Latin American relations need to be at least considered as a standard, if not elemental, assumption.
Finally, perhaps one more concrete and specific contribution of the book to the broader field of IR is that it shows accurately and convincingly that the role of weaker and non-great powers in international relations is crucial for understanding the dynamics of international society in the Western Hemisphere. Latin America Confronts the United States is a groundbreaking study and contribution to an emerging scholarship that seeks to globalize international relations by examining it through the lens of the South, the so-called Third World, and the perspective of weaker nations.
First, I would like to thank Thomas Maddux and H-Diplo for organizing this roundtable on my first book, Latin America Confronts the United States. It is an honor to receive this level of critical engagement from four established scholars in the subjects of international relations, international political economy, and international history of the Americas: Richard Feinberg, Laura Macdonald, Juan Pablo Scarfi, and Gian Luca Gardini. Thanks, too, to Dustin Walcher for his introduction, and to Diane Labrosse for her helpful editing. I appreciate the thoroughness of the preceding reviews, as well as their constructive nature. They have underscored the contributions I sought to make with the book, as well as casting light upon its imperfections and voids. In doing so, they illuminate new directions for study.
In this reply, I would like to highlight several areas raised by the reviewers, which gives me an opportunity to reiterate, clarify, and expand upon the major arguments of my book—with two years of post-publication hindsight. Many of the contributors’ points raise questions about my treatment of cooperative versus conflictual relations between the United States and Latin America; theoretical contributions around agency to both international relations (IR) theory and to the understanding of my cases; and the relations of state and society in understanding this agency. Finally, I will close with some reflections on the challenges of interdisciplinary work, which emerged from the comments of several reviewers. But first, I would underscore Gardini’s “call to those interested in a comprehensive project on the history of inter-American relations from an internationalist perspective,” and answer it in the affirmative. I hope the comments below begin a fruitful discussion—which I see as inherently involving IR and history—about how we may undertake such an ambitious task. I return to this point below.
Cooperation, competition, and conflict in U.S.-Latin American relations
As the reviewers note, the book’s four cases eschew predominantly conflictual relations, by which I mean those characterized by coercion. In that sense, the cases are cooperative, in that the alignment of interests is seen as feasible, even if it is not always realized. I treat interests as constructed, instead of exogenously determined as some schools of IR do, and therefore explore the definition of interests empirically in each case. Feinberg notes that in the case studies, “the perceived interests of Latin America and of U.S. elites are sufficiently compatible such that smart, flexible negotiators can find common ground around mutual interests.” That is true, but it is no guarantee that common ground will be found, particularly in highly asymmetrical relationships. Overt coercion was not a primary instrument, but one should not assume that power disparities and the possibility of coercion did not cast a shadow.
Scarfi, in particular, challenges the book’s focus on cooperative relations, asking whether by examining cooperative outcomes, I imply that “Latin American states in an asymmetrical relationship could only influence U.S. policies through strategies of cooperation.” Citing an article I co-authored with Max Paul Friedman about more conflictual Latin American strategies, Scarfi asks whether cooperation or conflict is the more productive path of engagement with the United States. This choice will result both from the conditions produced by U.S. actions (is it threatening or receptive?) as well as from the nature of the Latin American leaders’ goals. Friedman and I argued that Latin American states responded to U.S. imperialism with soft balancing. That may seem like a conflictual strategy, but it is worth noting that it was not done in a wholly uncooperative manner. Soft balancing made use of U.S-backed institutions and even domestic lobby groups. It was done not just in opposition to U.S. interests, but was meant to (and did) alter the construction of U.S. interests. Conversely, even in seemingly cooperative negotiations, a weaker party might threaten non-cooperative or conflictual behavior in an attempt to spur concessions; some variant of this occurred in all the book’s cases, though this threat was not always seen as credible. The cooperation/conflict difference is better captured by a spectrum than a dichotomy. Still, the question of what triggers a soft balancing or other more conflictual response, and what conditions produce more cooperative interaction, is a good one. Combining the findings of the book and the article with Friedman, I would suggest that increased U.S. displays of unilateralism and militarization are likely to trigger balancing and close cooperative avenues. Under a pure version of those circumstances, Scarfi is right that conflictual or anti-imperial policies may more effectively advance a state’s goals or enhance its autonomy because ostensibly cooperative strategies would result in acquiescence as opposed to bargaining. That open conflict has not been the norm may suggest that most Latin American leaders have found cooperative strategies to more effective, or found the costs of conflict to be too high.
Scarfi notes that the word “confronts” in the book’s title is perhaps ill-suited to the cases. Other than noting that a book title may not always reflect a first-time author’s initial suggestion, I would defend the verb by emphasizing its meaning as being faced with, as opposed to necessarily being in conflict with. The book is very much about how Latin American leaders adjust when faced with a much more powerful northern neighbor.
On the other hand, Gardini, while not challenging the focus on cooperative cases, questions the focus on power: “In this respect, the literature on cooperation, rather than that on power, may explain much about the political dynamics underpinning the case studies.” In this sense, I do not disagree that the focus on cooperation is important (nor do I disagree with Macdonald’s placing my roots near the 1970s work of Keohane and Nye). I find Gardini’s suggestion of conceptualizing states as “managers” instead of clashing powers an intriguing one that is worthy of further exploration. However, I would worry about taking power too much out of the equation. Even in cooperative negotiations, power—though perhaps not always not aggregate material power—is likely to shape the distribution of benefits.
Accepting the cooperative spectrum of cases, one still might question whether Latin American leaders were autonomous actors in a meaningful way. Macdonald writes that, “The fact that the leaders and administrations [Long] examines largely shared U.S. ideologies and worldviews, however, ultimately makes it difficult to determine who won and who lost in these diplomatic engagements.” This might be true in zero-sum situations, but zero-sum situations have been outliers (even if important ones) in U.S.-Latin American relations. Although leaders share important aspects of the U.S. worldview, they may have arrived at it independently or for their own reasons. Brazilian foreign policy before President Juscelino Kubitschek offers a good example: Brazilian foreign-policy elites initiated a policy of overlapping interests with the United States well before the apex of U.S. power, and not because they were steeped in U.S. culture or had U.S. educations. They saw the U.S. as useful for limiting European incursions, balancing neighbors, and as a market for their products. If leaders perceive interests as being aligned—or more to the point, ‘align-able’—it minimizes the question of winning and losing. Both sides can win or lose, even if the gains are not evenly shared. That attitude characterized Operation Pan-America (OPA), the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and Plan Colombia. It eventually came to characterize the Panama Canal negotiations, too. That is not to say that it represents the entire universe of cases in U.S.-Latin American relations. It does not. But I would suggest it represents a substantial portion of that universe. Stark asymmetry may make ameliorate the relative gains problem if the weaker actor is not trying to catch up to the larger state’s aggregate material capabilities.
Agency in inter-American relations and IR theory
Questions of agency are, perhaps inevitably, mixed up with contested concepts of power and influence. This is particularly true in IR. Classic definitions of relational power tend to highlight that an actor has power to the extent that it can make another do something that it would not otherwise do. That approach to power implies conflict: with two forces in opposition, which one triumphs? However, it may equally be the case that instead of dealing with forces in opposition, actor A shakes actor B from its inertia to spur behaviors of mutual gain. Here there is no inherent conflict, but there is agency and influence, especially when A may shape the direction B’s subsequent actions.
The book’s key claims focus on the possibilities for agency by Latin American leaders in their relations with the United States—an effort in which I am hardly alone in recent scholarship. Despite the general welcome of efforts to document, explain, and understand Latin American agency, Gardini asks what this effort brings beyond empirical richness: “However, one may wonder how novel the findings of this effort are.” Does the focus lead to a different understanding of the cases? I think it does. While it is true that drugs and concerns about regional security made Plan Colombia important in Washington, it matters a great deal to our understanding of that policy whether it was conceived and planned in Washington and then foisted upon Bogota or whether it aligned to the goals and interests of Colombian leaders as they perceived them (a word on whose interests were advanced within the countries below). Colombian goals emerged from a position of relative material weakness, but they were reflected in the pulling and hauling over policy. In Panama, reaffirming that President Jimmy Carter was central for the conclusion of the treaties and their ratification in the U.S. Senate does not answer the question of why Carter decided to tackle that particular issue at the beginning of his term. To understand that, we need to examine a decade of Panamanian agenda-setting. All of this, as Gardini notes, suggests a different approach to both power and agency, wherein the power to align interests is examined alongside the butting of heads.
State and society: Who gains from international agency?
Several of the reviewers note that the book’s focus on states and their leaders largely ignores the question of whose interests and ideas those leaders represent, or who gained from their actions. As Macdonald notes, “Long might have paid more attention to the costs associated with some of the diplomatic ‘accomplishments,” particularly questioning the effects of NAFTA on Mexico. Feinberg writes, “Revisionist scholars might suggest that the agency that Long observes is less that of the nation as a whole than of narrower interest groups or socio-economic classes.” I would not disagree that the focus on foreign policy leaders may fail to reflect societal interests; however, in a foreign policy context, I find the alternatives to be more methodologically troubling. As this book approaches it, the ‘national interest’ is constructed by groups who have the power and interest to make their influence felt. Those will usually be narrower groups, and privileged ones at that.
Cooperative policies of deeper engagement with the United States have re-distributional effects. However, we should not assume that status-quo policies or diplomatic stances based on traditional, arm’s length principles of nonintervention and hard sovereignty are somehow natural or more reflective of an objective public good. These, too, protect certain (elite) interests. Cooperative and conflictual policies can be, and have been, adopted by democratic and undemocratic regimes, and it is rarely clear what the public ‘wants’ in a particular foreign policy. Though it is not exactly what Macdonald or Feinberg suggests, a study that adjudicates policies based on a researcher’s own interpretation of the ‘true’ national interest would seem to risk a great deal of arbitrariness. The book’s judgment is that it is better to assess the national interest as it was constructed and articulated by those in power—without illusions that it was necessarily reflective of majoritarian interests. While the book might have included evaluative sections on each of these policies, ultimately I decided this would repeat debates in the existing literature, while also shifting the study from the decision-making process to a post hoc evaluation of its consequences.
The two more recent cases highlight the difficulties of another approach. Macdonald argues that “Mexican leaders made these decisions [regarding NAFTA], but it is hard to view the outcome as a clear victory for the Mexican people.” It is certainly true that NAFTA privileged certain sectors of the Mexican population. It is equally true that NAFTA was no panacea for low wages, governance failures, democratic deficits, impunity, or organized crime. However, it is not clear that Mexico’s pre-accession to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), pre-NAFTA economic and political model, or its pre-NAFTA relationship with the United States, was more reflective of popular interests or sentiments, or more effective in addressing Mexico’s problems. Statist economic policies and traditional reticence toward the United States also advanced particular sets of elite interests—something that is clear in the decades of defense of the policy by the anti-democratic Mexican Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI), in part to justify its own hegemony. Despite its failings, NAFTA now enjoys support from 60 percent of the population, according to recent Pew surveys, and is being defended against President Donald Trump’s assault by a large spectrum of the Mexican polity. Regarding Plan Colombia, there is no doubt that the policy of the ‘war on drugs’ has failed to stem violence or halt the flow of drugs. Rights abuses and atrocities were, and are, committed under the rubric of a militarized response to drug production, organized crime, and internal conflict. Was the policy ‘victory’ for the Colombian people? I might highlight these failings and say no, but the overwhelming and repeated support for President Álvaro Uribe would put my own assessment of the costs and benefits of Plan Colombia at odds with the choices of the Colombian electorate. Certainly, we must continue to evaluate and study the effects of these policies, but when the question is defining what counts as the national interest, I chose to focus on the goals advanced by Latin American leaders, with no claim that those elites represent the best interests of their nations.
History of the international and international history
When asked if I am an IR scholar or an historian, I sometimes joke that I do both—badly. Certainly working at the intersection of disciplines presents a challenge: what may seem obvious to scholars based in one might be more novel to scholars in the other. These challenges are familiar to many of the readers of this forum, as well as to the excellent reviewers, who themselves have engaged in disciplinary trespassing. First, I want to respond to a few issues that emerged in the book from working at this intersection. Secondly, I want to respond to Gardini’s call with a few ideas about how we might embark upon the project he suggests.
One particular challenge surrounds how to best contextualize cases. Scarfi suggests that the cases at times needed greater attention to background, and in particular to the ways in which they were shaped by histories of U.S. imperialism. Scarfi writes of my Panama Canal case that, “The fact that the origins and legacy of this controversy had imperial motivations in its roots does not seem to matter to the author when tracing how this controversy was finally settled.” I disagree with his assessment. In the case’s background, I highlight how the history of the canal dispute was rooted in questions of asymmetry and a history of coercion. That asymmetry and history continued to cast a shadow, and as I discuss, the Panamanian negotiators repeatedly referred to that history to show the justice of their cause. I raise this not to dispute one point of critique, but to illustrate the challenge. To some extent, ‘asymmetry’ is meant to do some of the work that Scarfi suggests, though perhaps it required more explicit conceptualization. I do not see asymmetry simply as the contemporaneous expression of material disparities. Asymmetries develop over time, and shape “the aspirations of weaker states” (222). These include historical experience, such as U.S. imperialism in the creation of the Panama Canal, and these antecedents are ultimately crucial for understanding the construction of interests. Likewise, Kubitschek’s choice of the label “Pan America” was clearly meant to evoke certain claims on the U.S. through recourse to what I call in forthcoming work, ‘shared historical antecedents of regionalism.’
This brings me to Gardini’s call for “a comprehensive project on the history of inter-American relations from an internationalist perspective.” He notes that this project would pose major conceptual and methodological challenges, particularly surrounding how cases are selected and whose interests, perceptions, and actions are examined in those. Focusing on the United States has been a convenient way to answer these questions—we examine the cases that mattered to the United States and for reasons of theory or convenience privilege the records of its words and actions.
How might we identify important episodes in this comprehensive international history? Borrowing a page from historical institutionalism, we might start by asking, what were the ‘critical junctures’ for international relations in the Americas? Where did the direction of hemispheric politics markedly change, or where might it have changed? In these moments, we could ‘expand time’ for close examination of multiple actors. Many of these moments, but not all, might have been of special relevance to the United States. What were the moments that ensconced principles of non-intervention as a cornerstone of many Latin American foreign policies? Much later, what led Brazil and Argentina toward rapprochement? And, yes, how should we understand the multifaceted impacts of critical junctures around the years of 1898, 1945, and 1989? After these critical junctures, how were patterns of action replicated and norms and practices embedded, or how did they slowly drift and evolve? What interests and identities were constructed, how were they institutionalized, and what led them to endure or erode? Of course, there will be not unanimous agreement on what those moments were, but trying to identify them would launch a fruitful discussion. Exploring how these junctures are temporally and spatially connected would provide a balance of specificity and context that a synthetic, internationalist history would demand.
In the present conjuncture, is it true, as Feinberg suggests, that my findings of Latin American agency give ammunition to Trump and his arguments that the U.S. has gotten a rotten deal in its dealings with Mexico, Cuba, and other Latin American states? I certainly cast doubt on whether previous arrangements are fairly understood as U.S. impositions, but more than that, the book shows that long-term U.S. interests are best advanced through policies of partnership instead of against a backdrop of bullying. The U.S. did not accept deals that it perceived as against its interests, nor were its negotiators hoodwinked by clever opponents or blinded by naiveté. In Operation Pan-America, the Eisenhower administration came to see the costs of supporting friendly dictators—a lesson that U.S. policymakers seem intent on relearning the hard way cyclically and across the world. In Panama, the Canal had become a political, fiscal, and security burden even as it remained a potent symbol for foreign and domestic constituencies. It is true that freer trade with Mexico was no stretch for the George H.W. Bush administration, but Mexican initiative helped blunt the hegemonic impulse and create a more beneficial relationship. Trump seems determined to relearn that lesson the hard way, too, as bullying Mexico will undermine long-term economic and strategic gains.
Finally, as Gardini and Feinberg note, this book was a project that started under the direction of the late Robert Pastor. That they see his influence there is, to me, the highest compliment. If I have, as Gardini says, made “the reader think deeply and widely about U.S.-Latin America relations and more broadly,” then I think my mentor would have approved.
 For an outstanding recent example, see Bevan Sewell, The US and Latin America: Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Economic Diplomacy in the Cold War (London: I.B. Tauris, 2015).
 I made this argument in my review of Vanni Pettinà, “Global Horizons: Mexico, the Third World, and the Non-Aligned Movement at the Time of the 1961 Belgrade Conference,” The International History Review, 38:4 (2016): 741-764. H-Diplo Article Review 689 (31 March 2017), https://networks.h-net.org/system/files/contributed-files/ar689.pdf. For a sample of the literature exemplifying this point, see Tanya Harmer, Allende’s Chile and the Inter-American Cold War (Chappell Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2011); Renata Keller, Mexico’s Cold War: Cuba, the United States, and the Legacy of the Mexican Revolution (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015); Alan McPherson, The Invaded: How Latin Americans and their Allies Fought and Ended U.S. Occupations (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014); Greg Grandin, The Last Colonial Massacre: Latin America in the Cold War, 2nd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011); Gilbert M. Joseph and Daniela Spenser, eds., In From the Cold: Latin America’s New Encounter with the Cold War (Durham: Duke University Press, 2010); Greg Grandin and Gilbert M. Joseph, eds., A Century of Revolution: Insurgent and Counterinsurgent Violence During Latin America’s Long Cold War (Durham: Duke University Press, 2010); Hal Brands, Latin America’s Cold War (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2010); Kyle Longley, The Sparrow and the Hawk: Costa Rica and the United States during the Rise of José Figueres (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1997); María Emilia Paz, Strategy, Security, and Spies: Mexico and the U.S. as Allies in World War II (University Park: Penn State University Press, 1997); Mary Renda, Taking Haiti: Military Occupation and the Culture of U.S. Imperialism, 1915-1940 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001); Gilbert M. Joseph, Catherine C. LeGrande, and Ricardo D. Salvatore, eds., Close Encounters of Empire: Writing the Cultural History of U.S.-Latin American Relations (Durham: Duke University Press, 1998). See also, Andrew J. Kirkendall, “Cold War Latin America: The State of the Field.” H-Diplo/ISSF Essay 119 (14 November 2014), http://issforum.org/essays/PDF/E119.pdf. These authors fall at different points on Long’s ‘establishment’ to ‘revisionist’ spectrum with respect to the relative merits of U.S. policy, and utilize various historical methodologies, but all can claim to be ‘internationalist’ in their scholarship.
 Graham Allison, Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis (New York: Little, Brown, and Co., 1971).
 Robert A. Pastor, Exiting the Whirlpool: U.S. Foreign Policy toward Latin America and the Caribbean (Princeton University Press, 1992; rev. ed., 2001).
 Russell Crandall, The United States and Latin America after the Cold War (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008).
 Stanley Hoffmann, “An American Social Science: International Relations”, Daedalus 106:3 (1977): 41-60. Steve Smith, “The United States and the Discipline of International Relations: Hegemonic Country, Hegemonic Discipline”, International Studies Review 4:2 (2002): 67-85. Howard J. Wiarda, Culture and Foreign Policy: The Neglected Factor in International Relations (New York: Routledge, 2016).
 Hal Brands, Latin America’s Cold War (Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press, 2010).
 Crandall, The United States and Latin America after the Cold War.
 Daniel Flemes and Steve Lobell. (eds.), “Special Issue: Regional Contestation to Rising Powers,” International Politics 52:2 (2015): 139-268.; Gian Luca Gardini, ed., “Special Issue: Latin American Responses to the rise of Brazil,” Bulletin of Latin American Research 35:1 (2016): 3-92; T.V. Paul, “Soft Balancing in the Age of US Primacy,” International Security 30:1 (2005): 46-71. More broadly on Latin American foreign policies, also with regard to the U.S.: Gian Luca Gardini and Peter W. Lambert, eds., Latin American Foreign Policies: Between Ideology and Pragmatism (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2011).
 Gian Luca Gardini, “Latin America’s Foreign Policies between Pragmatism and Ideology: A Framework for Analysis”; in Gardini and Lambert, eds., Latin American Foreign Policies, 13-33.
 Amrita Narlikar, New Powers. How to become one and How to Manage Them (New York: Columbia University Press, 2010).
 Amitai Etzioni, “The Domestic Sources of Global Adhocracy”. Social Change Review 10:2 (2012): 99-124.
 Babette Never, “Toward the Green Economy: Assessing Countries’ Green Power”, GIGA Working Paper 226 (Hamburg: German Institute of Global and Area Studies, 2013).
 Gian Luca Gardini, “Brazil: what rise of what power?”, Bulletin of Latin American Research 35:1 (2016): 5-19.
 Joseph M. Grieco, “Anarchy and the Limits of Cooperation: A Realist Critique of the Newest Liberal Institutionalism,” International Organization 42:3 (1988): 485-507; Robert O. Keohane, “The Theory of Hegemonic Stability and Changes in International Economic Regimes, 1967-1977,” in Ole R. Holsti, Raldolph Siverson and George Alexander, eds., Change in the International System (Boulder: Westview Press, 1980), 131-162.
 Examples of this approach include: Peter Hakim, “Is Washington Losing Latin America?,” Foreign Affairs 85:1 (2006); Russell Crandall, The United States and Latin America after the Cold War (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008); Abraham F. Lowenthal, Theodore J. Piccone, and Laurence Whitehead, The Obama Administration and the Americas: Agenda for Change (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2009).
 Examples include: Walter LaFeber, The New Empire: an Interpretation of American Expansion, 1860-1898 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1963); Walter LaFeber, Inevitable Revolutions: The United States in Central America (New York: W.W. Norton, 1983); Greg Grandon, Empire’s Workshop: Latin America, the United States, and the Rise of the New Imperialism (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2006).
 Maxwell A. Cameron and Brian W. Tomlin, The Making of NAFTA: How the Deal was Done (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 2000), 229-230; See also Robert O. Keohane, “El concepto de interdependencia y el análisi de las relaciones asimétricas,” In Blanca Torres, ed., Interdepencia: Un enfoque útil para análisis de las relaciones México-Estados Unidos? Mexico City: Colegio de México; Robert O. Keohane and Joseph Nye. Power and Interdependence: World Politics in Transition (Boston: Little, Brown, 1977).
 See for example: Benjamin Cohen, Advanced Introduction to International Political Economy (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2013); Amitav Acharya, “Dialogue and discovery: in search of international relations theories beyond the west,” Millennium: Journal of International Studies 39:3 (2011): 619-637; John M. Hobson, “Part 1-Revealing the Eurocentric foundations of IPE: a critical historiography of the discipline from the classical to the modern era,” Review of International Political Economy 20:5 (2013): 1024-1054.
 Eric Helleiner. Forgotten foundations of Bretton Woods: International Development and the Making of the Postwar Order (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2014).
 The best example is probably Fernando Enrique Cardoso and Enzo Faletto, Dependency and Development in Latin America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1979).
 Maxwell A. Cameron and Brian W. Tomlin, The Making of NAFTA: How the Deal was Done (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 2000), 229-230.
 Sarah Babb, Managing Mexico: Economists from Nationalism to Neoliberalism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004).
 In a recent edited volume, Andrew Tillman and I made the case for the adoption of an interdisciplinary approach to the field and the need to integrate international relations, and global and diplomatic history. See Juan Pablo Scarfi and Andrew Tillman, “Cooperation and Hegemony in US-Latin American Relations: An Introduction,” in Cooperation and Hegemony in U.S.-Latin American Relations: Revisting the Western Hemisphere Idea, eds. Juan Pablo Scarfi and Andrew Tillman (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), 1-30. For historiographical assessments of the disciplinary differences between IR and historical contributions to U.S.-Latin American relations, see Charles Jones, “Another American Social Science: International Relations in the Western Hemisphere,” in Cooperation and Hegemony, ed. Scarfi and Tillman, 33-70, and Tanya Harmer, “Commonality, Specificity and Difference: Histories and Historiography of the Americas,” in Cooperation and Hegemony, ed. Scarfi and Tillman, 71-108.
 See Samuel Flagg Bemis, The Latin American Policy of the United States: An Historical Interpretation (New York: Norton,  1967) and Lars Schoultz, Beneath the United States: A History of U.S. Policy toward Latin America (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1998).
 On Third World and Southern (Latin American) approaches to IR, see, for example, Arlene B. Tickner, “Seeing IR Differently: Notes from the Third World,” Millennium 32:2 (2003): 295-324, Louise Fawcett, “Between West and non-West: Latin American Contributions to International Thought,” The International History Review 34:4 (2012): 679-704, and Carsten Schulz, “Civilisation, Barbarism and the Making of Latin America’s Place in 19th-Century International Society,” Millennium 42:3 (2014): 837-885.
 Max Paul Friedman and Tom Long, “Soft Balancing in the Americas: Latin American Opposition to U.S. Intervention, 1898-1936,” International Security 40:1 (2015): 120-156.
 On Pan-Americanism, see for instance, David Sheinin, ed., Beyond the Ideal: Pan Americanism in Inter-American Affairs (Westport: Praeger, 2000), Ricardo Salvatore, Disciplinary Conquest: U.S. Scholars in South America, 1900-1945 (Durham: Duke University Press, 2016), Mark Petersen, “The “Vanguard of Pan-Americanism”: Chile and Inter-American Multilateralism in the Early Twentieth Century,” in Cooperation and Hegemony, eds. Scarfi and Tillman, 111–137, and Juan Pablo Scarfi, “In the Name of the Americas: The Pan-American Redefinition of the Monroe Doctrine and the Emerging Language of American International Law in the Western Hemisphere, 1898-1933,” Diplomatic History 40:2 (2016): 189-218.
 I have made a case myself for advancing a hemispheric intellectual history of U.S.-Latin American relations, creating grounds for comparative analysis of U.S. imperialism and Latin American anti-imperialism through an interactive and interpretative empirical framework. The question of the inception of international law and its connections with empire in the Americas offers a critical case for comparative approaches. See Juan Pablo Scarfi, The Hidden History of International Law in the Americas: Empire and Legal Networks (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017), 175-192. The scholarship on Latin American anti-imperialism is extensive. See, for example, Nicola Miller, In the Shadow of the State: Intellectuals and the Quest for National Identity in Twentieth Century Spanish America (London: Verso, 1999), 174-209; Oscar Terán, “El primer anti- imperialismo latinoamericano,” in En busca de la ideología argentina (Buenos Aires: Catálogos, 1986), 85-97; Terán, “El espiritualismo y la creación del anti-imperialismo latinoamericano,” in Culturas imperiales: Experiencia y representación en América, Asia y África, ed. Ricardo Salvatore (Rosario: Beatriz Viterbo Editora, 2005), 301-314; Michael Goebel, Anti-Imperial Metropolis: Interwar Paris and the Seeds of Third World Nationalism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015); Alexanda Pita González and Carlos Marichal, eds., Pensar el antiimperialismo: Ensayos de historia intelectual latinoamericana (México: El Colegio de México, 2012); and Julio Ramos, “Hemispheric Domains: 1898 and the Origins of Latin Americanism,” Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies 10:3 (2001): 237-251.
 The concept of informal empire was coined by British historians John Gallagher and Ronald Robinson. For a historiographical discussion of the the broad concept of informal empire and informal empire in Latin America, see John Gallagher and Ronald Robinson, “The Imperialism of Free Trade,” The Economic History Review 6:1 (1953): 1-15, as well as Matthew Brown, ed., Informal Empire in Latin America: Culture, Commerce, and Capital (Oxford: Blackwell, 2008).
 The classic example is the realist formulation of ‘interests as power,’ without empirical reference to the situation of the state in question.
 Around the time of the publication of my book, some important work on asymmetry in IR has emerged, particularly Brantly Womack, Asymmetry and International Relationships (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2016).
 Max Paul Friedman and Tom Long, “Soft Balancing in the Americas: Latin American Opposition to U.S. Intervention, 1898–1936,” International Security 40:1 (2015).
 William Mark Habeeb, Power and Tactics in International Negotiation: How Weak Nations Bargain with Strong Nations (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1988).
 Christopher Darnton, Rivalry and Alliance Politics in Cold War Latin America (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014); Tanya Harmer, Allende’s Chile and the Inter-American Cold War (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2011); Renata Keller, Mexico’s Cold War: Cuba, the United States, and the Legacy of the Mexican Revolution (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015); Aragorn Storm Miller, Precarious Paths to Freedom: The United States, Venezuela, and the Latin American Cold War (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2016).
 Scarfi disagrees with my rendering of questions around “empire” and “imperialism.” However, I think some agreement might be clouded by differences in terminology. Though I reject calling Latin America part of U.S. ‘empire,’ I do not disagree that U.S. actions—particularly in the time period Scarfi highlights—could be described as ‘imperial’ or Latin American actions as ‘anti-imperial.’ To denote the region as part of an empire implies, to me, territoriality and lack of autonomous foreign policy. Where U.S. actions are meant to undermine these, they may be described as imperial.
 Giovanni Capoccia and R. Daniel Kelemen, “The Study of Critical Junctures: Theory, Narrative, and Counterfactuals in Historical Institutionalism,” World Politics 59:3 (2007), Orfeo Fioretos, International Politics and Institutions in Time (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017).
In this detailed and scholarly article, Mohammad Ayatollahi Tabaar is definitely on to something. He argues that those who captured and occupied the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979-1981 (the so-called “Moslem Student Followers of the Imam’s Line”) were responding to serious challenges from Iranian leftists. By their action, he argues, the occupiers were pre-empting the leftists’ anti-American rhetoric and undercutting their claims to be the standard-bearers of Ayatollah Khomeini’s campaign to end Iran’s ties to the United States.
The scholarly study of American foreign policy and international relations hasne (at least one?) important peculiarity that distinguishes it from many other forms of scholarly inquiry: a fairly high degree of intellectual exchange between social scientist and subject. Of course, zoologists interact with the animals they study, but the animals are not reading what the zoologists say about them and reacting accordingly. Nor do children tend to read child psychology texts, or the indigent subjects of socio-economic inequality keep up with political economy treatises.
The debate about American foreign policy has always divided along two dimensions. How close in or far out should America protect its security? And for what moral or political purpose does America exist and participate in world affairs?
‘Nationalists’ adopt the close-in approach to American security, generally confined to America’s borders and the western hemisphere. They dominated American foreign policy in the 1920s and 1930s. ‘Realists’ venture further out to anticipate and counter threats in distant regions–Europe, Asia and the Middle East–before they reach America’s shores. They formulated the containment doctrine during the Cold War, permanently stationing for the first time American forces in Europe and Asia. Both nationalists and realists focus on security, not the spread of human rights and democratic regimes. They accept the world as it is, not as they might wish it to be.
The Donald Trump administration seems to value change for its own sake. The new President appears intent on rethinking all foreign-policy rules and norms, from diplomatic protocols to staffing to relationships with traditional allies. The next four-to-eight years may prove to be a watershed for U.S. grand strategy, a challenge to fundamental assumptions that forces security experts to re-examine their most deeply held beliefs. Or, perhaps little will change. At the very least, the Trump administration will test the notion that U.S. foreign affairs are marked far more by consistency than by change.
In the first half year of the new Trump administration, United States-Russian relations sped through a series of phases only to end suspended basically where they were on Election Day, 8 November 2016—badly damaged, friction-laden, and immobile. Whatever muddled hopes Russian President Vladimir Putin and his entourage may have had for better times with Trump in the White House and whatever obscure intentions President Trump may have had of improving relations, the two sides remain mired in the new Cold War into which they had plunged in the last years of the Obama administration. Their leaders were like figures in straitjackets: the more they struggled, the more their straitjackets tightened. Straitjackets, it might be noted, of their own manufacture, although each was of a different design. Trump was hamstrung by a Congress angry over the Russians’ interference in the presidential election and the possibility that Trump’s people had helped them, and in any event, persuaded that he meant to ‘go soft’ on Putin. Putin’s constraints were self-imposed. Much as he may have wished to ‘normalize’ the U.S.-Russian relationship, his jaded view of what drives U.S. foreign policy left him unwilling or, worse, unable to do his part to make progress possible.
With one very important exception, and despite a number of rhetorical and stylistic differences, the Trump Administration’s approach to the Middle East is not substantially different from that of the Obama Administration. President Barack Obama prioritized the fight against Salafi jihadist groups (al-Qaeda, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria [ISIS], and their offshoots) above other regional goals, as does President Donald Trump. Both came to office evidencing a general reluctance to get involved in large-scale military actions, reflective of their common perception that the 2003 invasion of Iraq was a mistake, though in both cases they proved willing to use military force in the region. Both publicly committed their administrations to finding a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, though Obama’s efforts there failed and the first ventures by Trump do not look promising. While Trump criticized Obama during the 2016 campaign for ignoring the interests of traditional American allies in the region, it is hard to sustain the proposition that the Obama Administration substantially altered American policy toward Israel and Saudi Arabia and that the Trump Administration is thus ‘restoring’ past ties.
In a political climate characterized by daily claims of ‘fake news’ and ‘alternative facts,’ it is hard to think of a subject more relevant to our time than the American presidency and the politics of deceit. In his new book, John Schuessler demonstrates that the issue of deception and American foreign policy long predates the Trump era. Deceit on the Road to War examines three important case studies: Franklin’s Roosevelt’s maneuvering of the American people into support for the war in Europe, Lyndon Johnson’s deceitful efforts to justify greater American military involvement in North and South Vietnam, and George W. Bush’s overselling of the war in Iraq. Of course, not all cases of presidential deception are exactly the same and the results can also vary. Unlike Johnson and Bush, FDR’s use of deception was probably necessary given the situation he faced, and America’s victory in the war has subjected him to far less historical scrutiny than presidents whose deception ended in defeat.
“Identity matters for security outcomes”, writes Jarrod Hayes in this fascinating roundtable on his 2013 book, Constructing National Security. Is there anyone working on international security today who can possibly think otherwise? Even the most diehard rationalist must surely recognize the importance of identity to President Donald Trump’s worldview, and to how other states, whether allies or adversaries, are developing their security policies in response to Trump’s election. But how much does identity matter? And when does identity matter? These are thornier issues. In answering these questions, both Constructing National Security and the contributors to this roundtable offer much food for thought.