Regions and the Globe: A Spatial-Temporal Framework for Foreign Policy Analysis *

By Ramanzini, Haroldo; Vieira, Vinicius Rodrigues | Brazilian Political Science Review, September 1, 2017 | Go to article overview

Regions and the Globe: A Spatial-Temporal Framework for Foreign Policy Analysis *


Ramanzini, Haroldo, Vieira, Vinicius Rodrigues, Brazilian Political Science Review


The literature on regionalism and regionalization has already explored the impact of global factors upon patterns of regional integration and socialization among states. The post-Cold War world is made up of regions, as different traditions in International Relations contend (e.g.: BUZAN and WEAVER, 2003; HURRELL, 2007a; KATZENSTEIN, 2005; SOLINGEN, 1998). While the scholarship on regionalism has already clarified the linkages between state-led integration and their spillover effects upon domestic interests, thus providing further support for deepening regional ties, debates have failed to address whether and how the regional environment shapes the interests of domestic actors in global regimes. This question has been ignored even by recent works on comparative regionalism (e.g.: BORZEL and RISSE, 2016; SOLINGEN, 2015) or comparisons between regional powers (e.g., NOLTE, 2010), notwithstanding growing concerns about a potential fragmentation of the international society and world economy into separate blocs, as the ongoing wave of nationalism that threatens the Western-led liberal order suggests.

Thus, considering such gaps, one may ask whether a state changes its foreign policy within specific issue-areas once its patterns of socialization at the regional level shift. In this research note, we outline such a research agenda and framework, and present the first findings of a project that aims to compare how two democratic emerging powers - Brazil and India - changed their global priorities in key areas of their foreign policy as they engaged with their respective regions. We do assume that countries embedded in different regional environments are comparable as long as their relations with their main regional competitors were relatively similar. Brazil's and India's respective approaches toward their neighborhoods reflect regionalism properly said - with actual institutionalization, as it is the case in South America - and regionalization - which takes place through weaker ties, such as bilateral and/or flexible agreements. Yet, they competed with Argentina and Pakistan respectively, up to the point that the use of the nuclear card was an option, even though on a different scale.

However, the Brazilian experience in South America suggests that a shift from negative to positive securitization in nuclear proliferation at the regional level triggers changes in the patterns of socialization within the same issues at the global level. Brazil joined the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1998 after having consolidated regional institutions to stop the nuclear race with Argentina, its main regional rival. In turn, in South Asia, India became a Nuclear Weapon State (NWS) outside the NPT framework, having not reached a settlement with its enduring rival in South Asia, Pakistan, which also owns the bomb. Brazil's and India's patterns of regional socialization and, consequently, their respective views on the NPR between 1970 and 2000 make an appropriate pair for the purposes of constructing the framework through the method of difference (MILL, 2011).

A core caveat of our project is that it has no intention to debate why Brazil and Argentina reached a settlement on nuclear issues, whereas India and Pakistan did not (see DAVIES, 2004, for a comparative study). Nor do we debate the causes behind the lack of strong regional integration in South Asia and more institutionalization in South America. We take these factors for granted and employ them as explanatory variables to demonstrate the empirical application of the framework through a process-tracing approach that, following George and Bennett (2005) and Waldner (2015), focuses on the macro-level for the purposes of theory-building rather than theory-testing (BEACH and PEDERSEN, 2013). States - not bureaucrats or societal actors - are our unit of analysis. As we advance in our research, however, we hope to explore the micro-level of analysis, opening the state black box and its interactions with society on nuclear policy in Brazil and India. …

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