Latin America and the Caribbean in the International System

By G. Pope Atkins | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FOUR
The Latin American
and Caribbean States

Comparative foreign policy analysis of the Latin American and Caribbean states encounters the problem of dealing with the thirty-three entities composing the regional sector. In a sense their foreign policies are as diverse as the countries themselves. Nevertheless, the regional states share certain basic elements, so that we may make some generalizations that help us understand their foreign policy behavior. Certain aspects of three broad areas are considered from the perspectives of the regional states themselves that shed light on foreign policy choices: (1) the external environment within which foreign policies are formulated and executed and that impinge on policy formulation; (2) intrasocietal and political system elements that also shape the options for decision makers; and (3) specific policy orientations adopted toward the outside world as a result of the above influences brought to bear on the decisional process. Such an analysis reveals a number of common traits as well as important distinctions. The elements investigated in this chapter also serve to present a significant part of the milieu within which outsiders operate when Latin America is the object of their policies. The purpose of the chapter, however, is to analyze foreign policy from the point of view of the Latin American and Caribbean states themselves, in terms of how they pursue their own interests and attempt to satisfy their own needs. 1


THE EXTRASOCIETAL ENVIRONMENT

Decision makers' perceptions of the world and their state's position in it exerts a substantial influence on what they determine is possible for them to do. From a global perspective, all of the Latin American and Caribbean states have been lesser ranking in terms of power in the international system, so that on extraregional levels a number of frequently similar policy ends and means may be postulated. Within the region, however, considerable diversity with regard to capability is evident. At one extreme is Brazil, unquestionably the most powerful Latin American country with at times the desire and potential to move into world power ranks, followed closely by

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