Foreign Policy Theory in Menem's Argentina

By Carlos Escudé | Go to book overview

1
Toward a Citizen-Centric Critique of Anglo- American International Relations Theory

ARGENTINA: INTERPLAY BETWEEN FOREIGN POLICY AND INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS THINKING

Until the advent of the administration of Carlos Saúl Menem in 1989, and ever since 1889 (when the first Pan American Conference was held in Washington, D.C.), Argentina and the United States had relations that, with few exceptions, were less than friendly and were usually rather tense. Argentina systematically antagonized the United States in diplomatic forums, rejected the Monroe Doctrine, was neutral during both world wars, championed a socalled Third Position after 1945, and later joined the Non-Aligned Movement. Concomitantly, under successive governments (and regardless of the type of domestic regime), the Argentine state refused to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty, refused to ratify the Tlatelolco Treaty for the prohibition of nuclear weapons in Latin America, devoted its scarce resources to the successful enrichment of uranium, and, under the democratic administration of Alfonsín ( 1983-89), undertook a joint venture with Egypt, Iraq, and Libya for the development of an intermediate-range guided missile, the Cóndor II. On the other hand, until 1979 relations with Brazil, which included a nuclear race, were tense, while war almost broke out with Chile in 1978. In 1982 Argentina invaded the disputed Falkland/Malvinas Islands, which had been under British rule since 1833; in so doing, the Argentine state found itself in a losing war against the United Kingdom in which the United States sided, predictably, with the latter. 1

This record was unique in Latin America. It resulted from several factors that fed each other, among them (1) Argentina's past prosperity (from approximately 1880 to 1942), which had generated expectations of future world power status, a prosperity that was the product of a dependent development symbiotically tied to the British economy but not in any way (until World War II) dependent on the United States; 2 (2) Argentina's geographical isola-

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