Latin American Research Review 39.1 (2004) 205-222
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Assessing Inter-American Relations
G. Pope Atkins
United States Naval Academy
The seven books reviewed in this essay are concerned with the inter-American system of relations among the states of the Western Hemisphere. They are described and assessed individually and in comparison in terms of intent, content, and analytic approaches. 1
Three of the books under review—Don Coerver and Linda Hall's Tangled Destinies: Latin America and the United States, Peter Smith's Talons of the Eagle: Dynamics of U.S.-Latin American Relations, and Mark Gilderhus's The Second Century: U.S.-Latin American Relations Since 1889—are chronologically organized historical surveys of inter-American phenomena. Coerver and Hall and Smith devote about a third of their attention to post-Cold War matters; Guilderhus closes his analysis with the end of the Cold War. Three books are set in the post-Cold War era, with additional consideration of the prospects for policies and consequences of interactions. Two of the works here—Victor Bulmer-Thomas and James Dunkerley's The United States and Latin America: The New Agenda and Jorge Domínguez's The Future of Inter-American Relations—are concerned with relations within the inter-American system, while Joseph Tulchin and Ralph Espach's, Latin America in the New International System, analyzes inter-American regional elements in the context of the larger international system. Finally, Robert Pastor's Exiting the Whirlpool: U.S. Foreign Policy Toward Latin America and the Caribbean, while focusing on U.S. policies from the Carter through the Clinton administrations, analyzes at length Latin American orientations and inter-American environments. 2
The authors take up a variety of analytic approaches to and interpretations of inter-American relations and foreign policy orientations. All [End Page 206] of the books comment to some degree on the method, theory, or concepts that guide their analyses or interpretations. Smith, Pastor, and Tulchin and Espach arethe most explicit in this regard and provide the most extensive commentary.
All of the books pay special attention to the role and policies of the United States as they interact with the rest of the Americas (five of them explicitly indicate this emphasis in their titles). At the same time, they assess, to varying degrees, Latin Americans' perceptions of their own foreign policy interests and values as they engage the United States. Most of the books also address intra-Latin American relations and the region's interactions elsewhere with the world outside. Only Pastor explicitly discusses the unique character of the Commonwealth Caribbean countries, although others address them as part of the inter-American mosaic as the newest states in the region. Canada receives short shrift, other than as a member of NAFTA; the books edited by Bulmer-Tomas and Dunkerley and by Domínguez briefly discuss the revitalization of Canada's inter-American relationships...