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Latin American Foreign Policies Between Ideology and Pragmatism

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Continue shopping. Item s unavailable for purchase. Please review your cart. You can remove the unavailable item s now or we'll automatically remove it at Checkout. Remove FREE. Unavailable for purchase. Continue shopping Checkout Continue shopping. Chi ama i libri sceglie Kobo e inMondadori. View Synopsis. Choose Store. Or, get it for Kobo Super Points! The Reagan administration expanded military and economic assistance to friendly Third World governments battling leftist insurgencies and actively supported guerrilla movements and other opposition forces in countries with leftist governments.

This policy, which became known as the Reagan Doctrine, was applied with particular zeal in Latin America. Central to these efforts was supplying military and economic aid to the government of El Salvador in its civil war against the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front and in organizing, funding, and training the contras, a guerrilla force of 15, who sought to overthrow the Marxist Sandinista government in neighboring Nicaragua.

Support for such "freedom fighters" was also extended to Angola, Afghanistan, and Cambodia to assist those irregular forces in their struggles against totalitarian leftist regimes. In these ways the Reagan Doctrine can be viewed as a natural corollary of the Nixon Doctrine, albeit one whose permissibility under international law is seriously in question. Such assistance to rebel insurgents is generally viewed as unlawful intervention into the internal affairs of another state and is prohibited under international legal rules, irrespective of the ideological character of the ruling government.

Other U. For example, even though the Reagan administration was adamant about not dealing with terrorists, in it agreed to sell weapons to Iran in the hope that this might persuade Islamic fundamentalists holding hostages in Lebanon to release them. Interestingly, the monies from the arms sales went to support of the contras in their war against the Nicaraguan Sandinistas. Similarly, the invasion of Grenada in on the pretext of rescuing one thousand American medical students on the island and the bombing of Libya in on the pretext of acting in self-defense against Libya for its bombing of a West Berlin discotheque further eroded the respect for law by the Reagan administration in its foreign policy.

Although praised by Congress and the American pubic, these actions were widely condemned by the international community for their shaky legal underpinnings. Propelled by ideological concerns, U. Throughout the Cold War years, presidential doctrines articulated policies in which international legal considerations were conspicuously omitted, as unilateralist ideology assumed paramount importance. Since the end of the Cold War, pragmatism in U. Even so moral, liberal, and legal considerations have been integrated more and more to explain and justify U.

There has evolved the need to advocate normative arguments for American actions to foster greater international acceptance of the lawfulness of that policy. For President George H. Bush, the invasion of Panama and the Gulf War were principal U. In December , U. The Bush administration provided three pragmatic reasons, grounded in nationalist considerations, to justify the action: to keep the Panama Canal open; on grounds of self-defense, to protect the lives of U. One liberal objective was given in support of the action: to restore democracy in Panama. The legal rule of nonintervention into Panama was overridden for perceived pragmatic short-term objectives of U.

The Gulf War of was the first major military conflict involving U. Importantly, it came not as a unilateral U. Rather, American military action was taken as part of a collective responsibility, formally approved in seventeen resolutions by the UN Security Council in order to force Saddam Hussein's forces to quit their unlawful occupation of the Persian Gulf sheikdom. Sponsored by the United States, Security Council Resolution , adopted on 29 November , asserted that unless Iraq unconditionally withdrew from Kuwait and released all foreigners by 15 January , UN member states would be allowed to "use all necessary means to restore the international peace and security in the area.

On 23 February a massive ground assault was launched to eject Iraqi troops forcibly from Kuwait. Four days later the war ended. While American motivations for prosecuting the war against Iraq were more strategic than moral—that is, to maintain secure access to oil resources in the Persian Gulf, to prevent Iraq from controlling nearly one-half of the world's known oil reserves, and to preclude Iraq from building up a military machine that included weapons of mass destruction—a strong case can be made for the lawfulness of its action.

The United States might have acted unilaterally to oust Saddam Hussein, but it did not. Resort to the Security Council and obtaining its concurrence was essential for substantiating the legitimacy of the U.

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In this instance U. At the time, many analysts even agreed that the Gulf War served well the prospects for a "new world order. To appreciate the tragedy of this point, one only has to think of the civil wars in Somalia — , Burundi , Rwanda , Bosnia — , Sierra Leone — , Serbia-Kosovo , and the Congo — that killed or displaced more than five million people over a decade. Pragmatism affects U. It alleviates the requirement that American decision makers only make policy that is grounded in strict legal principles or ideological tenets.

Policy is not wedded to philosophical or moral stricture. It can be decided with greater flexibility, based mainly on political perceptions as opposed to rigid normative considerations. Further, U. In its international dealings the United States reacts to certain events as they occur rather than anticipating that they will occur. In this sense pragmatism contributes to the American tendency to prefer short-term national goals over long-term international solutions—an approach that invites inconsistency in foreign policy actions.

Pragmatism can also blind policy-makers to the more idealistic sides of liberalism, especially with regard to respect for human rights. One only has to recall that the United States has supported a number of governments that had egregious human rights records in the treatment of their own citizens, to wit, Anastasio Somoza in Nicaragua, Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic, Fulgencio Batista in Cuba, the shah in Iran, Duarte in El Salvador, Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines, and the minority white government in South Africa.

One can similarly conclude that when vital interests are perceived to be at stake, U. In the Clinton administration fired cruise missiles against Iraq in retaliation for Saddam Hussein's refusal to permit UN inspections of suspected chemical and biological weapons facilities.

More missiles were fired in against Sudan and Afghanistan in response to those governments' alleged complicity in the bombings of the U. American claims that their actions were motivated by lawful considerations of self-defense are suspect, and the evidence of these governments' complicity is not well founded.

More likely, these attacks were acts of military reprisal against those states, acts that are impermissible under the rules of modern international law.

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  • On certain national security issues, international law provides the preferred practical recourse in U. Two critical areas of intense U. Regarding international terrorism, such violence has become a regular event in modern times, with Americans and their property frequent targets. Between and the number of terrorist attacks worldwide remained relatively consistent, with 9, incidents, including attacks in While domestic terrorism—such as the bombs that seriously damaged the World Trade Center in and destroyed the Alfred P.

    Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City in —is a matter for American civil authorities, concern over transnational terrorism has escalated in U. These worries not only pertain to conventional problems such as bombing and kidnapping but also to the possibility that terrorists might use chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons against a city in the United States. Accordingly, the United States has assumed the leading role in establishing specific prohibitions against such violent acts through the negotiation of special international legal agreements.

    Chiefly toward this end, American negotiators, beginning in , have proposed international legal instruments that stipulate not only the unlawful nature of terrorist acts but also the fundamental requirement for governments to prosecute persons who perpetrate such acts, or at least extradite accused offenders to those states who will. Outstanding among U. Importantly, though, the United States by had yet to become a contracting party to the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings 24 contracting states or the Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism 3 contracting states.

    Through these legal means, U. To regulate the use of force and weapons systems in interstate relations, U. The end goal of policy might appear idealistic to promote international peace and national security through disarmament , but the means taken are clearly more realistic in their intent and application to negotiate instruments for arms control guided by President Reagan's maxim of "trust but verify". The United States has thus employed diplomacy to create legal rules so as to promote greater order and stability in interstate relations, thereby contributing to its own national security.

    Nowhere is this strategy more apparent than in efforts to control the use and spread of weapons of mass destruction globally and, more particularly, in its bilateral relationship with the former Soviet Union, now Russia. To assist in curbing proliferation of various weapons, the United States was instrumental in drafting, negotiating, and promoting numerous international agreements. Through negotiation of international legal instruments, the U. What makes the U. The United States is party and legally obligated to all of the following: The Limited Test Ban Treaty, which bans tests in the atmosphere, outer space, and under water contracting parties ; the Nonproliferation Treaty, which prohibits selling, giving, or receiving nuclear weapons contracting states ; the Seabed Arms Control Treaty, which bans placement of nuclear weapons in or under the deep seabed 99 contracting states ; the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, which bans the production and possession of biological weapons contracting states ; the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks Treaty SALT I , which limits the number and types of U.

    Notable exceptions cloud U. Senate in rejected the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty 77 contracting states , largely for reasons of partisan politics and to ensure that the ability to test nuclear weapons would be available to the United States so as to maintain nuclear parity with other states.

    Nor has the United States contracted to the Convention on the Prohibition of Anti-Personnel Mines contracting states , because of the deterrent value of landmines for protecting U. Unilateral exceptionalism, ostensibly on pragmatic security grounds, reemerged in the presidency of George W. The Bush administration indicated that it would withdraw from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with Russia so that the United States may go forward with testing and deployment of a space-based missile system to protect America from an attack by a "rogue state" armed with nuclear missiles.

    Moreover, the Bush administration announced in that the United States opposed a UN treaty to limit the international sale of small arms, because the accord would constrain the legitimate weapons trade and infringe on the right of American citizens to bear arms. Such international legal agreements demonstrate the American recourse to legalism, but they are steeped in motives of pragmatism and realism. A treaty in and of itself cannot prevent the use of any weapon by any party, no more than domestic laws can prevent a person from using a handgun to rob a bank or commit murder.

    Latin American Foreign Policies

    Still, multilateral agreements articulate rules and norms that states are expected to follow in their conduct. If all contracting parties adhered to all these legal rules all of the time, the possibility of these weapons being used would be considerably reduced, and the prospects for obtaining international peace and security would be greatly enhanced. Once again, the motivations for U. The blend of pragmatism with recourse to multilateral legalism is also well illustrated in issues concerning conservation of natural resources and protection of the biosphere.

    As the greatest industrial superpower in history, the United States consumes 35 percent of the world's energy resources and emits nearly 25 percent of the world's carbon dioxide. American economic consumption at home generates serious environmental repercussions abroad. Since the U.

    To these ends more than five hundred multilateral agreements have been concluded on conservation and protection of the biosphere, many done with vigorous U. The obligatory presumption underpinning these instruments is that governments and individuals must use the biosphere responsibly, on the theory that it belongs to no one individually and to everyone collectively. These views are crystallized in multilateral agreements negotiated as legal regimes to govern national activities in global common areas, that is, in those spaces such as the oceans, Antarctica, and the atmosphere.

    Importantly, the United States is formally obligated to most of these legal regimes. The legal status of the world's oceans has been a legal concern for four hundred years, though more recent attention has focused on how best to use them without causing pollution, resource depletion, or harm to living creatures.

    The first global effort to codify the oceans' legal status came in with the promulgation of the four Geneva Conventions on the Law of the Sea. The United States assumed the pivotal role in drafting these agreements. When advances in technology overwhelmed the relevance of these instruments, the United Nations in convened a complex, protracted series of negotiations to recodify ocean law.

    Again, the United States assumed the central role in these negotiations, which in produced the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. This framework convention seeks to regulate issues of offshore territorial jurisdiction, ownership of the continental shelf region, exploration and exploitation of living and nonliving resources in the ocean and on the deep seabed, as well as protection of the marine environment.


    The convention defines coastal zones, establishes an International Seabed Authority to regulate mining on the ocean floor beyond the limits of national jurisdiction, and provides for sharing revenues derived from such operations. For modern ocean law, the convention rules the waves for most nations. Yet the United States has remained resistant to becoming a party to this agreement, principally because of the deep seabed issue.

    The United States possesses the most advanced seabed mining technology and would contribute the most dues to the authority's operations, which would likely most benefit developing countries. On these grounds some U. In this respect the U. The irony is that, over the course of nearly a decade, the United States contributed more legal wherewithal and technical insights to the negotiation of this convention than any other government.

    In the end, the fundamental issue came down to that of sovereign self-interest versus international common interest, and in this case, sovereign self-interest appears to have won out.