Rivalry and Alliance Politics in Cold War Latin America, Christopher Darnton's comparative study of the nature of conflict between Latin American states during the Cold War, provides a counterintuitive and shrewd explanation of why diplomacy does or doesn't work. Specifically, he develops a theory that shows how the "parochial interests" of state bureaucracies can overwhelm national leaders' foreign policy initiatives and complicate regional alliances.
His thorough evaluation of several twentieth-century Latin American conflicts covers the gamut of diplomatic disputes from border clashes to economic provocations to regional power struggles. Darnton examines the domestic political and economic conditions that contribute either to rivalry (continued conflict) or rapprochement (diplomatic reconciliation) while assessing the impact of U.S. foreign policy.
Detailed case studies provide not only a robust test of the theory but also a fascinating tour of Latin American history and Cold War politics, including a multilayered examination of Argentine-Brazilian strategic competition and presidential summits over four decades; three rivalries in Central America following Cuba's 1959 revolution; and how the 1980s debt crisis entangled the diplomatic affairs of several Andean countries. These questions about international rivalry and rapprochement are of particular interest to security studies and international relations scholars, as they seek to understand what defuses regional conflicts, creates stronger incentives for improving diplomatic ties between states, and builds effective alliances.
The analysis also bears fruit for contemporary studies of counterterrorism in its critique of parallels between the Cold War and the Global War on Terror, its examination of failed rapprochement efforts between Algeria and Morocco, and its assessment of obstacles to U.S. coalition-building efforts.
Christopher Darnton is an assistant professor of politics at the Catholic University of America.
Acknowledgments1. Explaining Rivalry and Rapprochement in Cold War Latin America2. Parochial Interest and Policy Change3. Antagonism and Anti-Communism in Argentine-Brazilian RelationsPeron and Dutra, 1947: Damn the TorpedoesFrondizi and Quadros, 1961: The Spirit of UruguaianaLanusse and Medici, 1972: General to GeneralVidela and Figueiredo, 1980: The Turning Point4. The 1959 Cuban Revolution and Central American RivalriesFrom Borders to Brotherhood: Nicaragua and HondurasPersistent Conflicts: Costa Rica-Nicaragua and El Salvador-Honduras5. The 1980s Debt Crisis and Andean RivalriesPersistent Conflicts: Peru-Ecuador, Colombia-Venezuela, and Bolivia-ChileFrom Crisis to Cooperation: Argentina and Chile6. From the Cold War to the Global War on TerrorismAlegeria and Morocco: Protracted Rivalry in the Maghreb7. The Organizational Politics of Conflict ResolutionNotesIndex