Latin America Confronts the United States: Asymmetry and Influence

Long joins a growing list of scholars who have challenged the deeply held assumption that hegemonic U.S. power has left little space for Latin American countries to take the initiative in their relationships with Washington. He demonstrate that in fact, when dealing with the United States, capable Latin American leaders have not only successfully defended their interests but also astutely intervened in U.S. domestic politics to alter the way that Washington defines and pursues its interests in the region. Having delved into Latin American archives and interviewed Latin American leaders and diplomats, Long narrates four revealing case studies to demonstrate how apparently weaker states can come out on top in their dealings with larger, seemingly more powerful states. Indeed, smallness can be a source of strength, as governments wrap themselves in the popular banners of sovereignty and justice and rally other states to their cause, which Long dubs “collective foreign policy power.” Smaller states may also be more single-minded in pursuit of their diplomatic goals, whereas a global power such as the United States may be distracted by myriad other matters. Long’s case studies also suggest that Latin American countries can gain more through persistent diplomacy and cooperative solutions than through aggressive confrontation or by pursuing a negative form of autonomy.

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