In This Review

A Small State’s Guide to Influence in World Politics
A Small State’s Guide to Influence in World Politics
By Tom Long
Oxford University Press, 2022, 240 pp.

Building on his seminal 2015 work, Latin America Confronts the United States, Long persuasively presses his case that smaller states, with creative leadership, can often successfully defend their national interests in contests with bigger ones. He urges his scholarly colleagues to redefine international relations studies by stretching beyond the interactions of great powers to focus on the many smaller states that light up the geopolitical firmament. Deploying some 20 illustrative country studies, Long outlines the key variables that smaller states must consider in designing winning bargaining strategies: which policy issues matter in dueling countries, the extent of policy divergence between them, and the cohesion among elites in great powers. Smaller polities can be ambitious but must admit the very real constraints imposed by asymmetries of power and by global norms and institutions. Long’s success stories in Latin America include Panama gaining control over its canal at the end of the twentieth century and, more recently, El Salvador negotiating with the United States over military facilities and Bolivia bargaining with neighboring Brazil over natural gas.