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Security in Latin America

This article provides an overview of recent trends in Latin American security

but also seeks to probe and unsettle three of the common assumptions that
underpin both academic analysis and recent policy debates. The first
assumption is that the support and promotion of political democracy is not
only a valued end in itself, but also one that will contribute towards regional
stability and security. This view draws on the liberal academic claim that
democracies do not fight each other and on the commonsense view that the
military governments of the +,;os with their harsh national security doctrines
and their rhetoric of geopolitical struggle and conflict were self-evidently
problematic for regional security.
In reality, democratic peace theory
encounters many difficulties when applied to the region. It provides a very
partial and often misleading guide to understanding the history of interstate
conflict and cooperation in Latin America and therefore an incomplete
foundation on which to ground future policy.
The second assumption, which also reflects a deep-rooted strand of liberal
thinking on international relations, is that economic liberalization and regional
integration feed naturally and positively into the creation of a stable and secure
regional order. In contrast to the strong claims of democratic peace theory, the
links between economic interdependence and peace have always been more
elusive and difficult either to demonstrate or to refute with any precision.The
argument here is that, while there are certainly cases, most notably within
Mercosur and the Southern Cone,where economic integration appears to have
reinforced rapprochement between erstwhile rivals and assisted the creation of a
more stable regional environment, at the same time successful economic
regionalization can also be a significant potential problem for regional order
and a source of negative security externalities which, if unmanaged, are likely
to become more serious.
:, International Affairs, (+,,) :,o
Democratic peace theory hasbecome central, not just to debatesin international relationstheory but also to
regional security analysis.Take, for example, Gerald Segalsclaim:By far the most important factor for inter-
national security seemsto be the emergence of pluralist (democratic) political systems, in How insecure is
Pacific Asia?, International Affairs;::, +,,;, p. :. For agood overview of the debate see Michael Brown,
Sean Lynn-Jonesand Steven Miller, eds, Debatingthedemocraticpeace(Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, +,,o).
hurrell 8/6/98 4:18 pm Page 529
The third assumption is that the agenda of regional security should be
broadened to include issues such as drug trafficking, drug-related violence and
criminality, migration and refugees, environmental degradation, and worsening
public order in the face of different forms of internal violence. It is certainly
the case that the most serious security problems and threats to regional order
are domestic and transnational in nature. And yet the increasingly pervasive
rhetoric of the new security agenda disguises or even obscures many complex
and contested issues. Divergent understandings of the meaning, nature and
implications of the new security agenda have important policy implications and
are likely to impede effective regional responses.
Since the end of the Cold War regional order and security have increasingly
come to be defined in terms of the collective defence of democracy and the
promotion of liberal economic reform and regional integration. These
processes will, it is hoped, provide the foundations for the creation of a stronger
sense of regional community and the establishment of a set of political
structures within which specific security threats, both traditional (e.g. old-style
border conflicts) and non-traditional (e.g. the privatization of violence, drugs,
migration) can be tackled.
I do not argue here that this liberal orthodoxy is
wholly wrong. But I do suggest that it needs to be subjected to a much more
critical analysis than has been common hitherto.
This article concentrates on the nature of the regional security order in Latin
America. Delimiting this region as a security entity is difficult and cannot be
done by definitional fiat. On the one hand, recent writing has increasingly
stressed the greater social and economic heterogeneity of Latin America today
and the widening degree of differentiation in the kinds of security challenges
facing governments.

Thus it is obviously the case that problems of widespread

social violence, drug-related criminality and insurgent challenges are more
pressing and serious in the Andean region than in the Southern Cone. Even
within large countries there is immense variation in the capacity of state
structures to cope with new security challenges. On the other hand, as I will
argue below, one of the results of regionalization and of economic integration
is to make neighbours more vulnerable to instability across their borders and to
increased levels of political interdependence.
Some would like to resolve this issue by appealing to an objective or quasi-
objective definition. Security complex theory argues that a regionally based
security complex can be defined as a group of states whose primary security
concerns link together sufficiently closely that their national securities cannot
realistically be considered apart from one another.

The hard side of strategic

Andrew Hurrell
For a survey of such argumentssee Mark Peceny,The Inter-American System asa liberal Pacific
Union, Latin American Research Review (LARR) :,: , +,,.

See e.g.Augusto Varas,From coercion to partnership: anew paradigm for security cooperation in the
Western hemisphere?, in Jonathan Hartlyn, LarsSchoultz and Augusto Varaseds, TheUnited Statesand
Latin America in thes: beyond theCold War (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North CarolinaPress, +,,).

Barry Buzan, People, statesand fear, :nd edn (Hemel Hempstead: Harvester, +,,+), p. +,o.
hurrell 8/6/98 4:18 pm Page 530
interdependence (range of missiles, vulnerability to conventional attack, even
material spillovers of refugees,drug-related violence or insurgency) can perhaps
be assessed in a reasonably objective way. But the degree to which states and
social groups come to understand regional problems in security terms is the
outcome of complex political processes and varying political construction.As I
will argue, it is often specific combinations of state power and interests or the
involvement of an NGO, rather than any objective measure of importance, that
determines why certain issues achieve political salience; why some groups are
able to achieve voice, exposure and perhaps protection while others suffer in
More importantly,it has always been very difficult to define a Latin American
security complex in a way that excludes the United States. Historically, the
United States has reacted in many different ways to insecurity in the region. It
has never consistently opposed the use of force in the region. It has sometimes
chosen to remain disengaged from international tensions (as with the conflicts
between Peru and Ecuador in +,,+ and between Chile and Argentina in
the +,;os). On other occasions Washington itself has been willing to use
military force, or to support or actively promote the use of force by others (as
in Central America in the +,os). Equally, although it has sometimes promoted
multilateral security arrangements, it has steadfastly resisted any institutional
constraints that would curb its traditional unilateralism and hegemonic
presumptions. Irrespective of the policy actually chosen, its very presence and
the possibility of US action have always been factors in the minds of Latin
American governments. It is in the nature of hegemony that actions and
reactions will be influenced by expectations of what the United States may or
may not do.The US role in the security of the hemisphere provides the perfect
illustration of the old adage that intervention and non-intervention are two
sides of the same coin.
The remainder of this article is divided into four parts.The first gives a brief
overview of the historic pattern of and recent trends in traditional interstate
security, and considers the role of democracy and democratization in
understanding this picture. The second section considers the various ways in
which regionalization and economic integration may pose problems for
regional stability. The third discusses some of the major issues that arise
regarding so-called new security challenges.The conclusion draws out some of
the implications of the analysis for the management of regional security.
Patterns of interstate conflict
For the first half-century following independence, the region was beset by
persistent and widespread wars of state formation and nation-building, both
internal and external. In this as in so many other ways, Latin America
foreshadowed the pattern of subsequent post-colonial conflicts, and by no
stretch of the imagination could be viewed as constituting a security
Security in Latin America
hurrell 8/6/98 4:18 pm Page 531
community or a zone of relative peace. However, from the late nineteenth
century both the number and the intensity of interstate wars between Latin
American states were remarkably lowdespite the existence of large numbers
of protracted and militarized border disputes, many cases of the threatened use
of force and of military intervention by outside powers, high levels of domestic
violence and political instability,and long periods of authoritarian rule.It is also
worth highlighting the degree to which armed conflict came increasingly to
revolve around limited border conflict: the use of force, not to seize large areas
of territory or to win in a Clausewitzian sense, but rather as a diplomatic
instrument to push the matter at issue back on to the agenda and to facilitate
the winning of concessions at the diplomatic negotiations that, as both sides
knew, would inevitably follow.There was, then, a clear willingness to use force;
but this was a limited conception of force within a strong diplomatic culture.
Geographical constraints and limited resources and state capacities are
significant factors in this pattern. But so too is the Latin American predilection
for international law, not because it obviates conflict but because it helps
provide a framework of rules for its management and limitation.
In the +,;os and early +,os,however,an increasing number of analysts began
to question the somewhat rosy picture. Even if the region had been relatively
pacific, commentators were predicting that South America was becoming more
conflictual and more like the rest of the developing world.

There was
consensus, too, on the reasons for this pessimism. First, the struggle for natural
resources had, it was argued, drastically increased the stakes of many historic
border disputes: hydroelectric resources on the River Paran between Brazil
and Argentina;access to off-shore oil, fishing and seabed minerals in the case of
Chile and Argentina (and, in many Latin American minds, Britain and
Argentina); access to oil once more in the border disputes between Peru and
Ecuador,Venezuela and Guyana, and Venezuela and Colombia. Second, the re-
emergence of superpower rivalry in the Third World had increased the stakes
in and the ideological intensity of regional insecurity, above all in Central
America.Third, many saw the overall decline of US hegemony and the virtual
death by +,: of the network of multilateral bilateral security arrangements
between the United States and Latin American States that constituted the
Inter-American Military System as reducing the ability of Washington to
maintain discipline within its own sphere of influence. Finally, many noted the
continued prevalence of extreme geopolitical thinking among the militaries of
the Southern Cone and the fact that arms spending and the capabilities of
national arms industries appeared to be increasing. Not only was the
Andrew Hurrell

See e.g. Gregory F.Treverton,Interstate conflict in Latin America, in Kevin J. Middlebrook and Carlos
Rico, eds, TheUnited States and Latin America in thes(Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh
Press, +,o); Jack Child, Geopolitics and conflict in South America: quarrels amongneighbours(New York:
Praeger, +,); Michael Morris and Victor Milln, eds, ControllingLatin American conflicts(Boulder, CO:
Westview, +,). For a more nuanced and sceptical view, see Walter Little,International conflicts in
Latin America, International Affairso: , October +,;.
hurrell 8/6/98 4:18 pm Page 532
Falklands/ Malvinas War of +,: a worrying sign that extreme forms of terri-
torial nationalism had not disappeared, but the debt crisis that broke in +,:
led to the collapse of intraregional trade flows and the further erosion of the
already stagnant economic integration schemes inherited from the integra-
tionist wave of the +,oos.
From the perspective of the late +,,os we can identify subregions where dra-
matic and positive developments have taken place alongside others in which
significant problems persist. The most dramatic change was the move from
geopolitical rivalry to cooperation between Brazil and Argentina that took
place through the +,os, leading to the emergence of institutionalized eco-
nomic and political cooperation in the form of Mercosur. Indeed by the early
+,,os a reasonably stable security community had emerged based around the
BrazilArgentina rapprochementa group of states within which there is real
assurance that the members of that community will not fight each other phys-
ically, but will settle their disputes in some other way;
where there are
dependable expectations of peaceful change; and where military force gradual-
ly disappears as a conceivable instrument of statecraft.
In the security field, rapprochement involved confidence-building measures,
arms control agreements with cooperative verification schemes (especially in
the nuclear field), shifts in military posture and declining levels of military
spending, as well as a security discourse that avoids the rhetoric of the balance
of power and that contrasts sharply with the extreme geopolitical doctrines of
the +,oos and +,;os. The successes in the field of cooperative security have
mostly been of a negative (but still important) kind: relaxing tension; reducing
threat perceptions via confidence-building measures and arms control regimes;
preventing backsliding and the reappearance of balance of power discourses.
There have been only rather modest steps towards the more active components
of cooperative security, such as agreeing plans for joint action or for the
construction of anything resembling a collective security system. But recent
developments are emblematic of the degree of change: denser military
exchanges and bilateral discussions; joint army and naval exercises; a gradually
increasing salience of security-related issues within the framework of political
cooperation within Mercosur; the decision by Argentina to give up its policy
of empty provinces under which, until the +,os, no valued economic
activities, and few bridges or transport systems, were developed in the northern
provinces as part of a geopolitical doctrine of strategic denial in the face of a
Brazilian threat. Not only has such thinking disappeared, but increased
infrastructural integration and ever-denser transborder ties have become a
central part of the Mercosur project.
Security in Latin America

Karl W. Deutsch, Sidney A. Burrell and Robert A. Kann, Political community in theNorthAtlanticArea: inter-
national organization in thelight of historical experience(Princeton: Princeton University Press, +,,;), p. .
For a more detailed discussion see Andrew Hurrell,An emerging security community in South
America?, in Michael Barnett and Emanuel Adler, eds, Security communities(Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, September +,,).
hurrell 8/6/98 4:18 pm Page 533
Together,these developments represent a tremendously significant shift in the
historic pattern of rivalry and geopolitical competition between Brazil and
Argentina. Previous disputes have been settled; diplomatic, military and eco-
nomic resources are no longer committed to opposing the other side; and the
two countries are enmeshed in an increasingly dense process of cooperation
and integration across a range of issues. Power and relative power have not
wholly disappeared from the equation, especially to many in Argentina who
fear that deep integration with Brazil is bringing excessive dependence.
Equally, thinking on security continues to be influenced by persisting foreign
policy differences (for example, Argentinas determination to secure from
Washington the (symbolic) status of special non-NATO ally,in marked contrast
to Brazils more independent stance vis--visthe United States). Nevertheless,
the problem of Brazilian power is no longer understood in strategic, let alone
military, terms and the idea of actively opposing Brazilian power has largely
If there is an emerging security community around the Mercosur countries,
what are its boundaries? The most immediate issue concerns Chile.The long
history of territorial conflict with Argentina and of the shared perception of
territorial losses at the others expense goes back to the early days of state for-
mation in the +:os. In addition, Chile has long been part of the balance of
power system in the Southern Cone, and balance of power thinking and, later,
geopolitical analysis has become deeply ingrained in the military establishments
of the two countries. A protracted arms race and the renewal of conflict over
the islands in the Beagle Channel brought the two countries close to war in
the +,;os. However, since then, there have been many positive developments.
Starting with the +, Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation which settled the
Beagle dispute, : out of the : outstanding border disputes have been settled
(the :th has been agreed by governments but is stuck in Argentinas congress).
Chile has taken part in a number of arms control and confidence-building
measures, notably the Mendoza Declaration of +,,+ on chemical and biologi-
cal weapons,also signed by Brazil and Argentina.Contacts between the military
establishments of Chile and other states have grown in frequency and density
since +,o, and in November +,, a memorandum of understanding on
security affairs was agreed with Argentina. Diplomatic and political exchanges
have flourished, and by +,, Chile had decided to shift its position on
Mercosur to seek closer relations (although not membership), signing an
association agreement in June +,,o.
And yet there remain grounds for hesitancy. Securing domestic political
support for the delineation of historically contested boundaries has not been
easy.While domestic disgrace, external defeat and severe economic stringency
have forced the Argentinian military to rethink its roles, the Chilean military
has retained a much more traditional conception of both its mission and the
nature of regional international politics. It also has the political autonomy and
resources to press for weapons modernization.This modernization programme
Andrew Hurrell

hurrell 8/6/98 4:18 pm Page 534

(and the decision of the United States in August +,,; to lift its ban on selling
high-technology weapons into the region) represents an important test of the
new climate of regional confidence and security cooperation.
Further to the north, it is very difficult to talk of anything resembling even a
loosely knit security community. Historically, in this subregion balancing
behaviour and threats of force have been common, and the possibility of using
force as part of foreign policy has been taken for granted by the militaries of
many South and Central American states. Since the late +,os it is possible to
highlight positive developments: the success of regional pacification in Central
America, involving confidence-building measures, regional mediation efforts
and an active role for the Organization of American States (OAS) and the UN;
the growth in the +,os of new forms of political association, especially in the
form of the Rio Group; the spread of economic integration and cooperation
agreements; and the reinvigoration of the OAS, and its actions in Peru,
Guatemala and Haiti.

Yet, even in terms of traditional interstate security,

serious problems remain, most obviously in the war between Peru and Ecuador
which flared up in early +,,,but also between Venezuela and Colombia where
traditional border tensions have been fed by guerrilla activity, drugs and illegal
How should we explain these evolving patterns of interstate security?
Interpretations follow predictable lines. Realists and neo-realists look to
geopolitical location, to the varying degree of insulation from extraregional
influences and to the hegemonic or policing role of, first, Britain and then the
United States. Within the region, they highlight the emergence of relatively
autonomous regional balances of power (for example between Brazil,Argentina
and Chile), as well as other material factors which have worked to restrain
conflictthe absence of transport links, borders that were geographically
removed from centres of political and economic activity, and military
technologies that made it extremely difficult to bring power to bear in
offensive wars of conquest. Neo-Marxists and neo-dependency theorists see
the international relations of the region as reflecting developments in global
capitalism, with first Britain and then the United States intervening in and
manipulating local relationships in pursuit of their economic interests.
International society theorists and constructivists stress the extent to which a
shared cultural and historical experience, particular patterns of state formation
and ongoing international interaction all combined to produce a strong
regional diplomatic culturea regional society of states which, although still
often in conflict, conceived themselves to be bound by a common set of rules
and shared in the workings of common institutions. Liberals look to shifting
patterns of domestic politics, to the fortunes of democratization within states,
Security in Latin America

For an assessment of regional initiativessee Carl Kaysen, Robert A. Pastor and Laura W. Reed, Eds,
Collectiveresponsesto regional problems: thecaseof Latin America and theCaribbean(Cambridge, MA:
American Academy of Artsand Sciences, +,,).
hurrell 8/6/98 4:18 pm Page 535
to the quality and level of interdependence among states, to the pacifying
impact of the regions insertion into the global economy, and to the role of
institutions in helping states to maximize common interests.
To what extent do liberal views of the links between political democracy and
regional peace stand up to scrutiny? Not very well at all. Political liberalism has
long argued that different kinds of states are likely to behave in different ways
and that democratic or republican states are likely to be more peaceful.Modern
democratic peace theory advances three specific arguments: first, that
democracies almost never fight each other and very rarely consider the use of
force in their mutual relations; second, that democracies are still prone to fight
with non-democracies (there are variations here, with some arguing that
democracies are as war-prone as non-democracies in interactions involving the
latter, while others assert that even here democracies are more pacific); and
third, that, while well-consolidated democracies interact peacefully,
democratizing regimes are as aggressive and war-prone as, if not more so than,
other kinds of states.
Although a straightforwardly Kantian account provides only a very
incomplete picture of the motivation for and development of rapprochement
between Brazil and Argentina, this case does provide an important counter-
example to the claim that democratizing states are war-prone.
For it was
democratization, rather than democracy per se, that was central to the rapproche-
ment between Brazil and Argentina in the mid-+,os; this was not a case of a
democratic peace between two well consolidated democracies. In this period,
the shared interests and perhaps shared identities came rather from a common
sense of vulnerability: the shared conviction that democracy in both countries
was extremely fragile and that non-democratic forces were by no means out of
the game (witness the military rebellions in Argentina in April +,;, January
+,, and December +,,o). Especially in Argentina, this perception led to the
overt use of foreign policy as a means of protecting fragile and newly established
democracy. In part this reflected the close and very concrete link between con-
flict resolution abroad and democratic consolidation at homethe need to pro-
mote regional pacification in order to deprive the nationalists of causes around
which to mobilize opinion, to demand a greater political role, or to press for
militarization and rearmament. Thus regional peace becomes central to the
maintenance of successful civilmilitary relations at home. But it also reflected
the perceived importance of building up the idea and the rhetoric of external
support: the idea of a club of states to which only certain governments are
allowed to belong and in which cooperation becomes the international expres-
sion and symbol both of new democracies and of the end of old rivalries.
Andrew Hurrell
Edward D. Mansfield and Jack Synder,Democratization and the danger of war, International Security:o: +,
Summer +,,, pp. .
For a strong Kantian account of Southern Cone international politics, see Philippe C. Schmitter,
Change in regime type and progressin international relations, in Emanuel Adler and Beverly
Crawford, eds, Progressin postwar international relations(New York, NY: Columbia University Press, +,,+).
hurrell 8/6/98 4:18 pm Page 536
Elsewhere, however, the cases of Colombia and Venezuela and of Peru and
Ecuador seem to support the thesis that domestically insecure liberalizing states
in unstable neighbourhoods pose potential problems for regional security. But,
much more importantly,Latin America is a critical case for the two sets of issues
around which the democratic peace debate has come to revolve: the question
of definitions, and the identification of plausible causal logics.
Establishing the existence of a democratic peace has involved many argu-
ments about definitions.What counts as war? How do you code democracies?
Many of the most hotly contested issues find ready examples in Latin America
defining war in such a way as to excludes interventions by one democracy
against another (as with US involvement in Allendes overthrow in Chile);
defining war only in terms of actual fighting above a certain level of intensity
(if you count militarized interstate disputes, then Latin America looks much
more conflictual);looking only at international war and thereby neglecting the
many difficult issues raised by civil wars and domestic violence.
The second reason has to do with the processes and causal logics that might
explain the democratic peace.There is quite general agreement that the struc-
tural constraints of democratic institutions and of democratic politics can only
with great difficulty be used to explain the existence of a separatepeace exclu-
sively between democracies. Hence much discussion has revolved around so-
called normative explanations, based not on the role of democratic institutions
in pushing actors towards pacific behaviour by affecting their instrumental
calculus of interest, but rather on the process by which democratic norms work
to shape the motivations, perceptions and practices of actors and the way in
which democracies externalize their domestic political norms of tolerance and
compromise in their foreign relations, thus making war with others like them
Democratic politics, so claim the proponents of this explanation, foster a very
different climate from authoritarian rule. Rule-governed change is a basic
principle.The use of coercive force outside the structure of rules is proscribed.
Trust,reciprocity and the rule of law are at the heart of democratic politics.And
yet this thesis, positing the externalization of domestic democratic norms, is
particularly difficult to apply convincingly to patterns of conflict in Latin
America: first, because the fortunes of domestic democracy have fluctuated so
widely while regional order has been relatively stable; and second, because of
the striking contrast between frequently high levels of domesticdisorder and
social violence (even under democratic governments) and the relative degree
of inter-statepeace.
Security in Latin America
These issuesare discussed very well in Raymond Cohen,Pacific Unions: a reappraisal of the theory that
democraciesdo not go to war with each other, Review of International Studies:o: , July +,,.
Steve Chan,In search of democractic peace: problemsand promise, Mershon International StudiesReview
+, +,,;, p. ;;.
hurrell 8/6/98 4:18 pm Page 537
Economic integration and regional security
As other articles in this issue demonstrate, the past decade has witnessed a very
significant expansion of regional economic integration. Mercosur has proved
far more successful and durable than many predicted, and is striving both to
deepen the integration process among its members and to broaden its
membership through association agreements with Chile, Bolivia and the
Andean Pact. Following the historic shift in US trade policy that led to the
creation of NAFTA, the process of hemispheric integration has moved
progressively, if unevenly and ambiguously, forward with the Santiago summit
setting the agenda for the next stage of negotiations.
Beyond formal interstate integration agreements, it is also clear that
regionalization has become an increasingly important phenomenon.
Regionalization refers to the growth of societal integration within a region and
to the often undirected processes of social and economic interaction involved
in this trend. One element is economic. Although seldom unaffected by state
policies, the most important driving forces for economic regionalization come
from markets, from private trade and investment flows, and from the policies
and decisions of companies. But another important element is societal and
transnational: increasing flows of people, the development of multiple channels
and complex social networks by which ideas, political attitudes and ways of
thinking spread from one area to another, leading to the creation of a trans-
national regional civil society.
How do these processes interact with security? Liberals have traditionally
argued that economic liberalization and increasing levels of interdependence
promote peace: first, at the state level, by affecting material incentives and by
pressing governments towards new forms of institutionalized cooperation; and
second, by promoting increased societal integration which will lead social
groups and political actors to develop new conceptions of interest, communi-
ty and identity. More recent constructivist writing has taken this interpretation
further. Institutionalized economic regionalism is important to security, not
because the costs of fighting become too high according to some abstract mea-
sure, but rather because it anchors and promotes processes of socialization and
enmeshment through which definitions of interests and identities may shift,
altering the values of members and the ways in which costs/ benefits and ratio-
nal action are construed.The positive mutual reinforcement between domestic
social and political change in postwar Germany and the countrys position in a
strongly institutionalized process of integration provides the clearest example of
this idea.
Within Latin America, Mercosur represents the best case which can plausibly
be taken to illustrate these liberal arguments. Here politics, economics and
Andrew Hurrell

See Andrew Hurrell,Explaining the resurgence of regionalism in world politics, Review of International
Studies:+, October +,,.
hurrell 8/6/98 4:18 pm Page 538
security have been continually intertwined (albeit in very different ways to the
twin-track EC/ NATO model), and the positive reinforcement between them
has been and remains particularly important in sustaining the momentum of
In addition, there are various ways in which economic regionalism can be
viewed as a means of managingpotential security challenges.There is a widely
shared sense that new security issues need to be tackled within the context of
economic development because of the resistance of new security challenges
to resolution via traditional security instruments.
Thus regional and interna-
tional financial institutions have increasingly come to grapple with political and
security issues (for example in Central America), thereby adding peace condi-
tionalitiesto the ever-growing list of non-economic factors that influence their
lending policies.
A further way of linking economic regionalism to security is through the
idea of inclusion:extending the benefits of economic regionalism to potentially
unstable areas and manipulating the criteria for admission to a regional
grouping. Even if a security community has been created within a given
region, security will depend crucially on what happens around the boundaries
of that community. Hence the central strategic justification for EU
enlargement, with its accompanying rhetoric about the impossibility of
remaining an island of peace in a troubled sea.The idea here is to manipulate
both the prospect of eventual membership and the creation of specific criteria
for admission in order to lock surrounding states into policies that are deemed
to promote stability: economic liberalization, protection of human rights and
democracy, and changes in military structure and organization (through
Partnership for Peace).
This notion of security through inclusion can be applied to aspects of US
policy towards Mexico in the process leading up to NAFTA. But the lack of a
firm domestic consensus about the wisdom of NAFTA suggests that there is
much more ambiguity here than in the European case. Moreover, at both the
administrative and the political level there is deep ambiguity as to whether US
interests would be best served by further inclusionary moves (especially outside
the narrow economic sphere). Although Mercosur has developed as an
explicitly political as well as economic grouping (similar to the EU but very
different from NAFTA), its members have only begun to consider the
management of political membership criteria (most notably in the case of
Paraguay) and what may happen as the grouping extends northwards into
politically far more troubled areas.
Finally, economic regionalism is important to security management because
it influences the ways in which security interests are defined and understood.
Security in Latin America
Janne E. Nolan,The concept of cooperative security, in Janne E. Nolan, ed., Global engagement: coopera-
tion and security in thest century(Washingston, DC: BrookingsInstitution, +,,), p. .
hurrell 8/6/98 4:18 pm Page 539
Higher levels of economic and societal interdependence increase the degree to
which states are vulnerable to developments beyond their borders.The creation
of formalized economic regionalism (as in the cases of NAFTA and Mercosur)
both promotes further interdependence and dramatically increases the political
stakes in the stability of ones neighbours. Increased integration is also likely to
expand the range of involvement by non-governmental organizations acting
within an increasingly dense regional transnational civil society.As is evident in
many cases of social conflict in the region (Colombia, Mexico, Peru), NGOs
and issue networks are deeply involved in domestic politics. In Central
America, for example, human rights and development NGOs have become
conduits for significant material and financial resources, as well as providers of
both political legitimacy and international voice.They can therefore play a key
role in influencing what sorts of issues come to be defined in security terms
and their degree of regional political salience.
Economic regionalism can, however, be much more directly implicated in
the generationof insecurity.The liberalization of economic exchanges facilitates
illicit flows of all kinds, especially when this liberalization forms part of a more
general shift in power from the state to the market. Such illicit activities may
then spill over into interstate relations. Within Latin America, the persistent
tensions along the ColombianVenezuelan border provide one example of
how uncontrolled illicit flows can fuel interstate tensions.The recent concern
in Uruguay and Paraguay caused by the potential spill over of Brazilian rural
violence provides another example.
Successful economic integration is likely to be socially destabilizing and
promote processes of change that erode established identities,undermine estab-
lished ways of conducting national politics and, perhaps most seriously, reduce
state capacity and state coherence.The socio-cultural challenges of integration
can threaten what has been termed societal security,and there is no doubt that
this has been one element in the Zapatista rebellion in Chiapas. In addition, the
very power of a dynamic and prosperous region can provoke disturbing
changes in the social structures and political arrangements of neighbouring
states (Mexico in this region;but consider also the cases of Slovakia or Turkey).
Liberalization and integration can also erode the capacity of states to respond
to security challenges, in three main ways. In the first place, economic
liberalization can undermine established patterns of coreperiphery or
federalstate relations because of the degree to which the benefits of liberalization
are unequally distributed.Second,the abdication of Latin American states of their
older regulatory and redistributive roles may well make it far more difficult to
forge durable alliances with those groups in civil society most affected by
marginality, poverty and inequality.While repression and coercion may still be
available options, the capacity of the state to coopt opposition and to buy off
discontent has diminished dramatically.As Alan Knight has argued, what is novel
about the Zapatista rebellion in Chiapas is not the Zapatistas but rather the very
Andrew Hurrell
hurrell 8/6/98 4:18 pm Page 540
different position of the Mexican state.
Third,economic integration erodes dis-
tinctions between domestic politics and foreign policy, drawing in external
actors (both states and NGOs). The result is often a deeply problematic
relationship between domestic attempts to manage and contain violence and a
changing set of international and transnational pressures.This two-level dynamic
has been central to the difficulties of managing social conflict in both Colombia
and Mexico.
Whether these negative features become serious clearly depends on how they
are managed. The early theorists of regional integration understood that
integration would produce tensions, but assumed that these would lead
ultimately both to deeper integration and to the construction of effective
regional institutions.The USMexico case underlines the difficulties with this
rather cosy liberal logic. Clearly, deepening societal and economic
interdependence has created a series of negative cross-border externalities
(drugs, migration, environmental damage). But although there has been a
gradual process of increased institutionalized cooperation, these problems have
generated a good deal of political conflict. In the cases of drugs and migration,
much of this conflict has been tied up with the degree to which militarization
and securitization are appropriate policy responses. Indeed, the increased
militarization of the border stands as a telling reminder of the wide range of
unresolved policy conflicts.
New security challenges
As in other parts of the world,the terms of the security debate in Latin America
have shifted dramatically over the past ten years. The Cold War discourse of
communist subversion has disappeared and the classical geopolitical discourse
of national security has mostly (but by no means entirely) receded into the
background. There are increasingly common and increasingly strident
arguments that security should be broadened to include drug trafficking, drug-
related violence and criminality, migration and refugees, environmental
degradation, and worsening public order in the face of different forms of
internal violence.These new security threats, it is argued, derive not from state
strength, military power and geopolitical ambition, but rather from state
weakness and the absence of political legitimacy; from the failure of states to
provide minimal conditions of public order within their borders; from the way
in which domestic instability and internal violence can spill into the
international arena; and from the incapacity of weak states to form viable
building blocks of a stable regional order and to contribute towards the
resolution of broader common purposes.
Security in Latin America
Alan Knight,Political violence in postrevolutionary Mexico, mimeo +,,;, p. :.
hurrell 8/6/98 4:18 pm Page 541
Such views for an expanded security agenda rest on three core arguments.
The first is that the critical question, Whose security? can no longer be
adequately answered exclusively in terms of the statein other words, that the
referent object of security should include, below the state, individuals and other
collectivities (minorities, ethnic groups, indigenous peoples) and, above the
state, humanity at large (people in general, and not just the citizens of a partic-
ular state) and also the biosphere on which human survival depends. The
second is that any meaningful analysis of security must consider the importance
of a much wider range of threats, including threats whose origin lies in
environmental destruction, in economic vulnerability and in the breakdown of
social cohesion.And the third is that responsibility for the provision of security
rests not just on the state but on international institutions and on NGOs and
civil society operating within an increasingly active transnational civil society.
Even a cursory survey of the region would seem to suggest that a great deal
of recent instability and insecurity should be understood in this way.The most
pressing issues on the security agenda are internal or transnational rather than
interstate. Significant parts of the region are beset by high levels of social
violence which often has deep historical roots but is exacerbated by drug
trafficking and drug-related criminality, by social inequality and
marginalization, by migration and refugee flows, and by environmental
degradation. In countries such as Peru, Colombia and Mexico there has been
a marked decline in the capacity of the state and state structures to deal with
these problems, as witnessed by the strikingly high levels of impunity, the
existence of large areas where the writ of the state barely runs, and increased
contamination of the state and military by drug-related corruption.
The declining capacity of the state to enforce legitimate order has led to the
privatization of violence as diverse social groups are increasingly able to
mobilize armed force; but also to the privatization of security as social groups
seek to protect themselves, whether through vigilantism, the formation of
paramilitary groups or the purchase of security within an expanding
commercial marketplace. Finally, while the end of the Cold War contributed to
the negotiated end to political insurgency in Nicaragua, El Salvador and
Guatemala, the post-Cold War period has seen a new generation of insurgency
and political violence in the regionin Chiapas and Guerrero in Mexico and
in the expanding activities of the FARC and ELN in Colombia.
We should be somewhat cautious of interpreting these problems through the
extreme and exaggerated categories of failed states and coming anarchy that
are often applied to other parts of the developing world.There has not been a
sudden move in the region away from the condition of secure and stable states.
Latin American states, even relatively effective and efficient ones, have never
Andrew Hurrell
For three important examplessee Richard H. Ullman,Redefining security, International Security,
Summer +,; Jessica Tuchman Matthews,Redefining security, Foreign Affairso, Spring +,,; and
Emma Rothschild,What issecurity?, Dedalus, Summer +,,.
hurrell 8/6/98 4:18 pm Page 542
been particularly striking examples of Weberian rationality. Their struggle to
assert effective territorial control, to secure a favourable balance of military
power against challengers, and to develop efficient administrative structures was
a long-drawn-out, uneven and contested process. Levels of violence have var-
ied enormously across countries and across time. Within countries there has
been great variation between regions or between national and provincial poli-
tics. Moreover, in the history of state formation in Latin America distinctions
between public and private violence were (and remain) hard to draw with any
clarity.The power and authority of the state often depended on local political
elites whose power in turn rested on their ability to use or threaten (and to
offer protection from) physical violence, sometimes employing private gunmen
or henchmen, at other times public officials.
It is also important to underline the sheer complexity and multiplicity of
violence. Both academic analysts and policy-makers are understandably
attracted by neat categorizations. It is common to distinguish between political
violence on the one hand (planned,deliberate,carried out by organized groups
of society against other groups) from individual violence on the other (pur-
poseless, random, individual violence).
Yet such a dichotomy misses out far
too much and we clearly need further categories, in order to recognize the
distinctness of, for example, political violence(civil wars and struggles between
civilian and military groups;armed insurrection and revolutionary movements;
terrorism); entrepreneurial violence (criminal organization whose key
characteristic is the capacity to supply private protection or to use violence for
profit); community violence (responses to lack of effective state power by
communities to enforce social norms, seen most notably in the growing
prevalence of vigilantism); and everyday individual-level criminal violence.
Most internal conflict in Latin America is characterized by a multiplicity of
different forms of violence which overlap and are superimposed on one
another in complex ways which vary from place to place and from period to
Thus what may appear at one time as entrepreneurial violence or
community violence can at another juncture take on a more overtly political
character. Indeed, one of the most important policy issues facing governments
is whether to legitimize an outbreak of social violence by treating it as a polit-
ical act and attempting to draw its leaders into open political dialogue. This
complexity,and the close coexistence of high levels of economic prosperity and
successful democratic consolidation with social violence, marginality and
human rights abuses, also make a nonsense of the view that the post-Cold War
world can be neatly divided into zones of peace and zones of conflict.
Security in Latin America

Tina Rosenberg, Children of Cain: violenceand theviolent in Latin America(New York, NY: Morrow, +,,+),
p. +:; and similarly in David Keane, Reflectionson violence(London:Verso, +,,o). Security analystshave
concentrated overwhelmingly on what istaken to be political violence, a recent example being Michael
Brown, ed., Theinternational dimensionsof internal conflict (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, +,,o).
For a typology of the multiple violencesthat characterize recent Colombian politics, see Comisin de
Estudiossobre la Violencia, Colombia: violencia y democracia, th edn (Bogot, Editorial Universidad
Nacional, +,,), pp. ++o:.
Max Singer and Aaron Wildavsky, Thereal world order: zonesof peace/ zonesof turmoil (Chatham, NJ:
Chatham House Publishers, +,,).
hurrell 8/6/98 4:18 pm Page 543
On closer inspection, however, this new security agenda turns out to be a
good deal more ambiguous and contested than this picture would suggest.Why,
after all, should these clearly serious and pressing problems be considered as
security issues and, more particularly, as regional security issues? One answer is
normative.As a simple matter of morality, it is argued, security is fundamentally
about the promotion of human safety in the face of all kinds of existential
threats. The difficulty with this argument is that large-scale group violence
cannot be analysed in terms of the sum of individual insecurities.The use of
coercive force and social violence between states or other social groups needs
to be understood according to its own distinctive logic and, as such, remains at
the heart of security analysis.
In addition, the normative argument cannot tell
us anything very useful about the politics of security: why only certain issues
come to be viewed as security problems and what the consequences of those
choices may be.
A second answer also seeks objectivity,but of a material rather than a moral vari-
ety. On this view, new security challenges should be viewed as regional security
problems only where drugs, social upheaval, political violence or environmental
destruction creates a negative physical externality that directly affects neighbour-
ing states.What happens within states is regionally significant in security terms
only if there are identifiable material linkages or externalities that impinge on
neighbouring states.
The difficulty, again, is that this fails to provide an accurate
account of how the regional security agenda is actually constructed politically.
It is misleading to claim that violent internal conflict almost always affects
and involves neighbouring states, thereby undermining regional stability.
Historically Latin America is distinctive in that high levels of domestic violence
and social conflict have coexisted with a relatively low level of interstate wars.
It is also the case that much serious domestic violenceeven very large-scale
social conflict such as the violencia in Colombiahas remained largely
contained within national borders. In this respect the region is more fortunate
than most other parts of the developing world. State structures are more secure
and durable. Ethnic cleavages are less menacing although not entirely absent,
especially in the Andean republics and Central America. And the stability of
borders is not called into question by nationalist or secessionist movements.But
where internal violence has spilled over,whether during or since the Cold War,
it has not been solely the result of material externalities.
Andrew Hurrell

It isthis, rather than the problem of conceptual fuzziness, that representsthe most seriousproblem with
expanded notionsof security. For a recent discussion see Lawrence Freedman,International security:
changing targets, Foreign Policy++o, Spring +,,.
For a thorough elaboration of thisview see David Lake,Regional security complexes: a systems
approach in David A. Lake and Patrick Morgan, eds, Regional orders: buildingsecurity in a newworld
(University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, +,,;).
Michael Brown,Introduction, in Brown, ed., Theinternational dimensionsof internal conflict, p. .
Indeed, Malcolm Deassuggeststhat there may in fact be a link between levelsof domestic violence and
interstate conflict, and that Colombianswere able to continue fighting among themselvesprecisely
because of the absence of external enemies. See Malcolm Deas,Canjesviolentos: reflexionessobre la
violencia, in M. Deasand F. Gaitan Daza, eds, DosEnsayosexpeculativossobrela violencia en Colombia
(Bogata: Tercer Mundo Editores, +,,), pp. :o+.
hurrell 8/6/98 4:18 pm Page 544
Without neglecting either normative commitments or the importance of mate-
rial forces,security analysis needs to be very aware of the variety of ways in which
security threats are defined and constructed.Take,for example,the claim that drug
trafficking has become the most serious threat to the national security of the
region.This can mean many different things that need to be separated out analyt-
ically: first, a very traditional challenge to statesecurity because of the size of the
illicit drug economy or because of the violence to which the drug trade gives rise;
second, an equally traditional challenge to regimesecurity because of the corrosive
impact of the drug trade and drug economy on traditional political structures;
third,a challenge tosocietal securitybecause of the erosion of trust and cooperation
within both political institutions and civil society;and fourth,a challenge to human
securitybecause of the worsening conditions of social order and, all too common-
ly,because of the erosion of human rights by governments and militaries intent on
suppressing drug production and the drug trade.The nature of the response will
vary greatly according to the particular kind of security that is being emphasized.
We also need to take great care in unravelling precisely how problems come
to be treated as security problems;how they are securitizedto use Ole Waevers
inelegant but rather useful term.
Here the critical point is that the actors
involved in the process of securitization may be wholly distinct from the
objects of security.An issue becomes a security issue because a particular group
or institution has successfully forced it on to the security agenda, not because
it is in some objective sense important or threatening. The process of threat
creation (the how) is therefore a central part of the explanation (the why).
Finally, the successful translation of an issue into a security issue is important
because the language of security is far from innocent and has important
political implications. Security is often used in order to highlight the
importance of an issue and to build political supportas is clearly the case with
the war on drugs in the United States.Yet, while liberals are themselves often
attracted by this strategy (as in the case of environmental security), they are all
too aware that securitization can often lead to calls for militarization and for
the adoption of distinctly illiberal policies. Thus, drawing Latin American
militaries into the war against drugs or into the provision of public order
carries with it a very high risk of repeating the human rights abuses and
brutality of the past, not least because militaries are much more likely than
police forces to think in terms of enemies.
The absence of clear links between political democracy and regional order does
not mean that the region is ripe for conflict.As indicated earlier, there are many
other factors which can be used to explain the history of relative interstate peace.
But it does mean that the mantra of democracy and democracy promotion
Security in Latin America

Ole Waever,On securitization and desecuritization, in Ronnie D. Lipschutz, ed., On security(New York,
NY: Columbia University Press, +,,).
hurrell 8/6/98 4:18 pm Page 545
cannot be seen as an alternative to the effective management of regional securi-
ty. Equally, while economic integration may bring many benefits, it also poses a
series of challenges that have not been sufficiently addressed and which, if
unmanaged, could become more serious in the years ahead. Regionalism is an
extremely complex process made up of not one but a series of competing logics
logics of economic and technological transformation and societal integration;
logics of powerpolitical competition; logics of security; and logics of identity,
community and sovereignty.There is no reason at all to suppose that these logics
automatically tend towards social or regional stability, especially given the weak-
ness of regional institutions and the fragility of many states.
In terms of interstate security, the challenges facing the region include the
development of more effective collective responses to old-style border conflicts
which may be exacerbated by weakened state capacities, uncertain domestic
politics and the destabilization of border regions as a result of processes of
regionalization. In the Southern Cone the need is to protect what has been
gained over the past decade from disagreements over foreign policy,from external
shocks (e.g. the resumption of US sales of sophisticated weapons) and from the
strains that will accompany the technological modernization of armed forces.
In terms of the new security agenda, developing regional responses will be a
far more difficult enterprise, for three reasons. First, because, below the level of
rhetoric,there is very little consensus as to what the new security agenda means
or implies. The emphasis placed on these new security issues is uneven and
varies considerably across the region, reflecting wide differences in state
interest, in civilmilitary relations, and in historical experiences and traditions.
Moreover, the idea of an expanded security agenda is itself intrinsically
complex and contested, and a great deal hangs on the ways in which core
concepts are understood and employed politically. Second, because unlike
traditional threats which press allies together, problems such as drug-related
criminality, migration and terrorism tend to undermine regional consensus
because of the enormous difficulties of defining state interests and, especially,
deciding upon the appropriate role for the use of military force. And third,
because of the two factors which together condition the politics of security in
the Americas. On the one hand, deeper and denser interdependence across the
region is increasing levels of mutual vulnerability, and any effective regional
order will consequently impinge very deeply on how societies are organized
domestically. But on the other, the region is still marked politically by
inequalities of powerbetween Brazil and its neighbours within South
America, but, much more importantly, between the United States and the rest
of the hemisphere. It is this combination of interdependence and inequality
that makes regional security management so difficult.
Andrew Hurrell
The Falklands/ Malvinasquestion providesa good example of where the economic development of
natural resourcesmay well come to strain the delicate processof confidence-building that hasbeen
developed through the +,,os: not just because a large-scale development of oil reservesraisesthe
material stakesinvolved in interstate bargaining, but also because development will affect the lifestyles
and societal security of the islandersand because regionalization processeswill inevitably open new
patternsof interaction with the mainland.
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