• Filling the Structural Gap: Geopolitical Links Explaining the South American Defense Council

    Víctor M. Mijares (see profile)
    Regionalism, South America
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    Objective/context. In 2008-09, nascent Union of South American Nations, UNASUR, agreed and formalized the creation of one of its most ambitious bodies, its Defense Council. The origin of this council was surprising as some rival states, as well as others whose security and defense interests were distant from each other, participated in it. Its performance was marked by this contradictory origin, which resulted in its failure a decade later, in 2018, with the division of UNASUR. This article proposes elements for a complementary explanation of the trajectory of the UNASUR Defense Council, pointing out geopolitical links. Methodology: This is an empirical case study that combines quantitative and qualitative analysis of both national capacities and contemporary geopolitical trends. It also includes the review of official documents and the presentation of processed results of semi-structured interviews with South American diplomats and military officers. Conclusions: The main contribution of this article is that it shows how global (de)concentration, the geostrategic (re)orientation of the United States and the contemporary geopolitical dynamics of the regional institutions, form an adequate set of causes for a structural explanation on the origin, performance and decline of the South American Defense Council. Originality: Unlike most of the giving explanations about the fate of the South American Defense Council, and UNASUR in general, focused mainly on domestic causes, this article presents a systemic and structural explanation that links institutional and institutional dynamics. South American security with global processes of greater scope. In addition, it reaches potentially replicable conclusions in other regions and periods from a combination of quantitative and qualitative research tools.
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    4 years ago
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