Prospects for Collective Security in the Western Hemisphere

By Wesley A. Fryer

Completed 31 August 1993. A 1992-93 Fulbright-Garcia Robles grant administered by the U.S.-Mexico Commission for Educational and Cultural Exchange supported this research. Opinions expressed in this paper are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of the U.S. Government, the U.S. Department of Defense, or the U.S. Air Force. Thanks to Michael L. Dziedzic, Jose Thiago Cintra, Guadelupe Gonzalez, Rodney Propst and C.J. Polk for their generous assistance which made this research possible. Please contact the author if quoting. Comments are welcome!

Table of Contents:

  1. Introduction
  2. Transformations in U.S. Policy and in Latin America
  3. The Emerging Perception of Security Threats in the Americas
  4. Obstacles to Collective Security in the Americas
  5. Collective Security Goals in the Americas
  6. Developing a Strategy for American Collective Security
  7. Reorientation of Armed Forces in the New World Order
  8. Normative Analysis of Collective Security Prospects
  9. Conclusion
  10. Works Cited

The idea of cooperation between the nations of the Western Hemisphere to address mutual economic and security concerns dates back to the first Inter-American Congress, held in 1889 in Washington D.C. Since that time, the Inter-American system has developed into a diverse institution involved in activities ranging from election observation to helping encourage the return of a democratically elected president ousted by a military coup d'etat. Despite the long way the Organization of American States (OAS) has come since its humble beginnings, the nations of the Americas have historically not had consistent success cooperating to resolve mutual security concerns.

Numerous unilateral military actions by the United States to defend its "vital interests" have been a frequent symbol of the Inter-American system's failure to prevent conflict through negotiation and joint action. During the Cold War, the ability of OAS members to cooperate on security issues was further eroded by the wide gap that grew between the threat perceptions of the United States and the nations of Latin America. Anti-communism dominated U.S. foreign policy for over forty years, and made the idea of hemispheric collective security a pipe dream for all but the few years immediately following World War II.

The dissolution of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War can potentially trigger a paradigmatic change in the strategic thinking of United States policymakers, however. This essay proposes that the end of the Cold War has brought enhanced prospects for collective security to the Americas, which will be based fundamentally on a shared perception of the security "threats" faced by nations today. Although many challenges still exist, the nations of the Western Hemisphere have the realistic potential to advance a common agenda through collective security cooperation. Such a development would produce short and long term benefits for all nations involved, and move the Inter-American system closer to Simón Bolívar's dream of a hemisphere unified in its efforts to achieve peace and prosperity.

To understand these potential changes, it is necessary to examine the transformations which have occurred in U.S. foreign policy since the end of the Cold War as well as the political and economic developments in Latin America that have swept over the region since the early 1980s. A shared perception of non-traditional threats to national security is emerging in the Americas, and this trend must be examined along with the issues which still obstruct the emergence of a common American security agenda. The collective security goals which could potentially comprise this agenda should be examined, as well as the foundation for a collective strategy to advance these goals. Armed forces must reorient themselves to adjust to the changing threat environment, and policymakers must carefully understand this process as well as the overall desireablity of enhanced collective security efforts in the hemisphere. Although it will be a long process, leaders of the Aemricas can potentially advance common security goals on a multilateral basis, once they become unified by shared perceptions of security threats and surmount remaining obstacles to increased cooperation. Although a multitude of other issues also demand attention, promotion of economic development that benefits all sectors of society should be the cornerstone of American leaders' vision for future cooperative relations.

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Transformations in U.S. Policy and in Latin America

Before exploring the effect which the end of the Cold War has had on prospects for collective security within the Americas, it is helpful to define what is meant by "collective security." The term commonly refers to the joint effort among nations to address and overcome perceived threats to national security. Definitionally, therefore, a common perception of what constitutes a "threat to national security" is a prerequisite for the creation of a collective security regime.

A clearly shared threat perception existed for a brief time in the Western hemisphere during and immediately following World War II. In response to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the Inter-American Defense Board (IADB) was established in June, 1942, as a mechanism to orchestrate the combined defense of the hemisphere from external military attack. Fear of Soviet expansionist ambitions led many Latin American nations to sign the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance, also known as the Rio treaty, with the United States in 1947.

By 1948, when the OAS Charter was ratified in Bogota, Colombia, fear of manipulation by the United States had overshadowed Latin American governments' fear of extra-hemispheric communist aggression. For this reason, the IADB was not incorporated as part of the OAS, and the Rio treaty was left without a formal military organization (Dziedzic 5-6). This gap in threat perceptions between the United States and Latin America continued to widen during the Cold War, although "the prevention of communist encroachment into the hemisphere" was used by several military governments as a justification for taking power from civilian leaders.

It was in this way that the Inter-American system acquired its present collective security organization, the IADB. The mission of the IADB, to protect the hemisphere against external aggression, has been bypassed by history and is now largely archaic. The principles which led to the creation of the IADB and form the foundation of the Inter-American system were not based on the Cold War, however. The 1936 Inter-American Conference for the Maintenance of Peace established the principles of consultation and collaboration between American states on security issues. During the conference, every member nation accepted without reservation the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of other states, prohibiting unilateral armed aggression as well as political and economic coercion. This conference opened the door to Inter-American collective security action not only in cases of threatened aggression to a member state, but also in circumstances where the peace of the region is threatened (Carlos Rey 4). Because the Cold War did not establish these guiding principles for Western hemispheric collective security, these principles endure today despite the Cold War's end.

Enhanced prospects for collective security in the Americas are largely attributable to the disappearance of anti-communism as the guiding principle of U.S. foreign policy, rather than changes brought about in Latin America by the end of the Cold War. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw pact has not fundamentally changed Latin American military institutions. Latin American militaries remain staunchly conservative, focused on perceived threats posed by communists and the Left. This orientation was, of course, encouraged and solidified by the United States during the Cold War. Its perserverance is therefore not a surprise. U.S. support of military involvement in Latin American politics over a socialist civilian alternative is hopefully a relic of the past. After World War II, U.S. support of military governments and dictatorships was largely a product of the "ends justify the means mentality" of the Cold War. If U.S. foreign policy truly supports democracy in the new world order, the U.S. cannot support these governments as it did previously. Enhanced chances for collective security are possible between the civilian governments of Latin America and the United States, since U.S. foreign policy is no longer driven by anti-communism.

Latin American nations have historically viewed and explained security dilemmas, such as those existing in Central America in the 1980s, differently from conservatives in the United States. While the U.S. government focused on the extra-hemispheric support received by the Nicaraguan Sandinistas and the Salvadoran FMLN, Latin Americans preferred to focus on what they viewed as the root causes of these conflicts: economic and social inequalities. The end of the Cold War has brought an end to Soviet expansionist goals and activities in Central America and the rest of the hemisphere. Because of this change, the U.S. perception of future regional security dilemmas can correspond more closely to the Latin American view. The possiblility of a common threat perception, the definitional prerequisite for the creation of a collective security regime, is realistic.

Improved prospects for security cooperation are not solely attributable to this change in U.S. foreign policy, however. The trend toward democratic governance and pursuance of the free market economic model, which Latin America has been experiencing since the early 1980s, is also a significant factor. Transfer of power from military to civilian leaders in Argentina (1982), Brazil (1984), Peru (1985), Uruguay (1985), Guatemala (1986), Chile (1990), and Paraguay (1993) is a widely lauded hemispheric phenomenon. Many Latin American militaries have been discredited in their ability to govern because of failed economic policies as well as human rights violations, and have been compelled to relinquish the reins of government to elected civilians. The generally weak economic performance of Latin American economies during the "lost decade" of the 1980s threatened the national security of the region, and convinced some leaders to enact policies reducing protectionist barriers and privatizing inefficient national industries, in a general move toward free market economic practices. Although not completely universal in the hemisphere, the regional trend toward democratic governance and free market economics has improved Latin American perceptions of the United States and its regional policy goals, and bodes well for future American security cooperation.

Despite years of dominance and frequent manipulation by the United States, which discredited the OAS in the eyes of many Latin Americans, the Organization retains the potential to serve collective rather than merely U.S. interests. Development of a reinvigorated Inter-American collective security regime requires a shared security threat perception in the Americas, and emergence of this common vision is possible since the Cold War is over.

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The Emerging Perception of Security Threats in the Americas

An analysis of the ways American nations perceive security threats begins with the fundamental raison d'etre of every nation's military: the protection of territorial integrity. Many Latin American militaries share a common preoccupation with historic border conflicts, and throughout the Cold War viewed this defense of national territory against the possible aggression of neighbors as their primary role. The United States has been reluctant to recognize the legitimacy of these defensive roles for Latin American armed forces, and has tended to view them as unnecessary holdovers of history (Marcella 29). For many Latin American militaries, however, focusing on defending against border incursions has provided the basis of their legitimacy as an institution for decades. Mexico's military is a prime example. Although largely irrelevant due to the absence of neighboring military threats, external defense continues to be the principal stated mission of Mexico's armed forces. Internal defense, civic action and counternarcotics operations are regarded as secondary roles.

Despite this fact, many of the region's archaic border disputes are being resolved. In December 1991, and January 1992, Peru and Ecuador held negotiations over their contested border areas, and Argentina and Chile carried out negotiations over their Andean boundary in 1992. Peru and Bolivia have agreed on permitting Bolivian access to the sea at the port of Ilo, and Peru and Chile are at last implementing the terms of the 1929 Treaty of Ancon. A September 12, 1992, World Court judgement has been agreed upon by Honduras and El Salvador over their conflict with Nicaragua concerning the Gulf of Fonseca (Marcella 14, 25). Through United Nations' mediation, the civil war in El Salvador was also brought to an end in 1992. Salvadoran reconciliation and resolution of age old border conflicts elsewhere in Latin America give cause for optimism in hemispheric security affairs.

In June, 1993, Great Britain announced it will withdraw the 1500 troops it has stationed in Belize since 1981. Removal of British troops is expected to be complete by September 1994. This announcement has raised fears that relations between Belize and Guatemala could again become tense as they did in 1976, when Guatemalan military leaders considered invading Belize (Otis). Although Guatemala's new president, Rimiro de Leon, [VERIFY FULL NAME] has declared his recognition of Belize's sovereignty, the transition following the departure of British soldiers could be potentially explosive. This situation offers another opportunity for the Inter-American community to assume a proactive diplomatic role in the post-Cold War era, and further ease historic border conflicts that have plagued hemispheric relations for decades.

Over time, increased economic ties between the nations of the Americas will help further reduce perceptions of neighboring countries as possible aggressive enemies. Instead, neighboring states will increasingly be viewed as essential economic partners (Dziedzic 3). Interstate relations in the Americas can potentially begin to approach the vision of economically intertwined, non-aggressive, democratic polities described in Immanual Kant's essay "Perpetual Peace."

While state sponsored aggression in the Americas may be a relic of the past, other threats to security clearly abound. These threats are not "new" since the end of the Cold War, but have received increased attention, especially as the United States has struggled to find a new cornerstone for its security engagement policy with Latin America and the rest of the world.

The transnational drug trade, arms smuggling, terrorism, subversion, refugee flows, and environmental degradation are all transnational threats (TNTs) that menace governments' security and legitimacy by weakening institutions of law and order and often replacing central government authority in remote areas (Dziedzic 3). These security threats faced by the nations of the Western Hemisphere are predominantly transnational in nature, characterized by the ease with which they permeate state boundaries. The United States has not fully oriented itself toward these new threats in the post-Cold War environment, however, and the consistent refusal of U.S. leaders to use the trade embargo on Cuba as a tool for negotiation rather than confrontation is an example of past threats continuing to dominate the current U.S. security agenda.

While transnational threats to state security may be more complex to define than was the extra-hemispheric aggression feared by the founders of the IADB, they are not any less insidious or less real a risk to state survival. TNTs pose an increasing threat to the continued existence of many governments in Latin America and must be confronted to avoid disaster. Together, these TNTs represent an emerging shared threat perception that could lead to creation of a new collective security regime in the Americas, if remaining obstacles to cooperation can be overcome.

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Obstacles to Collective Security in the Americas

A common threat perception has not yet entirely emerged among the nations of the Western hemisphere. As in the past, differences exist between the security threats perceived by the United States and those perceived by the majority of Latin American nations. Until differences on the issues of Cuba, drug control, and a fear of continued U.S. hegemony are resolved, the Americas will be prevented from realizing a shared perception of national security threats.

Cuba's current relationship with the United States is a hold-over from the Cold War that has persisted for a variety of reasons. The last Russian troops departed Cuba during the final week of June, 1993, and the country can hardly be considered to pose a military threat to the United States. Without the enormous amounts of economic assistance it previously received from the Soviet Union, Cuba is presently barely able to keep its economy afloat. Since 1990, Cuban imports have fallen seventy percent and GDP has been reduced by thirty percent (Shultz). The days of exported Cuban revolution to Central and South America are over, and numerous analysts have speculated that Fidel Castro's rule in Cuba could also end soon.

One observer predicts "Castro's finish...will probably be an inside job, either by military coup or popular [up]rising, or some combination of the two" (Farmer). During Castro's absence from Cuba to attend the Ibero-American Summit in Brazil during July, 1993, Cuban exile leaders in Miami called on the Cuban military to utilize the opportunity to seize power. Yet after more than thirty years, Castro's hold on power appears strong. It remains to be seen if the socio-economic hardship worsened by the U.S. led trade embargo on Cuba will cause Castro to join the ranks of "Cold War casualties."

Rather than pursue a policy of constructive engagement like the United States has insisted for years is the most effective way to promote reforms in a communist country like China, the U.S. has continued, and even strengthened, its trade embargo on Cuba. The 1992 Cuban Democracy Act, sponsored by U.S. Congressional Representative Robert Torcelli, makes it illegal for ships docking in Cuba to trade in any U.S. port for a period of one year following their Cuban landing [VERIFY]. Cold war bureaucratic inertia is primarily responsible for this continued hardline approach. U.S. policy toward Cuba has remained consistent for over thirty years, since the trade embargo was imposed in 1961, and such consistent foreign policy carries momentum that is not easy to change.

Continued strength in the inertia of the United States' confrontational strategy toward Cuba is guaranteed by the Cuban-American exile community, which has established effective veto power over U.S. Cuban foreign policy. There is not a counter-interest group in the United States to oppose the Cuban exiles' hardline approach to Castro, and their political clout is sizeable. Their influence was evident in the attention south Florida attracted during President Bill Clinton's pre-election campaign, and also in the retraction of Mario Balleza as Clinton's first choice for U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs. Balleza was perceived as being more conciliatory toward Cuba, and could not be tolerated by the U.S. Cuban exile community (Shultz). Because of the enormous political strength of the U.S. Cuban exile community, U.S. policy toward Cuba remains confrontational. The United States is continuing its historic policy toward Cuba, hedging its bets that eventually socio-economic hardship will force an "inside job" overthrowing Castro (Schultz).

U.S. foreign policy toward Cuba drew some Latin American opposition during the Cold War, and protests have strengthened in recent years. Canada surprised many UN observers and delighted Cuban delegates in November, 1992, by voting against a U.S.- sponsored resolution supporting a further tightening of the Cuban trade embargo [VERIFY DATE AND RESOLUTION SPECIFICS]. U.S. policy toward Cuba has not shown signs of changing since President Clinton took office. As long as Cuban exiles continue to wield veto power over U.S. policy toward Cuba, continuance of the trade embargo will be insured and the United States will continue to isolate itself within the American community on security affairs.

Illicit drug production and trafficking is a second subject which spawns divergent perceptions of a security "threat" in the Western hemisphere. The United States has historically viewed the problems posed by illicit drug consumption as originating in the drug producer nations of Latin America. For this reason, U.S. drug policy for decades has emphasized the "supply side" approach to drug control, promoting drug eradication, crop substitution, and interdiction of illicit drug shipments bound for the United States.

Latin Americans, on the other hand, have consistently viewed the drug problem as the product of the enormous demand for consumption which exists in the United States. They have decried the U.S. supply-side approach which blames Latin Americans, and insisted that the U.S. government take more aggressive action to reduce drug consumption by its citizens. Yet many Latin American governments have been forced to confront and fight the drug trade themselves, especially as powerful traffickers have grown in power to openly challenge traditional state authority. Governments have lost effective control over remote areas to drug traffickers, who in some cases have laid seige to vital government institutions of law and order.

The United States has encouraged, and in many cases coerced, Latin American countries to take such an aggressive stand toward drug production and trafficking that the risk of government collapse has been stretched beyond acceptable limits. Colombian voters demonstrated this attitude in 1990 by electing César Gaviria to the presidency. Gaviria promised a less confrontational attack on cocaine traffickers and a reprieve from the devastating wave of violence that swept over the country in the late 1980s, partly in response to the U.S. encouraged extradition policy. Latin American governments have been forced to confront the threats posed to their vital institutions by the international drug trade, but resent U.S. blame for the drug problem as well as U.S. encouragement/coersion for more vigorous drug control programs. These feelings were exacerbated in Latin America during former U.S. President George Bush's declared "war on drugs," which portrayed illicit drug producers and traffickers as the "center of gravity" of U.S. drug control strategy. This difference in opinion over the security threat posed by drugs: who is to blame, the vigor with which supply-side drug control efforts should be pursued, and the ways in which drug control objectives should be advanced, is a second important divergent perception between the United States and Latin America in security affairs that demands resolution.

U.S. hegemony is a final topic that prevents the emergence of a common security threat perception in the hemisphere. Latin American governments refused to incorporate the IADB into the OAS in 1948 because they feared manipulation by the United States in security affairs, and these concerns are still alive today. The strong arm of the United States is acutely sensed and feared in Latin America, especially by strong regional leaders like Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, and Venezuela.

This Latin American fear is justified by history, and is further fueled by the United States' apparent status as the only remaining world superpower. Any nation with substantial numbers of nuclear weapons could be considered a potential military superpower, but the only the United States possesses the combined economic and military power which justifies the title of "global superpower." U.S. national interests are presently served by prohibiting any country from approaching its superpower status, in military or economic terms. The only way for the U.S. to overcome this Latin American fear is by demonstrating, through years of multilateral action, that U.S. interests coincide with regional and global interests. Promotion of human rights, democracy, and economic growth that benefits all sectors of society are universal goals, not simply U.S. national interests. It is highly unlikely that Latin American fears of U.S. hegemony will disappear entirely, but if U.S. foreign policy actions win the confidence of Latin Americans by working multilaterally for shared goals, then perhaps this fear will eventually fade as an obstacle to hemispheric collective security goals as well.

The apparent desire of Latin Americans to "North Americanize" themselves makes reducing the fear of U.S. hegemony more realistic. Beginning with Mexico, Latin Americans have a desire to become incorporated within the North American free trade zone. Historically, many Latin American nations have defined themselves by their opposition to the United States. Yet this tendency is presently undergoing dramatic change (Huntington 43). Latin Americans largely view U.S. liberal democracy and the U.S. economy as models worthy of imitation. Particularly in Mexico, but also in other countries in the region, economic pluralism will inevitably encourage political pluralism. Further democratization in Mexico will significantly improve prospects that Mexican leaders can overcome their historic anti-United States foreign policy perspective and accept a broader role for multilateral organizations like the UN and the OAS. These changes in Latin American attitudes toward the United States suggest the emergence of a more cooperative Inter-American attitude and a corresponding improvement in security relations.

A common security threat perception within the Western hemisphere is beginning to emerge. As age-old historic border conflicts are resolved and economic interdependency increases, Latin American, U.S. and Canadian armed forces will become universally focused on the variety of transnational threats challenging national and regional security. If disagreements over the U.S. hardline policy approach toward Cuba and counternarcotics efforts can be overcome, along with persistent Latin American fears of U.S. hegemony, a common perception of hemispheric security threats could eventually take shape. While not impossible to achieve, these preconditions are certainly formidable and will require many years to be realized. In many cases, the United States is isolated by its own unique security perspective among the nations of the Americas. For this reason, the responsibility to resolve these disagreements lies predominantly on the shoulders of U.S. policymakers. Choices on these issues will shape the collective destiny of the hemisphere.

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Collective Security Goals in the Americas

Once the nations of the Western hemisphere reach consensus on shared threats to national and regional security, development of cooperative programs to address these threats will become a realistic possibility. Before analyzing how the Americas can begin developing programs, however, it will be necessary to formulate the collective security goals of the hemisphere. Instead of merely reacting to crises, nations of the OAS would be best served by establishing and promoting a visionary agenda of mutual American interests. A collective security agenda that seeks to promote resolution of outstanding historic border conflicts, respect for human rights, democratization, military downsizing, resolution of conflicts currently producing refugee flows, and assertive programs to counter TNTs would serve this purpose well.

Some of the past and ongoing efforts to resolve the numerous border conflicts within the hemisphere have already been discussed. Finding acceptable compromises for these potential flashpoints between militaries should take a high priority among the list of American collective security goals. Once these border disputes are satisfactorily resolved, nations will be more open to cooperate in security affairs with their less-threatening neighbors. The Inter-American community can be expected to continue its insistence on the illegitimacy of unilateral state military action. Events in the former Yugoslavia demonstrate that territorial conquest as a motive for war has not disappeared in the new world order, and while the possibility for armed conflict between states in the Americas has diminished, it still persists.

As an example, the Guatemalan armed forces appear to have reluctantly accepted the fact that neighboring Belize is an independent and sovereign nation, which could not be militarily reincorporated into Guatemalan territory without tremendous opposition from the international community. Yet some Guatemalan leaders have varying political agendas to advance, and the uncertainty expected in Belize following removal of British troops in late 1994 could be seized upon by emotional nationalists trying to use a successful military invasion as a springboard to power. Opposition to unilateral intervention in internal state affairs will therefore be an enduring and important principle of the post-Cold War Inter-American system.

Promoting respect for human rights is a goal that already ranks high on the agendas of the UN and the OAS, and should logically receive emphasis in collective security affairs. During the periods of military rule many Latin American countries have experienced, military organizations were loudly criticized for human rights abuses. Police and security forces throughout the region have repeatedly been accused by human rights watch groups of extrajudicial excesses, including torture. [INSERT EXAMPLE] Restoration of faith in and respect for Latin American security forces publicly discredited by human rights abuses will take many years. This type of confidence building can only be achieved through consistent action, similar to those required to reduce Latin American fears of post-Cold War U.S. hegemony. Promotion of respect for human rights must remain a permanant national and regional goal for the Americas, and should be consistently reflected by the actions of U.S., Canadian, and Latin American security forces.

Democratization as a regional goal has a critical element relating to collective security and regional military organizations as well. While not a sufficient requirement, strengthened democracy requires effective subordination of a nation's armed forces to civilian rule. The wide gap which presently exists between Latin American military organizations and their civilian leaders must be narrowed. An isolated military subject to relatively uninformed civilian budgetary control is a potential formula for a coup d'etat. The promotion of positive civil-military relations is an essential hemispheric collective security goal, and a prerequisite for the future success of democracy in the hemisphere.

Latin American military downsizing is an extremely sensitive issue, especially when suggested by a North American, since it seems to imply a U.S. desire to continue hegemonic domination of the region by weakening Latin American military institutions. In recognition of this perception, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, Bernard Aronson, stated in 1992 that "the United States does not seek a new hegemony in the world" and that the U.S. "is not trying to demilitarize the hemisphere" (Marcella 11).

Yet military downsizing is a post-Cold War reality for U.S. armed forces, and can also be pursued in Latin America for both fiscal and social benefit. Demilitarization as a regional goal has already been endorsed by the OAS. During its twenty-second regular session, in 1992 in the Bahamas, the OAS General Committee approved a draft resolution on "Cooperation for Security and Development in the Hemisphere: Regional Contributions to Global Security." The resolution accepts

as a guiding principle of regional disarmament, arms control and limitations policies, the requirement to enhance security and stability at the lowest possible levels of forces consistent with defense requirements and international commitments (OAS 3).

While it is unrealistic to expect the entire hemisphere to follow the Costa Rican example and formally disband their militaries, military downsizing is being and should be pursued further as a collective security goal in the Americas.

Following the demise of externally supported guerrilla movements in Central America during the 1980s, the Nicaraguan and Salvadoran militaries are undergoing significant downsizing. Neighboring countries are viewing the UN-mandated force structure of Salvadoran armed forces as a regional baseline, and are correspondingly maintaining or reducing their militaries in relation to El Salvador's Army. Extensive problems in both countries (with banditry and robbery) point to the difficulties encountered in rapid, drastic reductions in national militaries, however.

In Nicaragua, "recontras," who had previously fought in U.S.-supported Contra forces, have aligned with disgruntled former Sandinista soldiers in armed attacks protesting "broken promises by the government of President Violeta Chamorro." In July, 1993, 150 rebels led an attack that resulted in 45 deaths and 98 other people being wounded (Aleman). Although less organized, El Salvador is also faced with widespread acts of banditry perpetrated principally by former armed participants in the country's civil war. Both of these situations highlight the importance for governments experiencing military downsizing to reallocate resources toward economic development, to prevent instability and chaos from gaining strength as a result of reductions in the armed forces. They also demonstrate the desperate outlook of some Latin Americans, so beset by poverty and meager prospects for economic improvement that robbery appears to be their only viable economic alternative. As former Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has observed, force cannot solve these problems (Global Viewpoint). Only economic development benefiting all sectors of society can bring relief to Nicaragua, El Salvador, and other nations of the globe facing similar problems.

A final element to be included in the collective security agenda of OAS member states is the aggressive confrontation of transnational threats to national and regional security. Developing a coherent strategy of engagement to effectively deal with this myriad of threats is the premier challenge for security strategists in the 1990s. One promising theory of engagement has been proposed by Max Manwaring, who terms TNTs "Grey Area Phenomena," or GAP. The GAP is defined as "threats to a nation-state's ability and willingness 1) to deal with transnational threats to the control of national territory and 2) to control internal organizations seeking violent change within that territory" (Manwaring 1-2).

Recognizing that the outcome of GAP conflict is not based on "the skillful manipulation of violence," Manwaring suggests that outcomes are based on the

1) strength/weakness of government institutions,

2) ability to reduce support for an illegal challenger,

3) type/consistency of outside support for the government,

4) credibility of objectives and degree of organization for unity of effort

5) discipline level and capabilities of security forces, and

6) effectiveness of the intelligence apparatus (Manwaring 4).

Manwaring's theory suggests that by focusing on these elements, governments can improve the effectiveness of their programs designed to confront GAP instability. The transnational nature of GAP threats to national security demands a multilateral, collective response, since the effectiveness of aggressive, unilateral programs is diminished by permeable state boundaries. The "balloon effect" describes the success with which transnational actors, like drug traffickers, can adapt to increased enforcement efforts in one country by shifting operations across international borders. From counternarcotics to illicit arms trafficking, promotion of a GAP theory of engagement on a regional level could significantly enhance the effectiveness of American states seeking to control and reduce transnational threats to security.

Governments beset by low levels of economic growth and facing GAP threats naturally encourage refugee flows, which can affect the national security of neighboring countries as well. The overthrow of democratically elected leaders, like Haiti's November 1991 military coup ousting President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, inevitably lead to political persecutions that increased refugee flows. Situations like these should continue to be addressed by international organizations to promote democratization, respect for human rights, and stability.

Immigration is a broader security concern, however, and the reasons people are motivated to emigrate to another locale are primarily economic. Latin America has for several decades been experiencing mass migrations from rural to urban areas, further challenging already strained infrastructure and public services. In addition, legal and illegal immigration from Mexico and the Caribbean into the United States continues in large numbers. The motivation for these migrations, from rural to urban areas and from Latin America to the United States, is fundamentally economic. Unlike the refugee situations brought on by the 1991 coup d'etat in Haiti and civil wars in Central America during the 1980s, economic migration cannot be effectively addressed by collective security actions. Only economic development in the areas abandoned by migrant workers and their families can change these trends.

Stemming refugee flows (induced by political crises) is an appropriate Inter-American collective security goal, since security actions, such as international mediation, can be undertaken to resolve these situations. Although impacting national security, economically motivated migration cannot be appropriately addressed by a hemispheric collective security regime, and should therefore be left to other international and national organizations oriented toward promotion of economic development.

Resolving age- old border conflicts, promoting respect for human rights, democratization, military downsizing, resolution of conflicts encouraging political refugees, as well as promoting a collective strategy of engagement against TNTs are all logical goals to include in a regional collective security agenda. Identification of mutual interests and goals can produce a shared vision which the nations of the Americas can begin to advance by taking concrete steps on the collective and national levels.

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Developing a Strategy for American Collective Security

Advancement of the security goals of the Western hemisphere will require a series of changes to take place on the collective level of the OAS, as well as a reorientation of the roles and missions of the region's armed forces. Theoretical, as well as concrete, in nature-- these changes are already taking place in some areas and could have far reaching consequences for the security affairs of the Americas. OAS member nations may become enabled to cooperatively promote a shared vision of security goals, as well as a unified security engagement strategy for the twenty-first century.

The first theoretical change needed to advance this common vision is already taking place. A basic principle of the Inter-American system-- the principle of nonintervention in the internal affairs of sovereign states, is gradually being amended in practice by OAS member nations. As currently stated, OAS agreements prohibit any unilateral intervention in the internal affairs of other states; by military, political, or economic means. Respect for this ideal by the United States in Inter-American relations has historically been lacking. One of the operative assumptions of organizations like the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency has been that political activities (like elections) in foreign countries should be "influenced" to produce outcomes favorable to U.S. national interests. Other past U.S. foreign policy actions, including support of coup d'états and direct military interventions in Latin America, were even more blatant violations of this Inter-American principle. It is recognized, therefore, that a wide gap has historically existed between the "ideal" and the "reality" of nonintervention in internal state affairs within the Western hemisphere.

U.S. foreign policy is undergoing a post-Cold War transformation, however, and other nations are also responding to the change in global strategic priorities. Promotion of collective goals on a multilateral basis is now a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy, and is also winning increased acceptance throughout the international community. Monitoring of elections by international observers is becoming common within Latin America. Insistance on absolute respect for state sovereignty, which was a hallmark of the old world order, is giving way to a recognition that sovereignty is naturally eroded by the growing economic interdependency of states as well as the emerging international security agenda. State sovereignty remains important, but its "absolute" nature has diminished along with its influencial role in inter-state affairs.

Following this trend, the principle of nonintervention in the Inter-American system is gradually undergoing amendment to permit multilateral intervention in internal state affairs. The growing acceptance which multilateral actions have won internationally is helping change the attitudes of OAS member nations resistive to this concept, and further democratization in Mexico and other nations will further promote acceptance of these actions. Election monitoring in Paraguay, deployment of international human rights observers to Peru, UN verification of the El Salvador's peace accords, UN directed training of Salvadoran police forces following the end of their civil war, and mediation between Haitian coup leader General Raul Cedras and democratically elected President Aristide, are all examples of UN and OAS actions taken in 1992 and 1993 that constitute some form of "intervention" in the sovereign, internal affairs of American states.

Multilateral action in internal state affairs is a delicate issue within the Americas, and determination of the extent to which such interventions will be permitted is critical. International efforts to resolve Haiti's political crisis are setting an important hemispheric precedent. If the OAS had officially sanctioned a multilateral military intervention in Haiti in the name of democracy and human rights to return President Aristide to power, some Latin Americans would have feared that the door to armed intervention in Cuba for similar reasons would be opened for the United States. Many Latin American nations were acutely aware of this, and nations like Mexico will continue to prevent such a multilateral precendent from being set within the Inter-American system, at least in the near term. Continued attempts to resolve the Haitian political conflict through multilateral, rather than unilateral means, will strengthen prospects for other hemispheric collective security actions in the future.

Aggressive collective security actions taken since the end of the Cold War have originated within the UN Security Council, which reflects the global balance of power much differently than the democratic OAS General Assembly. Because of this difference between the two organizations, this trend is likely to continue unless organizational reforms within the UN or the OAS are adopted. While supporting multilateral actions including election observation and humanitarian relief missions to disaster areas, the OAS will continue to shy away from authorizing Inter-American peacekeeping efforts. Until the previously discussed disagreements in hemispheric security threat perceptions are resolved, Inter-American security resolutions are likely to stop short of deploying an international military force onto another nation's soil to resolve an internal conflict.

If consensus on hemipsheric security threat perceptions can be reached, multilateral military interventions within the Americas, sponsored by the OAS, will become realistic. Once this occurs, structural changes within the OAS could facilitate more effective collective security action. The first of these changes will regard the IADB. The proposed acceptance of the IADB by the General Assembly of the OAS as an "official advisory body" would be a positive initial step toward reforming the hemispheric security architecture. The next important step will be revision of the IADB mission to address shared transnational threats to security, rather than the outdated possibility of extra-hemispheric aggression. Mission revision and expansion of the membership of the IADB are clear steps that can be taken on a collective level to advance mutual security interests in the hemisphere.

Multilateral intervention in internal state affairs is already sanctioned by the OAS, and deployment of election observers and human rights observer teams are two concrete examples of this operative reality. Combined military intervention within the hemisphere has never been sanctioned by the OAS, however, and could require amendment to the OAS Charter. To make armed multilateral interventions acceptable to all OAS member nations, several guiding principles are likely to be established and followed.

Collective armed interventions sanctioned by the OAS will be created as strictly peacekeeping, rather than peacemaking, missions. The consent of the host government will be established as a prerequisite for authorization of deployments addressing strictly internal conflicts. Finally, assignment of troops under an OAS international military commander will likely be a final requirement for Inter-American peacekeeping missions. This last point has met resistance from the United States in past collective security actions in other parts of the world. The U.S. has been reluctant to assign its troops under the command of foreign officers, but UN actions in Somalia in June 1993 set a precedent. U.S. troops were assigned to a UN commander, not from the United States, and participated in joint operations under this command structure. Amendment of the OAS charter to officially permit collective armed intervention, under these guidelines, would strengthen the institution and enable it to more effectively complement the United Nations as a regional arbiter of conflict.

In the short term, however, the UN will continue to take the lead role in international peacekeeping. In negotiations toward an end of Guatemala's civil war, as well as joint efforts to promote a lasting return of democracy to Haiti, the OAS will likely assume a minor role as the UN takes the lead in both multilateral efforts.

Encouraging international military exchange programs and increased civil-military dialog is a final way that collective security goals in the Americas can be advanced. Participation in another country's professional military education programs or completion of military training programs in another country can increase cross-cultural understanding for participants and enhance prospects for further international military cooperation in the long term. Participation by Latin American countries in specially designed U.S. military training courses can develop a better understanding of how military forces subordinate to civilian rule operate in a democracy, and increase participating soldiers' awareness of the importance of respecting human rights during military operations. Personal contact and relationships cultivated through these types of exchanges can have a powerful, positive influence on the attitudes and actions of participating military members. Regional security conferences which enable civilian policymakers to interact with military leaders can help narrow the wide gap that currently exists between these groups in Latin America. Each of these endeavors, whether large or small in scope, can assist in the advancement of shared security goals in the hemisphere.

Although admittedly projecting many years into the future, prospects for developing programs to collectively advance hemispheric security goals are more promising now than ever before. In addition to these collective actions, equally important steps can be taken at the national level by the nations of the Western hemisphere to support mutual security goals and adapt to the changed security threat environment.

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Reorientation of Armed Forces in the New World Order

Some nations within the Americas are already taking concrete steps to realign their militaries to effectively face post-Cold War security realities. As nations downsize their military establishments, finally resolve age-old border disputes, and are increasingly challenged by transnational threats to security, armed forces must become reoriented in their roles and missions.

The logistical capabilities of military forces offer a valuable resource to civilian governments that can be utilized for various societal benefits. Militaries can be oriented to provide disaster relief for a variety of natural and human-made catastrophes. In addition, civic action programs open up innumerable possiblities for engagement of a nation's armed forces to directly benefit the population. Flood control, demining of previously contested border areas, medical immunization efforts to curb disease, and search and rescue operations are a few examples of the beneficial activities that some Latin American military organizations are presently tasked to carry out. Particularly in remote areas, military forces can provide education, health services, transportation, and cooperate in economic development efforts. Each of these latter tasks is being carried out by Brazilian armed forces in isolated jungle areas (Marcella 20). The Mexican military also stands out in the hemisphere for its diverse civic action programs, which it has been involved in since 1921 (Camp 85). Their wide ranging activities include:

reforestation, medical efforts to curb malaria, restoration of schools, cattle rustling prevention, railroad escort service, security backup to police disaster relief, anti-narcotics operations, provision of water to remote areas, protection of archeological sites, immunization programs, and construction of housing and rural roads (Cunningham 174).

Latin American armed forces can provide a variety of beneficial services to their societies through civic action campaigns, and the importance of these efforts will likely intensify as the importance of traditional external defense roles of regional militaries continue to diminish in the future.

Peacekeeping is another mission which Latin American armed forces can reorient toward in the post-Cold War era. Latin American nations participating with United Nation Forces in Kuwait included Argentina, Chile, Venezuela, and Uruguay. Although Constitutional prohibitions in some Latin American countries prevent such involvement in international military actions, peacekeeping is emerging as a viable military mission that can promote collective security interests and simultaneously bolster the perceived public legitimacy of the armed forces (Marcella 22). In nations like El Salvador, which is searching to define its role in society following the end of its civil war, this international peacekeeping role could be particularly important as well as natural. The UN brokered peace accords in El Salvador, which were accepted by the government as well as the guerrillas, is a testament to the constructive potential of international negotiating and peacekeeping efforts. It would be logical for El Salvador's military forces to participate in similar multilateral missions in the future in other parts of the world. Not only would these operations help legitimize the place of the armed forces within Salvadoran society, but it would also support the cause of world peace and advance the security goals shared by most nations of the globe.

In addition to international peacekeeping efforts, drug control is another possible mission for militaries in the Western hemisphere in the post-Cold War threat environment. Militarization of counternarcotics efforts is a delicate political topic in many countries of the hemisphere, but is a present reality in most of them affected by the international drug trade. The easing of restrictions on the free flow of goods and people across international boundaries is expected to continue if free trade becomes a hemispheric trend. This loosening of restrictions will likely facilitate illicit drug trafficking, and the role military organizations will play in Latin American countries forced to address this national security threat is important to examine.

Those opposing militarization of Latin American drug control efforts have presented numerous justifications to support their position. Counternarcotics is not a traditional military mission, and is often regarded as a role which unnecessarily saps military resources that could be used for other purposes, like combatting insurgents. The risk of corruption of military officials is also an important reason cited for keeping the armed forces out of drug control. In countries where the military is heavily involved in counterdrug efforts, like Mexico, cases of officer/soldier corruption have been deliberately portrayed in public as cases of "individual" rather than "institutional" corruption. The prospect that a nation's military institution could itself become widely corrupted by the drug trade and its enormous financial power is universally disagreeable to military and civilian leaders, domestically as well as internationally.

The perception that counterdrug efforts hurt rather than help the nation's people is another rationale for excluding the military from counterdrug operations. This is particularly true in the countries of the Andean ridge. Crop eradication campaigns cast the military in the role of the "bad guys," in the perception of most farmers, who grow coca because it is the most economically viable crop option. Civilian and military leaders prefer to avoid generating negative opinions about the military as an institution, and therefore usually encourage as low a public profile as possible for military drug operations.

Despite these compelling reasons, militaries throughout much of Latin America have become involved in counternarcotics efforts, and this trend has been strongly encouraged by the U.S. government. In cases like Colombia, where narcotraffickers threaten fundamental government institutions, the involvement of the military may be unavoidable. It seems clear, however, that the risks posed by deep military involvement in counternarcotics efforts are serious. For this reason, counterdrug operations in the hemisphere should be militarized as little as possible, leaving drug enforcement to civilian law enforcement organizations. Armed forces can be enlisted to provide limited support assistance for counterdrug activities, but further institutional involvement should be avoided.

Although military roles in the Americas in the post-Cold war era are likely to undergo some realignment, the historic focus of Latin American militiaries will endure. As Gabriel Marcella has observed, "To deny the external defense and security missions [of Latin American armed forces] is the equivalent of disbanding the military institution" (23). Militaries of the region have traditionally focused on the potential aggression of neighboring countries and on the preservation of internal security. While emphasis on these roles may diminish, they will not be foresaken altogether.

Peru is currently facing the most serious revolutionary threat of all the nations in the Americas, but it is not alone. Latent insurgencies and guerrilla groups, in countries including Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Colombia, still pose threats to national security. Without external support, however, the potential for such groups to wage successful violent revolutions against existing governments is small. The nexus between drug producers, traffickers, and guerrilla groups, especially in the Andean region, provides mutual support for these movements that must be addressed. Latin American militaries will continue to fight against armed insurgents within their national borders until a political resolution is found to the guerrillas' demands (as in El Salvador); armed insurgents are effectively eliminated (as in Argentina and Chile); or economic, social, and political conditions improve in the respective countries to a degree where guerrillas no longer believe violent confrontation is prudent.

The role of the Inter-American community in helping resolve these conflicts will be predicated on the willingness of subject governments and insurgent groups to accept international mediation, observer missions, and peacekeeping forces. Acceptance of mediation is only an initial step toward resolution of an internal conflict. As demonstrated by the UN brokered negotiations between the Guatemalan government and insurgents, participating groups must be receptive to significant compromises and reforms. As of mid-1993, the Guatemalan government remained opposed to guerrilla demands for reduced military influence in politics, and prosecution of military commanders responsible for gross human rights violations during the nation's 39 year civil war. Thus, as in the former Yugoslavia, violent conflict continues in Guatemala despite the efforts of international negotiators.

Inter-American collective security action, whether it is international mediation or observation of elections, is not a panacea for internal conflict resolution or promotion of hemispheric goals like democratization and support of human rights. Such actions do offer hope for advancement of security goals shared by the nations of the Western hemisphere, however. Collective actions which will permit the OAS to accept a broader and more meaningful role on hemispheric security issues, as well as national actions taken by American governments to realign their militaries to effectively address post-Cold War security threats, can help translate the rhetorical security goals of the Inter-American community into concrete reality.

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Normative Analysis of Collective Security Prospects

Movement of the OAS and its member nations toward a mutual vision of shared security goals, promoted through a hemispheric collective security organization and realignment of nations' military forces, will not be an inevitable outcome of history. These changes will come about only if regional policymakers choose to promote them. A final question of importance to ask, therefore, is whether or not the citizens and leaders of the Western hemisphere should want to move toward this outlined vision of future collective security action.

This question is important to address because of several legitimate concerns raised by the prospect of increased collective security efforts in the hemisphere. The first is a fear of increased military involvement and influence in politics, and the effect which this could have on the fragile democracies of Latin America. Historically, civilian rulers in Latin America have feared that strengthening the image and role of the armed forces through non-traditional programs like disaster relief and civic action could eventually threaten civilian rule. If military organizations are realigned to more effectively confront transnational threats to security and their leaders are involved in cooperative security programs with other nations in the Americas, can these evolving military roles help the cause of human rights and strengthen civilian democratic rule in the hemisphere? Or, will these changes have a counterproductive effect? Do these attempts at post-Cold War collective security risk overexpanding the definition of national security merely to legitimize the continued existence and influence of the military with new roles and missions? Each of these questions deserves more attention beyond that provided by this paper, and are crucial to appreciate in an analysis of hemispheric prospects for collective security.

These concerns should be seriously considered and continually kept in mind as policymakers struggle to make difficult decisions affecting military organizations throughout the hemisphere. An increase in the influence and power of the armed forces throughout the Americas is not the goal of these proposals. Military budgets in the Western hemisphere in the post-Cold War era should not expand; rather they should be reduced to allow government investment and expenditure in other areas promoting economic and social progress. Limitation of military counternarcotics roles is particularly important to insure this budgetary goal is realized. Risks posed by military realignment and collective security engagement must be recognized, but on balance can be mitigated and outweighed by the benefits of these post-Cold War adaptations.

Demilitarization of the entire hemisphere is a wishful hope of idealists that will never materialize. Costa Rica's case is extremely unique, and might even be subject to future change as conditions in Central America continue to evolve. While the Costa Rican demilitarization example might be followed by similarly small countries, the larger and more powerful nations of the hemisphere will never be able to completely disband their military forces. Recognizing this reality, movement toward a vision of hemispheric collective security with realigned missions for regional armed forces will utilize military organizations in a constructive way to advance common goals.

Because of the vital role the military must play in a democracy, remaining subordinate to civilian rule, an isolated and disgruntled military can pose serious risks for democratization. As border conflicts seen to historically legitimize nations' armed forces continue to be resolved, there is an important need to "fill the gap" in military roles and missions previously filled by these territorial disputes. Finding constructive roles for American militaries to play in the 1990s and beyond, and enabling military leaders to cooperate with civilian policymakers in the search for solutions to national security threats, can bring numerous benefits. Regime stability can be enhanced by transcending the divorce that has historically characterized Latin American civil-military relations. Increased dialog between the two groups can facilitate ongoing efforts to resolve border conflicts and redefine military roles and missions. Changing the confrontational nature of Latin American civil-military relations into a more cooperative partnership can increase the dialog between these groups which is essential for meaningful and lasting democratization in the hemisphere. Employment of regional armed forces in programs that directly benefit society can enhance political stability, as well as promote economic and social progress in the 1990s and beyond.

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Although optimistic proclamations about the dawn of a new world order have been muffled by the outbreaks of ethnic violence following the collapse of the Soviet Union, there is still room for optimism in international affairs. The end of the Cold War has led to dramatic change in U.S. strategic priorities and the environment of Western hemispheric relations. The Americas and the rest of the globe are in a transition phase where institutions and policies are struggling to adapt to changed international realities. As remaining obstacles to a common security threat perception in the Western hemisphere are resolved, nations of the Americas can begin taking concrete steps on collective and national levels to promote a shared vision of hemispheric security goals.

The prospect of a widening gap between the rich and poor in the Americas portends dangerous social upheaval and instability for many nations, however. As Max Manwaring has concluded, the primary foundational strategic reality of the Grey Area Phenomena is an unwillingness or inability to deal with the root causes of its instability (20). For this reason, a security strategy for the Western hemisphere must be fundamentally economic in nature. A redefinition of military roles and missions and reinvigoration of hemispheric security organizations should not lead to increasing defense budgets and further arms proliferation within the Americas. Rather, as hemispheric militaries downsize, funds previously used for military expenditures should become available for economic and social development programs. In this way, programs can be strengthened which aim to solve the basic economic and social inequalities that often lead to security problems in the first place.

If one agrees with the assessment of Samuel P. Huntington, nations of the Americas are fortunate in the inherent compatability of their civilizations and their future potential to integrate. By developing programs and institutions which address mutual security concerns and promote shared objectives, nations of the Western hemisphere can capitalize on the cooperative possibilities opened up by the end of the Cold War and together forge a brighter American future.

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Mexican Security | Drug Policy | US-Latin American Policy | Collective Security

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