The Politics of Security in the Western Hemisphere


From Parameters, Winter 1996-97, pp. 13-25.

Important aspects of regional dynamics now facilitate military support for democracy and peaceful conflict resolution in the Western Hemisphere. But success will still require efforts from both civilian and military leaders. In this article I will offer and discuss ten observations that describe the current status of inter-American security relationships and that shape what might lie ahead.

1. Conditions in the Western Hemisphere have greatly improved over the past generation.

Change toward a more harmonious regional order is broadly evident. With Canada, Mexico, and the United States in NAFTA, with the anglophone Caribbean as stoutly democratic as ever, and with the end of dictatorships in South America complementing the end of internationalized conflicts in Central America, the 1994 Miami Summit credibly set forth the integration of the entire Western Hemisphere as a common goal. In sharp contrast to military rivalries in other parts of the world, Argentina and Brazil have ended their nuclear competition and accepted international safeguards. With Chile, they have banned chemical and bacteriological weapons. On the economic front, Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela have followed Chile in dismantling centralized economies; giant federal Brazil is adapting well to new democratic and productive forces.

Growth rates in several Latin American countries have for some years been higher than those in the United States and Canada. If the trend continues, some of today's glaring gaps in the quality of life between North and South America could slowly narrow over the next generation.

But the most impressive trend is political convergence. The historic pendulum which for a century led democratic springs to be followed by grim winters of dictatorship appears to have been stopped. Since the early 1980s, democratic political systems have withstood changes in leadership, periods of severe austerity, and major adjustment pains. Democracy and economic modernization are proving compatible, and are contributing to a new awareness of the values of freedom. Dictators have proven neither necessary nor welcome.

There is no guarantee that the new opportunities for regional cooperation will be fully developed. Reactions against the reformist optimism that opened the decade of the 1990s are real. But the potential for a new era of hemispheric prosperity and good neighborhood is also real.

2. The end of the Cold War has not meant the end of security problems.

Extracontinental threats have lost significance, but the travails of Haiti and looming instability in Cuba make clear that homegrown problems remain. More generally, the miseries of poverty and misgovernment, terrorism, drug trafficking, and mass migration can overwhelm the most settled boundaries, the most entrenched relationships, and the most precise legal guarantees.

Southward flows of automatic weapons through Miami have replaced Cuban-trained guerrillas as threats to local authorities. Criminal and terrorist groups hostile to organized society now possess levels of technology and firepower that contrast starkly to the historically unarmed governments of the Commonwealth Caribbean and even to the military capabilities of some Latin American governments. From Chiapas down the Central American isthmus and along the continent's Andean spine, explosive mixes of race, poverty, political violence, and institutional failure cause more casualties than the headline-grabbing calamities of earthquakes and hurricanes.

Democratic traditions by and large enabled the Commonwealth Caribbean to escape totalitarian temptations even during the 1960s and '70s. Taken as a whole, in fact, Latin America has stronger democratic traditions and more developed private entrepreneurial sectors than Russia and most of the rest of the former socialist bloc. But articulated interests and change do not necessarily guarantee social stability. Exacerbated by the dislocations of economic progress and made even more cruel by modern communications, old injustices and previously ignored social problems can challenge the responsiveness of national elites and international cooperation. And unattained development and missed opportunities can expose and magnify the fault lines of otherwise forgotten international resentments or disputes with neighbors.

The Western Hemisphere cannot, moreover, be isolated from the broader troubles of the global community. The end of the Cold War presents challenges to global order on the scale of the end of World Wars I and II. After successfully reversing Iraqi aggression, the world community's response to the far more complicated geopolitical repercussions of the disintegration of the Soviet empire still remains unclear: will we overcome centrifugal nationalisms, as we by and large managed to do after World War II, or will we indulge them, as we did after World War I? And will we find workable responses to deforestation, population overflow, and global warming?

We must be honest. Not only are these issues difficult in themselves, but we are having difficulty even discussing them because we lack common reference points. To quote the American Assembly: "During the Cold War . . . we had an enemy and our policy was to contain that enemy. That enemy has collapsed, and we have lost the unifying framework on which US foreign policy was based. Now there is only a vacuum."[1] Politics, like nature, abhors vacuums, so this is in fact a vacuum in name only--but it is filled with far more particularisms and localisms than the grand strategists have been accustomed to accommodating. That may be part of the problem.

3. Regionalism can serve as a building block for world order.

For all the shrinkage, the planet is big and complicated. The United Nations can't do it all. The United States can't do it all, either. And most countries have their hands full at home.

A workable compromise between the abstraction of globalism and the weakness of unilateralism already exists. It is called "neighborhood." Neighborhood has many attributes--proximity first among them, but often extending to language, culture, shared problems, history. That neighbors can work out some problems best is being demonstrated daily in every region of the world, from NAFTA to the European Union, from MERCOSUR[2] to ASEAN[3] and the Organization of African Unity.

An emphasis on neighborhood does not preclude cooperation with those outside the region. Latin America's Rio Group and the European Union are strengthening ties. Spain has been a leading promoter of Ibero-American summitry. European investment, cultural influence, and tourism are far more important to the Caribbean and South America than is commonly appreciated in the United States. Moreover, cooperation among regions, like cooperation among neighbors, is becoming critical to dealing with problems like terrorism, drug trafficking, and money laundering.

Yet an acceptance of regionalism comes only grudgingly. Globalists see regionalism as second best--or worse, as indicative of failure; nationalists see regionalism as just another threat to national identity; liberal economists fear it as a protectionist "circling of the wagons." In this jumble of ideas, however, it is important to realize that in today's uncertain conditions, regionalism can be a building block to work out the principles and relationships needed for broader global cooperation.

In the history of the United States, Western Hemisphere regionalism has an implication of "coming home." From the Monroe Doctrine to Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Good Neighbor policy, the United States saw itself solidly anchored in the Americas. But World War II ended the "America First" debate, and the United States has had worldwide commitments and a global outlook ever since.

This global outlook was reinforced during the Cold War. Now, with the dissolution of the former Soviet bloc, the United States has become the world's only genuinely global power--the United States is the only country in the world that sees itself as having a role in every region, in Europe and the Middle East, in Asia and Africa as well as the Western Hemisphere. From this perspective, NAFTA may turn out to be a first step toward a re-anchoring of the United States in its own geohistoric region. Certainly it has not been since Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the policy of the Good Neighbor that the United States has moved so explicitly to strengthen its moorings in its own immediate neighborhood.

NAFTA cannot, however, be a disguise for a "Fortress Americas" policy. Singapore may be as ready to join as Chile. Canada and the ABC countries (Argentina, Brazil, and Chile) are mainstays of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and UN peacekeeping. A successful "Beyond NAFTA" will be neither exclusionary nor isolationist; it must be GATT-compatible in economics, democratic in politics, and universalist in spirit.

4. The deepening of democracy has given new life to regional cooperation and to the Organization of American States.

With the entry of Canada in 1990 and Belize and Guyana in 1991, the Organization of American States (OAS) has become for the Western Hemisphere what the United Nations is for the world: a body whose membership includes its entire potential universe. (The obvious absentee, Cuba, is still formally a member of the OAS; most countries look forward to the day when a democratic Cuba will be able to reoccupy the seat from which its government was suspended in 1962.)

More important (and unlike the UN Charter, which does not contain the word "democracy"), the OAS Charter commits all members to representative democracy. In the 1930s, FDR's acceptance of the principle of nonintervention gave meaning to the sovereign equality of states, thus helping to lay the cornerstone of the modern inter-American system. For years, however, the OAS wallowed in internal contradictions, the cheap rhetoric of the representatives of dictators, and Cold War distortions that sapped its potential and earned public disdain.

Conditions changed as the 1990s began. In 1991, the annual OAS General Assembly was hosted in Santiago by a Chilean government eager to call attention to its transition from military to civilian rule. In 1973, the coup led by General Pinochet against Chile's elected government had not even been commented upon at the OAS, many of whose members were then themselves under military rule. In 1991, without exception, all 34 delegations participating in the Santiago General Assembly represented governments with a genuine claim to democratic legitimacy. The result was revolutionary: the unanimous adoption of Resolution 1080, calling for automatic OAS consideration of any interruption of democratic processes in any member country. Over the next two years, this procedure was applied three times: to Haiti to withhold recognition of the government issuing from a military coup, and to Peru and Guatemala to oppose unconstitutional seizures of power by civilian presidents.

Since 1990, the OAS has been at the core of efforts to define the legal grounds for international cooperation in support of democracy. OAS missions have disarmed insurgent movements in Nicaragua and Suriname while helping to protect their human rights. Between 1990 and 1994, OAS observers supported elections in Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, El Salvador, Haiti, Venezuela, and Guatemala. The implementation of the 1994 Miami Summit will depend to an important extent on the success of the OAS as both coordinator and sounding board.

5. Respect for sovereignty is still the starting point for cooperation.

Our times are marked by the emergence of truly global, transnational forces, some of them with appalling destructive power. To the secular evils of dictatorship and protectionism are now added pollution, mass distribution of drugs with antisocial effects, and population increases that existing arrangements are often unable to serve effectively. Electronic communication has created a new and transcendent universe.

Yet we still live in a world of nations. The search for solutions must still respect what is invisible from space and increasingly ignored on earth: the international boundary marker that distinguishes one sovereignty from another. Although very much under challenge--some talk of impending anarchy, of entire areas beyond the reach of any modern state--the nation-state remains the basic unit of world organization. Even the UN is made up of nation-states. And nation-states need to be organized and energized before they can cooperate, even to face urgent global problems.

From the standpoint of international cooperation, in fact, democracy among nations may be as important as democracy within nations. In the Western Hemisphere, the veto-free structure of the OAS and its accompanying search for consensus bring an important dose of democracy to those relationships expressed through the OAS.

In the Western Hemisphere, a regional approach has two important advantages:

The first of these advantages is typical of any multilateral setting anywhere, and is of particular utility to countries that might feel a need to supplement normal communication channels. The second has special significance in this hemisphere, where bilateral cooperation is inhibited as well as facilitated by the disproportionate power of the United States.

The gradual negotiation of common positions in a regional setting is thus one way to obtain needed action on transnational issues without sacrificing the rights of sovereignty.

6. The military is key to democracy as well as to security.

Democratization in Latin America during the 1970s and 1980s was associated with transitions from military to civilian rule. Because generals had been the backbone of the displaced authoritarian regimes, military leaders and institutions inevitably became identified as opponents of democracy, even among civilian leaders and movements which owed their success to timely support from men in uniform.

In the 1990s, these tensions will need to be overcome and new understandings developed if the region is to consolidate functioning democratic governments in the midst of social discontent, economic reform, and international uncertainty. To discuss institution-building or the administration of justice requires at some point discussing the boundaries between civilian and military authority. Are military personnel accused of human rights abuses to be tried in military or civilian courts? Who is to decide counternarcotics policy or levels of expenditure on arms? Do military personnel on active duty have the right to vote?

Answers to these and many similar questions are often very controversial. And it is not widely understood how greatly they are complicated by lack of an agreed model of authority. Liberal traditions emphasize the subordination of military to civilian authority in all matters, but grant military personnel all the political rights characteristic of citizenship. Corporatist traditions emphasize military autonomy in spheres of military competence--hence limiting if not altogether denying civilian authority in military affairs, and often denying political rights to military personnel.

In Latin American history well into this century, constitutions regularly assigned to the military a corporatist right, even duty, to preside in a nonpartisan, professional manner over the destiny of the nation by granting military commanders the constitutional obligation to determine when politicians had violated the constitution. Such formulations, virtually incomprehensible to persons educated in a liberal tradition, have now all but disappeared from the constitutions written over the past generation in Latin America.

But corporatist attitudes remain powerful, nowhere more so than among military officers, whose function it is to defend the nation-state against its enemies, and who are likely to see freedom as meaningless without social order. All too often, officers have been caught in a cultural polarity with (and against) advocates of individual human rights.

Civil-military and liberal-corporatist differences can be reconciled, with time and good will, by the habits created by the rule of law. But the challenge ahead is mutual:

And both civilian and military leaders must deal with the single most pernicious and destabilizing element in hemispheric politics today: impunity. Abuse of power and privilege, corruption, human rights violations--these evils know neither nationality nor civil condition nor uniform. Impunity from punishment, whether the accused is civilian or military, is profoundly destabilizing to state authority. The path to mutual respect and stability can be built only by accepting that all are equal under the law--and obeying it.

7. Regional military relationships are hamstrung by the past.

In Europe, NATO's adaptation to new conditions is requiring such difficult decisions of its member states that success is not assured. In the Western Hemisphere, democratization has strengthened regional political cooperation but not military relationships. Moreover, the end of the Cold War has undermined the extrahemispheric threat rationale on which regional military cooperation has been based for more than half a century, first against the Axis, then against the Soviet bloc.

The Falklands-Malvinas War in 1982 highlighted fundamental differences in perceptions and military alliances. In Latin America (as distinct from Canada and the Caribbean), its association with the United Kingdom made the United States almost as much a loser as Argentina, some of whose leaders had acted believing the United States would understand their cause. The Rio Treaty, already under ideological attack, appeared scrapped by US loyalty to NATO.

In Latin America as a whole, the loss of Cold War rationales turned the clock back to historic national rivalries, arms transfers, long-standing boundary disputes, and to the mutual distaste derived from writing one's own history as an anti-history of neighbors. In Central and South America, these external problems were compounded by uncertainties over domestic civil-military relationships, mechanisms of command and control, or the internal distribution of police and intelligence functions.

The fluidity that came with the end of the Cold War also brought to the fore relationships that had been overshadowed by bipolarism. Taiwan trains senior commanders of the newly unified Peruvian national police and exchanges cadets with Honduras. As the mother country of 18 American republics, Spain has long been an advocate for Latin America in Europe. Occasionally, Spain's influence has affected politics, as in 1958, when the Alternation Plan that restored democracy to Colombia was worked out in the Spanish seaport of Sitges. More recently, Spain's military ties to the Western Hemisphere have benefited from Spain's entry into NATO and participation in UN peacekeeping operations. Spanish and Portuguese officers have conducted a dialogue with their counterparts from Ibero-America. Cuba, which was still a Spanish colonial outpost at the dawn of the 20th century, is now sending military officers to study in Spanish army schools--a sure sign that Spain claims a role in any post-Castro Cuban scenario.

These extrahemispheric ties reflect, in part, the existence of a special panoply of problems associated with the United States. The disproportion of power between the United States and its neighbors, turned into fear by the historic use of that power to intervene militarily, has blocked a clear subordination of the regional military instrument (the Inter-American Defense Board, or IADB) to the political body (the OAS).

The reasoning is this: if the OAS is authorized a military arm, the United States (with its disproportionate power and the votes it will control) will be in a position to justify military intervention in Latin America or the Caribbean in the name of international law. One extreme formulation of this fear is that, with democracy and human rights as excuses, the United States seeks to turn the OAS and the IADB into instruments to put Latin American armed forces under US command as enforcers of US intervention.

Additional false hypotheses about US policy circulating in nationalist circles in Latin America are these:

There are two major problems with these conspiratorial misrepresentations of US policy. The first is that these are genuine "Big Lies," incorporating just enough from authentic US concerns to give them a degree of alluring plausibility they do not deserve. The second is that such misunderstandings have in the recent past prevented effective regional cooperation that could have forestalled the use of force.

In Panama in 1989 the OAS took on Noriega without success for several months before events precipitated armed action by the United States. In Haiti in 1991-92 the OAS and the IADB had an opportunity to provide military training under conditions that might have contributed to a political solution. But anti-military and anti-interventionist attitudes prevented OAS action. By the time the United States began a new effort a year later, this time with the United Nations, Haitian paramilitary goon squads had been reinforced and conditions had polarized and deteriorated even further. An opportunity to reverse the coup and reduce the suffering of the Haitian people had been lost.

With the Rio Treaty in disuse and no provision in the OAS Charter for the use of force, the region's lack of cooperative rules for the use of force will leave armed peacekeeping activities either to the United Nations or to unilateral action by the United States. Neither is a satisfactory embodiment of collective regional will.

8. Mission expansion is not the answer.

The end of the Cold War unleashed a worldwide search for new military missions and rationales--even as significant "downsizing" is taking place. One of the most important is peacekeeping, a mission spurred on by the Gulf War reminder that danger still abounds despite hopes for a "new world order."

Though Canada has a long history of peacekeeping participation and leadership, out-of-area activities by Latin American forces have been relatively infrequent. Brazilian and Mexican units participated in World War II; Colombians served in Korea and twice in the Sinai. Such extrahemispheric contributions are now multiplying as South American countries participate in UN peacekeeping operations--Argentina in the Persian Gulf, Croatia, Cyprus, and Mozambique; Brazil in Angola, the former Yugoslavia, on the Rwanda-Uganda border, and Mozambique; Chile in Kuwait, Cambodia, and Kashmir; and Uruguay in the Sinai, Cambodia, the Persian Gulf, and Mozambique.

Brazilian military advisory missions have worked well under the UN aegis in Angola and Mozambique, which like Brazil were once part of the Portuguese empire. With Cold War-era agendas and military sponsors cast aside, Brazilian advisory contributions helped restore peace and support national development.

Within the hemisphere, Brazil contributed officers to the OAS in Suriname and to the UN in El Salvador; Venezuelan troops served with the UN in Nicaragua; and an OAS-authorized demining effort in Nicaragua planned by the IADB was manned by officers from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay. Argentina, Canada, the CARICOM[4] states, Guatemala, Honduras, and Suriname participated in Haiti in an effort which drew more political than military support from the hemisphere.

These constructive efforts should not be mistaken for a new equilibrium. International organizations are by definition mendicants, and it is hard to think of a faster way to financially bankrupt them than to ask them to undertake military operations. More important, perhaps, participation in peacekeeping is not going to replace the need for a careful redefinition of national military missions.

We should not, moreover, have needed Somalia to remind us that new military missions should be approached with skepticism. History is full of demonstrations that new missions and doctrines can lead to trouble. Adoption of new missions without careful preparation can create political instability and bring discredit to the military institutions themselves.

Uncertainty over military roles has combined with a variety of civilian-inspired reform efforts to spawn a veritable proliferation of course topics at military schools. The US Army School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia, has moved beyond its traditional Spanish-language nuts-and-bolts courses to provide materials on civil-military relations in a democracy, peacekeeping operations, border monitoring, resource management, and even linkage through course credits to a master's degree program in international relations at Troy State University. Students at the School of the Americas come from all branches of the armed services and the police and have included some career government civilians. After a lapse of 16 years caused by instability and ideological conflict, Nicaraguans are back in attendance. Similar ferment is evident at the inter-American Defense College and in talk of a new Inter-American defense studies institute in Washington.

As the 1990s conclude, the redefinition of military roles will require careful and unprecedented consultation between civilian and military authorities. Most issues are far harder than peacekeeping, which, though expensive, has obvious benefits for military modernization and international order as well as providing an outlet for domestic political temptations.

Some difficulties are economic in form, but political in substance. What materiel acquisitions are necessary in an environment of reduced tensions? What will be the budgetary balance between military spending and social spending? In an era of government downsizing, no sector is going to receive all it feels it needs or deserves.

Other questions are quintessentially political. How much downsizing is enough? How can civilian demands for transparency be reconciled with needs for security? Still others will be the very stuff of politics. What happens in rural areas where military units are virtually the sole representatives of public authority? What happens when criminal gangs have better firepower, mobility, and communications than the police? The traditional authoritarian answer is to order the military into action. The democratic answer is slower but almost certainly more stable in the long run: bring together both military and civilian authorities to decide what is to be done.

Finally, it should be noted that voices are still occasionally heard calling for military intervention against domestic civilian corruption, inefficiency, or crime. Such calls are typically softened with populist appeals and promises. The hard truth is that military interruption of the prevailing legal order would provide little hope for the disadvantaged. It would be hard to imagine a quicker end to the promise NAFTA holds for the hemisphere than a swing of the pendulum back to the false solutions of authoritarianism embodied in even the most apparently "justified" military coup.

9. Unsettled borders are dangerous.

In December 1994, while the heads of government of the Americas at the Miami Summit were agreeing to promote economic integration, Peruvian and Ecuadorean patrols were probing each other's positions in a remote area where their common border is in dispute. In January, sustained combat broke out. Dozens were killed, hundreds wounded, and escalation to cities was rumored in the press. The fighting sparked fears of a regional arms race. Jittery investors had fresh nightmares about "emerging market" instability.

Acting as guarantors of the 1942 Rio Protocol, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and the United States immediately brought Peru and Ecuador into direct talks. On 17 February 1995 in Brasilia, the two combatants agreed to cease hostilities and to seek a peaceful solution to their border problems.

Over the next several months, military observers from the four guarantors organized the withdrawal of more than 5000 troops from the conflict zone and observed the demobilization of another 140,000 troops on both sides. Led by a Brazilian general and supported by a tailored unit from US Southern Command, the Military Observer Mission, Ecuador-Peru (MOMEP) showed a high degree of professionalism in separating the combatants in very difficult terrain, then recommending how to demilitarize the area where the fighting had taken place.

As of early 1996, Ecuador and Peru were preparing for negotiations. Tensions persisted, but for the first time, both sides listed points to be discussed in the search for a lasting solution to a dispute whose origins date from the 19th century. In a hemisphere with a dozen or more questioned borders, potential disaster was being averted by active preventive diplomacy with military support.

10. Careful inter-American cooperation can advance both security and democracy.

The Peru-Ecuador clash brought into focus several issues that have broader implications for the future of hemispheric security relations. Perhaps the most important have to do with military missions and how to organize cooperation.

First, traditional concerns, among them the defense of national frontiers, remain legitimate military missions. Resolving border disputes is critical to stability, economic progress, and modernization. But until border conflicts become matters of the past, governments will have to factor territorial concerns into their defense planning.

Military modernization and arms transfers will thus remain on the hemispheric agenda for the foreseeable future. Much of the Cold War security system was built on US excess stocks, first from World War II and then from Korea. These shortcuts have been unavailable for some time. Moreover, even after bargain hunting, the technology and cost of what is now produced in the developed world are close to prohibitive. Worse, even minimal acquisitions can easily be perceived as threatening or even destabilizing by other countries. In late 1995, Ecuador's purchase of four KFIR fighters was enough to raise fears that it might set off a South America-wide arms race. Yet the KFIRs in question were one-for-one replacements that introduced no new technology.

A logical response would be an arms transfer regime responsive to the twin imperatives of defense and restraint, and respected both regionally and internationally. The regime should include provisions for prior consultation and confidence-building measures both among and within countries, and be flexible enough to ensure arms supplies needed for national defense yet restrained enough to preclude destabilizing and wasteful transfers. For example, restraint on one system could be accepted in return for assured supply of another (or even of the same system, but in limited quantities). No transfers would be dismissed a priori, but none would be consummated without an agreement involving both military and civilian leaders.

Some of the conditions for a supply and restraint regime are gradually coming into being. Nuclear, chemical, bacteriological, and other weapons of mass destruction have been banned. Constitutional democratic governments are dominant. But levels of civil-military communication required to define a regime with confidence and verification are still weak.

Second, the response to the Ecuador-Peru clash demonstrated that, done right, multilateral cooperation on sensitive security issues is possible. MOMEP support of Peru and Ecuador involved six countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and the United States, plus Ecuador and Peru, the two former combatants, who together by early 1996 provided a majority of the observers.

Close coordination between civilian and military officials within each of the guarantor governments, among the guarantors, and between the guarantors and the parties to the conflict was critical to MOMEP success. Coordination required patience, discretion, respect for sovereignty, and clear procedures. The Rio Protocol, the Declaration of Peace of Itamaraty, and the MOMEP Terms of Reference covered every step and enabled MOMEP to maintain independent communications and transport. Despite the terrain, MOMEP suffered not one accident or casualty in a year of operations.

Importantly, another secret of success was that MOMEP focused on military concerns it could address professionally; MOMEP was explicitly excluded from political matters. For example, MOMEP had the responsibility of separating the forces in conflict and defining a demilitarized area; resolving the underlying conflict was the responsibility of diplomats. MOMEP's actions were explicitly identified as without bearing on where the border was or should be located.

Finally, experience demonstrates that despite political progress and convergence, inter-American cooperation on security matters still needs to be approached with caution. Security and sovereignty are in many ways but different sides of the coin of nationhood. Despite common rhetoric, working principles emphasize limits and separate spheres of action and interest.

The 1995 Defense Ministerial of the Americas in Williamsburg brought together Ministers of Defense, regardless of whether they were civilian or military. The meeting was an important step in using the hemisphere's political convergence to foster not only better inter-American communication but also civil-military dialogue within a constitutional context. In the future, such conferences could develop common guidelines for training exercises and arms transfers (including dependable supplies as well as controls). In the immediate future, however, my guess is that the most productive path to better civil-military communication will be through informal dialogue, education, and study rather than through any particular course of organized action.

Civilian and military leaders still tend to inhabit separate and distinct universes. There is no general agreement on rules and roles. More can and should be done through education focused on training civilians in security matters, military officers in human rights, and both civilians and military in public administration and regional comity. In a similar vein, the OAS has emphasized confidence-building measures.

The United States should when possible avoid acting alone in security matters in the hemisphere. Working with others will sometimes fall short. But careful consultations will inevitably uncover friends and allies. And if we can be counted on to play our part to develop acceptable solutions with others rather than attempting to impose our views unilaterally by the sheer weight of our power, we will help to consolidate both security and democracy in this hemisphere, to the enormous benefit of all the peoples of the Americas.


1. Report of American Assembly, July 1993.

2. MERCOSUR is the Mercado Comun del Cono Sur, or Southern Cone Common Market, an organization for regional economic cooperation established 26 March 1991. Its members are Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay.

3. ASEAN is the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Its members are Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. Papua New Guinea is an observer.

4. CARICOM is the Caribbean Community and Common Market; it comprises 13 member states, two associate members, and ten observers.

Ambassador Luigi R. Einaudi is a senior policy advisor to the Secretary of State and served as US permanent representative to the Organization of American States from 1989 to 1993. Since January 1995, he has also been the US Special Envoy in negotiations to settle the Peru-Ecuador border conflict. An abbreviated version of the present article appeared in the Spring 1996 issue of JFQ.

Reviewed 6 November 1996. Please send comments or corrections to