The study of East Asian foreign policies has progressed in sync with mainstream international relations (IR) theories: (1) from perhaps an inadvertent or unconscious coincidence with realism during the Cold War to consciously using different theoretical tools to study the various aspects of East Asian foreign policies; and (2) from the dominance of realism to a diversity of theories in studying East Asian foreign policies. Nonetheless, the old issues from the Cold War have not been resolved; the Korean Peninsula and the Taiwan Strait remain two flashpoints in the region, with new twists that can derail regional stability and prosperity. New issues also have emerged and made East Asia most volatile. One issue is concerned with restructuring the balance of power in East Asia, particularly the dynamics among the major players, i.e. Japan, China, and the United States. Regionalism is another new topic in the study of East Asian foreign policies. A review of the current state of the field suggests that two complementary issues be given priority in the future. First, the foreign policy interests and strategies of individual small states vis-à-vis great powers in the region, particularly those in Southeast Asia and the Korean peninsula. Second, what could really elevate the study of East Asian foreign policies in the general field of IR and foreign policy analysis is to continue exploring innovative analytical frameworks that can expand the boundaries of existing metatheories and paradigms.
Enyu Zhang and Qingmin Zhang
Latin American foreign policy has drawn the attention of scholars since the 1960s. Foreign policy–related literature began to surge in the 1980s and 1990s, with a focus on both economic and political development. As development in the region lagged behind that of its northern neighbors, Latin American had to rely on foreign aid, largely from the United States. In addition to foreign aid, two of the most prevalent topics discussed in the literature are trade/economic liberalization and regional economic integration (for example, Mercosur and NAFTA). During and after the Cold War, Latin America played a strategic foreign policy role as it became the object of a rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union hoping to expand their power and/or contain that of the other. This role was also explored in a considerably larger body of research, along with the decision of Latin American nations to diversify their foreign relations in the post–Cold War era. Furthermore, scholars have analyzed different regions/countries that have become new and/or expanded targets of Latin American foreign policy, including the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Despite the substantial amount of scholarship that has accumulated over the years, a unified theory of Latin American foreign policy remains elusive. Future research should therefore focus on the development of a theory that incorporates the multiple explanatory variables that influence foreign policy formulation and takes into account their relative importance and the effects on each other.
Jason E. Strakes, Mikhail A. Molchanov, and David J. Galbreath
To gain a comprehensive understanding of the relationships of elite/citizen preferences and strategies—and its consequent impact on the perceived role of their countries in the greater international system—it is necessary to put an emphasis on interactions within and across contrasting areas of the formerly communist world. Until recently, the systematic investigation of foreign policy-making processes has been a relatively neglected dimension within the general domain of post-communist studies. During the mid-to-late 1990s, various scholars addressed ideological redefinition in post-communist states. Other scholars have addressed the foreign policy trajectory of the newly independent states from the perspective of governance, institutional structure, and state capacity. Among the analytic tools that have been adopted to evaluate the international activities of post-communist states in recent years is the burgeoning concept of “multi-vector” foreign policy. However, due to the vast cross-regional scope and complexity of the former Soviet region, it has become more analytically useful to identify this group of countries in terms of their location in separate and respective geographic subregions. Two regional overviews provide a synthesis of the four analytic foci: national identity, political transition, rationality, and regionalism. The first offers an assessment of the foreign policy decisions and strategies of the Baltic republics since 1990–1. The second evaluates the foreign relations between the Russian Federation and the five independent republics of Central Asia.
Jacqueline Anne Braveboy-Wagner
Despite the near-absence of studies of the Caribbean within the mainstream of international relations (IR) theory and foreign policy analysis (FPA), as well as a tendency to subsume this diverse and unique region within the larger Latin America, a focus on Caribbean international relations offers several interesting implications for the wider fields of both IR and FPA. Realist, liberalist, constructivist, and critical approaches all can be incorporated into the study of Caribbean foreign policy in unique ways, and the subfield of foreign policy analysis can also be enriched by focusing on the particular domestic sources of foreign policy in small, culturally diverse, developing countries such as the Caribbean states. Among the unique characteristics of foreign policy in these states is the important role played by external forces in both the economy and the polity, leading to constraints on decision-making autonomy. The external factor also explains why the idea of “inter-American relations” has long been viewed as providing the necessary backdrop for explaining Caribbean foreign policy. Related to this is the important role played by the main regional actors, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), as well as the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), which has thinned the boundary between state and region. As for the prioritization of military-security issues seen in the more powerful countries of the globe, these Caribbean states (apart from Cuba) have eschewed military adventures and traditionally defined their foreign policies in terms of the prioritization of economic development. Finally, to study Caribbean foreign policy means that the scholar must exercise creativity in borrowing from perspectives not normally included in traditional foreign policy studies. Sociology, anthropology, historiography, political economy, and public policy are complementary tools for understanding the Caribbean. Moreover, situating the study of foreign policy within general currents of thought on the role of small states and global south states is also recommended.