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date: 17 October 2019

Summary and Keywords

Puzzles for the scholar of international relations abound in Latin America, whether one focuses on unexpected outcomes or examines purported causal variables that, when properly specified, do not lead where theory expects. In fact, the Latin American experience is a great case to illustrate two problems in the empirical application of international relations theories: theoretical formulations tend to be poorly developed and articulated, and the empirical evaluations of those theories are not rigorously designed.

The empirical record of Latin American interstate violence is more present and varied than generally accepted by scholars and policy makers. The relationship between conflict and the region’s use of international fora to peacefully resolve some conflicts obscures this record. Puzzles also arise when explaining why the region has the empirical record it does since the causal logic underlying the variables is generally misspecified in studies of Latin American security relations. These analytic errors render most explanations offered in the literature drawing on Latin American cases incorrect. Indeed, the failed explanations themselves offer new puzzles for scholars of international relations. Scholars of international relations can, therefore, benefit from studying the actual empirical history of Latin American interstate relations with the correctly specified causal variables offered by the various theories of international relations.

Keywords: Latin America, interstate conflict, zone of peace, empirical international relations theory, fora

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