Security in Latin America : the development of a zone of peace in the Southern Cone
This thesis studies the development of bilateral relations in two pairs of states (dyads); Argentina-Brazil and Argentina-Chile. It takes on a moderate constructivist approach that incorporates into the analysis of international relations the role of identities, ideas and perceptions as well as of material forces, and understands that the former are affected and change during interaction. It also resorts to securitization theory to explain how issues come or cease to be considered security matters through social construction. Using this framework, the thesis analyses how states within the dyads have gradually stopped viewing each other as threats to their security. For most of their history, they have defined their relationships in terms of rivalry, and have perceived one another accordingly. In turn, this has resulted in a situation of negative regional peace in the Southern Cone of Latin America. Since the late 1970s, however, mutual images have shifted, and the Southern Cone has evolved, alongside the dyads, toward a situation of positive peace. The thesis argues that these bilateral rapprochement processes were set out by changes in domestic and international material situations, encouraging key actors in each state to reassess their interests and needs. These reassessed material considerations, coupled with particular ideologies and foreign policy traditions, reshaped the actors' awareness of the scope of possible bilateral foreign policy actions. Thus, new political options came to be viewed as plausible, old ones were ruled out, or existing political trends were reinforced. Despite differences between the dyads, in time these processes led to the desecuritization of both bilateral relationships. Once the processes of desecuritization and rapprochement were set in motion in each dyad, they promoted changes in the perceptions of themselves, the other, and the relationship; a fact that has redounded to growth of mutual trust and the stabilisation of regional peace.