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date: 17 February 2018

Caribbean Foreign Policy

Summary and Keywords

In the 1960s and 1970s, a wave of new states gained independence that altered not only the structure of the international system but also the substance of international relations (IR). These states once again drew the attention of the world to the problems of decolonization, neocolonialism, state legitimacy, development, nonalignment, equality and social justice, and nonintervention. These provided the context for global south foreign policy making and behavior, adding a north–south dimension to the prevailing East–West conflict. In the case of the Caribbean, it has become an arena of competition for influence both among superpowers and regional middle powers. A review of the literature on Caribbean foreign policy reveals that the bulk of Caribbean IR analyses assume a political economic perspective, and only some of them have direct foreign policy implications. Despite the rich scholarly work, there remain several gaps in Caribbean foreign policy research: theoretical work has been subordinated over the years to descriptive and policy-prescriptive scholarship; Caribbean scholars’ preference for international political economy continues to detract from a theoretical focus on foreign policy analysis; and there is lack of attention to gender as compared to class, race, and ethnicity in foreign policy analysis. On the other hand, promising research that reflects the importance of constructivism as an approach is being conducted into the role of civil society and nonstate actors, as well as identity and ideas, in IR and foreign policy.

Keywords: international relations, foreign policy, Caribbean, constructivism, international political economy, foreign policy analysis, gender


The emergence to independence of a wave of new states in the 1960s and 1970s changed both the structure of the international system and the substance of international relations. As these states took their place alongside the older powers in the United Nations, they brought fresh or renewed global attention to the problems of decolonization, neocolonialism, state legitimacy, development, nonalignment, equality and social justice, and nonintervention. These provided the context for global south foreign policy making and behavior, adding a north–south dimension to the prevailing East–West conflict, especially because Latin American states which had gained their independence in the nineteenth century eventually joined with Afro-Asian states in seeking global reform.

Not surprisingly, the independence of Afro-Asian states also had a major effect on political science scholarship, adding new dimensions to the study of comparative politics in particular. Rather surprisingly, however, international relations scholarship remained anchored in great power conceptualizations embodied in predominantly realist and liberal theories. Although Marxist, neo-Marxist, and “globalist” theories were important to third world scholarship, they never gained ground in mainstream international relations. In the subfield of foreign policy, the emergence of a more diverse world did indeed impact the development of a comparative foreign policy (CFP), intended to generalize to all nations, but the behavioral approach had limited appeal to area studies scholars, whose strengths lay in in-depth regional research. Instead, scholars from the developing countries have tended to employ nonquantitative empirical research and case studies in order to test relevant assumptions of CFP, and, today, its successor, foreign policy analysis (FPA).

In this essay, an attempt is made to define what is similar (to the mainstream) and what is unique about the literature on Caribbean foreign policy. The aim is to examine the sources of Caribbean foreign policy rather than the foreign policy of the great powers toward this region, but because the latter to some extent frames the former (that is, is the source of systemic influences on foreign policy), some relevant “great power” contributions are also cited. In the spirit of the theoretical enterprise, the preference here is to cite works that deal with more than one country and, in particular, with the entire Caribbean region and its subregions. However, there are instances in which citation of single case studies is warranted: individual-country analysis can be useful both in the application of conceptual frameworks and in offering substantive information. Moreover, in the Caribbean, there are particularities that pertain to Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti that require separate citation.

It should be noted that the Caribbean is also integrated with Latin America in both formal and informal ways. Thus, many aspects of Latin American scholarship discussed elsewhere in this Compendium are also relevant to the Caribbean, in particular to the Hispanic Caribbean. Another arm of scholarship on foreign policy that is relevant to the Caribbean is the literature on small states, also elaborated elsewhere in the Compendium.

As a practical matter, although an attempt is made here to discuss as many works by local/regional scholars as possible, English-language works are prioritized for reasons of general accessibility. In addition, although major compilations of primary documents and papers, including collections of speeches by diplomats and foreign ministers, are undoubtedly useful for research, they are excluded here because the primary focus of this review is theoretical.

The review of research which follows highlights the fact that “mainstream” international relations and foreign policy perspectives have the potential to be enriched (and have indeed been enriched) by perspectives that offer a “view from below.” In the case of the Caribbean, geopolitical perspectives, analyses of decision making in personalist democracies, and political economic approaches that highlight the significance of foreign economic policies – all can be viewed as complementing the more common studies of the foreign policy behavior of the larger (northern) nations.

The Subsystem

It is important to clarify what is meant by the “Caribbean,” and in this respect the subsystem approach is pertinent. Subsystems may not always be seen as geographical conceptualizations (e.g. Russett 1967), but most scholars do use geographical proximity as well as internal and external recognition of the unit as identifiers of a subsystem (e.g. Brecher 1963). Despite many commonalities, the Caribbean subsystem is highly diverse: the region consists of both “old” and “young” states, Haiti having been the first country in the hemisphere to gain independence (1804) while St. Kitts-Nevis was the last in 1984. The independent states of the region include the Spanish-speaking island nations of Cuba and the Dominican Republic, creole-speaking Haiti, as well as the members of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) which includes not only the island nations but also continental Belize, Guyana, and Dutch-speaking Suriname.

Obviously, no one work in foreign policy or international relations can do justice to all the Caribbean nations, nor has a single methodology been employed by scholars to try to facilitate cross-national comparisons. Mixes of themes and case studies are the most common form of analysis (Ince 1979a; Millett and Will 1979; Ince et al. 1983; Ferris and Lincoln 1981, which deals with a selected group of both Caribbean and Latin American states; in similar vein, Hey and Mora 2003). Studies by local scholars have tended to focus on the core Caricom (Preiswerk 1969; Reid 1979; Ince et al. 1983; Braveboy-Wagner 1989; 2007), whereas studies by northern scholars have tended to use a Basin concept that includes circum-Caribbean countries (for example, Sutton 1977, who discusses Central America and the “older” Caribbean together; Erisman and Martz 1982, who include these plus Caricom). In terms of explanations, geopolitical studies tend to deal with the region as a whole, whereas political economic studies tend to focus on the smaller and more vulnerable island states. An interesting cultural definition, useful for certain purposes, is offered by Levine (1989:185), who sees the archipelago (West Indies, Guyana, Suriname, Belize, and settlements on the coast of Central America and northern South America) as a region based on the presence of African populations, on a common history of slavery and colonialism, and on the imposition from outside of plantation economies – in essence past culture.

It is worth noting that the theoretical aspects of subsystem analysis (which was particularly popular in the late 1960s) are hardly ever specifically cited in the literature. However, the works of Atkins (1999) and Sutton (1980) are exceptions that do refer to this literature. Sutton analyzed the Caribbean subsystem on the basis of sustained patterns of interaction between 1945 and 1959. More expansively, in his classic and comprehensive book on Latin American and the Caribbean international relations (1999; first edition 1989), Atkins used the concept of regional subsystem as an organizing device to guide his discussion of actors and interaction as well as structures and processes, while defining the subsystem (and further subsystems within the region) as “a set of geographically proximate and regularly interacting states that share to some degree a sense of regional identity and are so perceived by external actors” (Atkins 1999:25). Atkins sees Latin America as consisting of several subsystems: Mexico, the circum-Caribbean (within which lies the Commonwealth Caribbean subsystem), South America, and Brazil (1999:33–8).

Realism and Caribbean Foreign Policies

Although Waltz's (structural) neorealism is the most widely accepted version of realism today, classical realism with its focus on state capabilities and the national interest is more relevant to foreign policy analysis. In the Caribbean, realism has translated into three foci: power politics, national self-interest, and geopolitics.

Even as Caribbean analysts have critiqued both realism and liberalism as top–down theories that are unhelpful in explaining small-state behavior (see Watson 1993, for example), “great power” realism has been a much-used explanation of the geopolitical context in which a constrained Caribbean foreign policy has been developed. After all, the Caribbean has historically been a locus of great power rivalry: in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the Dutch, Spanish, French, and English all fought to possess these territories, for their strategic military value as well as for their economic value as sources of much-prized sugarcane. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the United States became the predominant power in the region: the articulation of its geopolitical interests along with its interventions to promote its political, economic, and ideological interests have formed a necessary backdrop to understanding the behavior of the independent Caribbean states.

Many works using a geopolitical theme take the form of studies in diplomatic history written in terms of the US perspective. Atkins (2001) gives a comprehensive survey of these (as well as other aspects of international relations), recommending, among others, the works of a former foreign service officer in the Caribbean Dana Munro (1934; 1964; 1974), which analyze and critique US interventions and diplomacy; Collin's Theodore Roosevelt's Caribbean (1990); and Jones's Caribbean Interests of the United States (1916), this last specifically using a realist frame of reference (Atkins 2001:76–7, 165). Among works dealing with geopolitical rivalries involving the European nations, Langley's book (1976) on the US–European rivalry in the Caribbean between 1776 and 1904 has been recommended by many. Writing from a specific anglophone Caribbean perspective, historian Baptiste (1988) has published a well-researched and detailed work of Caribbean–European relations and negotiations during World War II. Not only does he deal with global strategic and political considerations, highlighting the key role of natural resources, but he also discusses the decision making process that took place in the various states.

Not surprisingly, geographers have continued to emphasize the strategic implications of location and control of marine territory. Richardson (1992) focused on aspects of both European and US domination as well as a range of geographical and economic factors in discussing the ways in which Caribbean peoples have adapted and reacted to external influences. Morris (1994) has made a distinctive contribution on the region's maritime security by assessing the limitations of regional naval and coastguard capabilities. Cultural geographer Thomas Anderson’s book (1984) focused on such geopolitical issues as maritime boundaries, petroleum trade, nonstate actors, and the roles of Cuba and the United States.

Geopolitics and power politics have been central to the many works dealing with Caribbean security both during the Cold War, when the Caribbean became an arena of superpower competition, and in the post–Cold War period. Maingot (1988) reviewed US–Caribbean relations from 1823 to the 1980s, seeking to understand, as he put it, the effect of “geopolitics in a sphere of influence.” Venezuelan scholar Andrés Serbín (1990) analyzed the English-speaking Caribbean's role in hemispheric geopolitics, in the context of what he called the “long-term” US desire for regional hegemony. Contributors to Bark (1986) focused on the Soviet Union's spreading influence through proxies in Cuba, Central America, and Grenada, while Blasier (1988) saw Soviet relations with the Caribbean basin and Latin American countries as formal, practical, cautious, and politically useful. However, a larger number of works on great power politics adopt a case study perspective. Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti have all been specifically affected over a long period of time by US (and Soviet in the case of Cuba) geopolitical and realist maneuverings. Among the many works published about each country's problems and crises – far too many to include in this review – are a useful study by Pérez on Cuba–US relations (1990); Lévesque's study of Soviet ideological and strategic perspectives with respect to Cuba (1979); Atkins and Wilson's (1972) book on US relations with the Dominican dictator Trujillo; Atkins and Wilson (1998) on the history of relations between Haiti and the Dominican Republic; and studies by Logan (1941) and Plummer (1988) on US–Haiti historical relations. Interestingly, Pérez (2002) argues that the US policy of undermining Fidel Castro (and, it can be presumed, Raúl Castro) stems from anger at his resistance to US hegemony.

However, it is not only the great powers that have competed for influence in the Caribbean: regional middle powers have played significant roles as well. The Restless Caribbean by Millett and Will (1979), two books edited by Erisman (1984) and Erisman and Martz (1984), and Adelman and Reading's edited volume on security, sovereignty, and survival in the Caribbean basin (1984) were early examples of works that examined both US and Soviet relations as well as the role of Cuba, Venezuela, and Mexico, which were seen as competing for influence in the region. In Bryan, Greene, and Shaw's edited volume (1990), contributors examined the geopolitical environment with respect to US, Latin American, Canadian, and European interests, Europe being described by Clarke (1990) as having gone “from colonial hegemony to geopolitical marginality.” Venezuelan perceived ambitions in the Caribbean have generated a particular literature, including Boersner's early contribution on these expanding relations (1978), and Serbín's synthesis of research conducted on Venezuelan geopolitics at various university centers in Venezuela (1983). Concerns about Venezuelan “imperialism” (as well as a wide range of other Caribbean security concerns) have also been addressed in Braveboy-Wagner (1989; 2007).

Cuba's foreign policy ambitions during the Cold War have been extensively analyzed, and usually refer to some conception of Cuba's national interest. In fact Cuban scholar Alzugaray (2006) has reviewed Cuba's foreign policy from a realist conceptualization of the country's interests, noting that, military activities aside, Cuba possesses “soft” power, which is the ability to exercise influence through its proactive international activities in health, the arts, music, and sports. Several books specifically deal with Cuba in Africa (for example, edited books by Mesa-Lago and Belkin 1982, and by Díaz-Briquets 1989); Fernández (1988) analyzes Cuba's role in the Middle East. Soviet-Cuban activities in Nicaragua and the English-speaking Caribbean are described by R. Payne (1988), and Cuba's role in the world in general by Blasier and Mesa-Lago (1979), among others. Works on Cuba's post–Cold War activities, which are less expansionist than survivalist, are cited in the subsection on Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches to Foreign Policy, below.

Liberalism and Caribbean Foreign Policies

Both classical political liberalism with its emphasis on orderly competitiveness and the rational cooperative emphasis of neoliberal institutionalism bear some implications for foreign policy analysis in the Caribbean, despite the fact that both perspectives can be critiqued as grounded in Western conceptions.

In the case of the Caribbean, the substantial role of transnational corporations and the international financial institutions has been particularly emphasized in analyses of external relations (see, for example, Girvan 1971; Barry et al. 1984; Bartilow 1997). Moreover, in line with the international relations literature which has generally recognized the importance of international organizations for global south states (see, for example, East 1973; Keohane and Nye 1989), in the Caribbean there has been a vogue for international institutionalism and coalitional behavior, which is, however, also related to the realities of small size.

In the Caribbean, the characteristics of liberal democracy have been more on display than they have been elsewhere in the developing world. Despite some aberrations in the 1970s and 1980s (that is, revolution in Grenada and authoritarianism in Guyana), the English-speaking Caribbean states have adhered to democratic traditions and institutions, thus rendering democratization relatively non-explanatory with respect to their foreign policy, except in terms of their public stances in international organizations. The anglophone countries have also had a tradition of respect for human rights. Thus the Caribbean literature on democracy and human rights has tended to center on problems encountered in the older Caribbean nations – Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and the special case of revolutionary Cuba.

Nevertheless, given the personalist bent of politics in all of these countries, they have shared some common structural problems with respect to their political systems. One of the more comprehensive books dealing with one such issue, democratic robustness, as well as the embeddedness of social and economic rights (to which, as the editors note, “lip service” is often paid) is Griffith and Sedoc-Dahlberg's edited volume (1997). Many of the contributions to this volume carry some foreign policy implications in view of the region's public normative stances. Particularly useful chapters are one on Cuba describing the role of human rights groups in the country; one comparing the role of nongovernmental organizations and intergovernmental organizations in promoting liberal democracy in Nicaragua and Guyana; and those examining refugee and racial issues in Suriname (where there has been a period of military rule) and in the Dominican Republic. Other than this edited volume, mention should be made of Dilla's (1966) compilation, which explores the important issue of the role democracy has played in US–Cuban relations. Another work, by Dupuy (1997), asserts that the US intervention to restore President Aristide to power (and ostensibly redemocratize Haiti) actually halted fundamental social transformation in that island. Finally, Morley and McGillion (1997) also suggest (in looking at Haiti) that the US tendency to focus on state stability and continuity raises problematic issues for the longer term.

Closer to the domestic liberal approach often adopted by foreign policy analysts is the work of Bell (1979) and Bell and Gibson (1978) on elite attitudes and foreign policy. The author(s) focus on Jamaica, showing that changes in the attitudes of the ruling elites led to a change in the country's foreign policy orientation from a pro-West one after independence to a nonaligned one shortly thereafter, despite little change in the orientations of the business elite. It should be noted that the Caribbean region has not been immune to serious contention among elites, which often generates societal tensions as well. For example, the different orientations among Cuban elites in foreign policy have been discussed by González (1979), Benemelis (1985) and Fernández (1986), among others. Elite contention in Jamaica has led some scholars to devise a number of critical foreign policy conceptualizations of Jamaica's foreign policy. In this regard, Biddle and Stephens's (1989) work analyzing elite differences during the administration of Michael Manley, and Persaud's (2001) study which focuses on the role of various social forces in support of a counterhegemonic foreign policy, are particularly notable.

The bulk of Caribbean international relations analyses assume a political economic perspective, and only some of them have direct foreign policy implications (see below). One study that eschews political economy in favor of a clear neoliberalist perspective is Maingot's United States and the Caribbean, which is appropriately subtitled in one edition (1994) “Challenges of an Asymmetrical Relationship.” Maingot situates his discussion within the perspective of complex interdependence, arguing that the relationship between the Caribbean and the United States is less a matter of dependence than one of reciprocal interdependence. Here he draws up a rational behavior model of US–Caribbean cooperation.

As noted, there has been an increasing recognition in Caribbean scholarship of the role of nonstate actors. Beyond the older analyses of the role of transnational corporations and international financial institutions, attention has begun to be paid to the role of civil society/nongovernmental organizations both as advocates for state and regional foreign policies and as pursuers of their own “foreign” initiatives (see Serbín [2003] for a discussion of civil society and foreign policy; Byron and Girvan [2000] for a description of the role of NGOs in the greater Caribbean; Karides [2002] for an analysis of the transnational links of a local women's NGO in the face of globalization).

Finally, in keeping with neoliberalism's acceptance of a diverse global issue agenda and a diversity of actors, it should be noted that foreign economic policy is fundamental to foreign policy in the Caribbean as in the global south as a whole. In Latin America and the Caribbean, commercial neoliberalism has in the post–Cold War period provided the underpinnings for domestic and foreign economic strategies. Foreign policy has become focused on free trade, investment, regional integration, and other strategies that have been prioritized in the scholarly literature as well. Some of the key works in this genre are noted later. In the post–Cold War era, what used to be considered “low politics” – environmental issues, drugs, crime, immigration, human security – preoccupy Caribbean policy makers as well as scholars. Most of the work in this genre is descriptive and policy-oriented. One example of a work that includes some theoretical analysis is the edited volume by Desch, Dominguez, and Serbín (1998). Contributors to the volume analyze these new issues while applying state perspectives as well as civil society and nonstate perspectives, and while including institutional and transnational foci.

Constructivism/Critical Theory and Africa/Caribbean Foreign Policies

The constructivist focus on ideas, identities, and normative influences has opened the way for fresh conceptualizations. In addition, critical approaches that question the predominant discourses in international relations (IR) have long attracted scholars of the global south, particularly when in the form of neo-Marxist perspectives.

Caribbean scholars of IR and foreign policy have not yet begun to employ constructivist interpretations in an organized fashion; however, constructivism is not new to the region. Nationalism and identity have been recurrent themes in the foreign policy literature, although not as common as in the region's vibrant literary traditions. An early example of the constructivist approach in IR is to be found in Levine (1989). Levine, a sociologist, proposed that not only were definitions of the Caribbean socially constructed on the basis of deliberate choices by the user for the specific purpose of articulating and legitimizing specific interests, but the geopolitical climate of the Caribbean was itself a social construction. In the 1970s and 1980s, geopolitics was defined by scholars in terms that reflected competing visions, and sometimes oversocialized conceptions as well – in particular, conceptions of imperialism – viewed through the prism of political exaggeration. Levine's work was not matched by others, and the dominant geopolitical approach remained one based on fixed material interests. However, there have been some recent attempts to incorporate constructivist notions, in particular in terms of identity and ideas.

As an example, Alzugaray (2006) has pointed out that foreign policy has been used by the Cuban leadership to redefine Cuban identity in antihegemonic terms, and also that the “soft power” of Cuban internationalism (that is, Cuba's transborder activities) has contributed to the social construction of a third world global projection. Braveboy-Wagner (2007) sees “smallness” as the major identity of Caribbean states, affecting most of their foreign policy behavior. Giacalone (2003) has tried to meld international political economy with a constructivist approach while seeking to develop a framework for understanding Latin American and Caribbean regional integration as foreign policy. Giacalone explores how external ideas (i.e., neoliberalism) come to be accepted by local business elites and in turn are accepted and acted on by policy makers. Caribbean scholars also recognize the significant impact of global norms on these small states; for example, the superimposition of global free trade norms over traditional diplomatic practices (Barfield 2005). Likewise, these states have played a global role in promoting such norms as the idea of “special and differential treatment” for small developing countries (Byron 2000), adherence to democracy and human rights, and in particular, environmental rules specific to small-island developing states (Braveboy-Wagner 2007). Most of this normative work has, however, not been specifically undertaken with constructivism in mind.

In general, Caribbean scholars have favored critical approaches to international relations, in particular neo-Marxist approaches such as dependency. As already noted, many scholars have decried the impact of US political and economic hegemony, and, since the 1990s, many works have been devoted to the problems inherent in the neoliberal model as well as the effects of globalization. Relevant works on these topics include Serbín (1998), contributions on globalization in Klak (1997), and Dupuy's critique of neoliberalism in Haiti (1997). A popular alternative discourse on Haiti written by a non-political scientist is Farmer (1994).

Comparative Foreign Policy/Foreign Policy Analysis

Decision Making

Early work on foreign policy owes much to the decision making analyses of scholars such as Snyder, Bruck, and Sapin (1962) and Brecher (1975), but detailed and comparative decision making analyses have been rare. However, there have been a few attempts in Caribbean scholarship both to analyze specific decisions as well as to decipher the policy making process as a whole.

In the Caribbean, scholars have cited personalistic decision making as a key national trait. Early contributions were made by Ince (1977), who made the point indirectly by noting the limited role of parliament in the foreign policy of Commonwealth Caribbean states as well as the deleterious effects of non-consultation. Ince (1983) went on to employ a rational decision making framework in an analysis of the decision in 1967 of Trinidad and Tobago to join the Organization of American States (OAS), the first English-speaking country to do so. He found that strong political leadership was the crucial variable. Later, Braveboy-Wagner (1989) provided a comprehensive analysis of the role of leaders vis-à-vis cabinets, legislatures, and bureaucracies in the English-speaking Caribbean, and analyzed the decision making process during one crucial Caribbean crisis, the 1983 US invasion of Grenada. In related vein, Williams (1996; 2007) sought to provide support for a specific contention: that during the 1983 intervention the Eastern Caribbean small states were not pawns in a process promoted by the superpower but were in effect the “tail that wagged the dog.” This he does by marshaling sufficient empirical evidence to raise doubts about the more common viewpoint.

With respect to Cuba, most well-known are the large number of studies done on the Cuban Missile Crisis from the US perspective (Beck 1991; Allison and Zelikow 1999; Blight and Brenner 2002). A few studies have also addressed key US refugee decisions (Rivera 1991, Engstrom 1997; Greenhill 2003). However, studies of decision making from the Cuban perspective itself are rare. One study that uses a traditional rational approach is Fernández's (1992) attempt to develop a hierarchy of factors influencing Cuban foreign policy decision making. Noting that Cuban foreign policy (up to 1990) rested on four pillars: charismatic leadership and ideology, the domestic political system, the connection to the Soviet Union, and the international context, Fernández goes on to analyze the role of the “maximum leader,” his advisers, the various parts of the bureaucracy, the military, and the research centers. For Fernández, Cuba is not unlike other third world countries except that the party's role is primary and the legislature has little power. He concludes by applying his framework to the decision to send Cuban troops to Angola as well as the decision to negotiate a settlement of the Angola conflict.

By expanding the idea of decision making, studies of bargaining and negotiation can be included. Among systematic studies are Farrell's analysis of negotiations between the government of Trinidad and Tobago and multinational corporations (1983), Bartilow's (1997) study of negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and Barfield's (2005) analysis of the Eastern Caribbean's protracted negotiations in the 1990s and 2000s with the World Trade Organization (WTO) regarding bananas. Barfield concludes that the traditionally strong diplomatic practices of Eastern Caribbean states have been superseded by the impact of international rules and norms. Unfortunately, most studies of important external negotiations involving the Caribbean, such as those seeking parity for the region within the North American Free Trade Area (NAFTA), those dealing with negotiations on hemispheric free trade, and on trade with the European Union (EU) remain descriptive rather than conceptual. A somewhat more analytical study than most is Henke's (1998) discussion of the differing perceptions of the United States and the Caribbean during what is called the “shiprider” controversy of 1995, when the United States pressed Caribbean countries to agree to certain policies on narcotics interdiction that were interpreted by some as infringing on their sovereignty.

Although studies of decision making autonomy vis-à-vis external forces may not use traditional decision making models, they are also relevant to foreign policy making in small global south countries. Lewis (1976:229) encapsulates the approach by asking whether Caribbean states, though formally sovereign when engaging in necessary relationships in the international environment, are actually sovereign enough to “cope with the complexities of the environment.” Similarly, in 1992 Erisman analyzed Caribbean capacity to engage in counterdependency, using “dependency” to refer to the “external penetration of a Third World country's economic, political and/or sociocultural processes that is so pervasive that ultimately crucial decisionmaking power is acquired and exercised by outsiders” (1992:11). Indeed both Rosenau's (1966, or 1980) contributions on acquiescent and adaptive policies (even though critiqued as fallacious by Addo [1983] because they ignore the particular circumstances of the Caribbean small states’ insertion into the global political economy), as well as the literature on dependent states discussed in the next section are relevant to assessments of Caribbean foreign policy decision making.

Regional decision making has also been an important focus for Caribbean scholars, most of whom have adopted the political economy perspective but with an eye on the foreign policy aspects of integration as well. Brewster (1983) used a model of “collective decision making” to evaluate the degree to which Caricom had (at the time) deepened regional integration. Searwar (1988) assessed the mechanisms, influences, and difficulties of effecting coordinated regional foreign policy decision making in both economic and political (particularly security) areas, referring to such (centrifugal) influences as ideology, dependency, national characteristics, and differing leadership perceptions. More recently, with Caricom having been broadened and deepened in the post–Cold War period, Byron (2004) has gone beyond the many assessments of the economic aspects of integration to look at some of the advances made and limitations experienced with respect to the coordination of foreign policy.

Finally, rational analyses of foreign policy include Preiswerk's (1969) classic review of goals and strategies of Commonwealth Caribbean states, Braveboy-Wagner's expansion of these into a comprehensive framework (1989), and Reid's (1974) study of the influences on the behavior of microstates. Relevant contributions in Ferris and Lincoln (1981) outlined various issues and strategies that the editors then sought to summarize into their own rational model/hypotheses about the issue areas and determinants of Latin American foreign policies. More recently, Alzugaray (2006) has offered a single country (Cuba) model framed specifically in terms of “interests, aims, and outcomes.”

Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches to Foreign Policy

CFP combined a focus on comparative theorizing with quantitative or rigorous qualitative methodology, but the main methodology of large-N quantitative studies did not shed strong light on Caribbean foreign policy, given that data limitations meant that most of these studies included very few Caribbean countries to begin with. East (1973) included Cuba in his empirical test of the idea that smaller countries engage in different behavior than do larger countries and Richardson and Kegley (1980) found some evidence of compliant behavior among developing states when they correlated measures of trade dependence with UN voting for the period 1950 to 1973. Among the countries that were considered to be “export dependent” were Cuba (for 1950–60), Haiti, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago. Moon (1985) included Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti in his analysis that gave some support to the effect of consensus arising from dependency on state behavior; and Hagan (1989) found that regime change was a significant predictor of realignments in UN voting agreement with the United States, although a number of countries defied his predictions. Hagan's data set included Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Guyana, and Jamaica. In addition, using a narrower N-subset, Harbert (1976) included Barbados, Guyana, and Trinidad and Tobago in his analysis of the behavior of ministates at the UN. He found that they were more cohesive on colonial and economic than on political or social issues, that they voted more closely with the USSR on the first set of issues and more with the United States on social and cultural issues, and that they voted closely with their larger Asian and African blocs.

Few Caribbean specialists took up the challenge of quantitative analysis, most scholars preferring more detailed descriptive-analytical research. Sutton (1977) used quantitative analysis to assess the external interactions among Central American states, Panama, and “older” Caribbean states between 1948 and 1964, seeking to ascertain, among other things, if the changes in Cuba had had an effect on patterns of cooperation and conflict among these states. He found that their interactions were quite stable even though conflict had increased, that Cuba's revolutionary presence had not led to polarization (as small group theories put forward by Galtung [1968] might suggest), and that geography was more of a determinant than rank (based on economic development). Fauriol (1984) analyzed the foreign policies of Guyana, Haiti, and Jamaica, using Conflict and Peace Data Bank (COPDAB) events data to categorize these countries’ behavior in terms of conflict and cooperation. However, Fauriol noted that his work was limited by the fact that the Caribbean data were “not in a usable format” (1984:26) and, as noted by a reviewer, the substantive core of his work consisted of only two chapters out of nine (Martz 1986:166). Fauriol focused narrowly on the tenure of Haiti's “Papa Doc” François Duvalier, on Michael Manley’s first term in office in Jamaica, and on issues arising out of the Venezuela–Guyana border dispute.

Braveboy-Wagner (1989) offered the first comprehensive analysis of the foreign policy of the English-speaking Caribbean nations as a group. In a chapter on the influences on foreign policy she intercorrelated measures of size, wealth, military assistance, trade, aid, missions sent and received, state visits, and UN voting and found that “economic closeness to the United States, measured as level of aid from and level of trade with that country is indeed strongly related to diplomatic and security closeness measured as voting agreement, visits sent, and commercial purchases of arms” (Braveboy-Wagner 1989:155). In the 1980s, visits sent were also correlated with official military aid received. She concluded that the Caribbean relationship with the United States, and by implication the West in general, was multidimensional.

Quantitative approaches to the study of the Caribbean were limited not only because of lack of interest by scholars but also because of the small N of cases. On the other hand, there were a number of important descriptive-analytical studies of the influence of various factors on foreign policy. Of particular interest to scholars was the relationship between size and foreign policy, primarily because at the level of practical international relations, in the 1970s the viability of small states was being vigorously debated at the UN and in global think tanks. In the CFP literature, Rosenau (1966) also initiated a focus on size, positing that in small countries individual and systemic factors would exert the major influence on foreign policy behavior, and that small states would adopt an acquiescent foreign policy posture (1980).

East (1973) linked small size to selective, economically oriented, and verbally risky behavior. Using East's model, Reid (1974; 1979) posited that Caribbean microstates would adopt low-cost methods of foreign policy interaction, favor multilateral over bilateral diplomacy, act on a joint basis with other states of similar capability, attach greater importance to international organizations, and focus on economic issues of trade, aid, and development. Reid applied these ideas to a detailed study of Barbados and found that, on the contrary, the day-to-day conduct of foreign relations remained based on traditional patterns of activity and was not necessarily selective or economically oriented.

The literature on CFP also suggested that level of development/modernization and type of political system (Rosenau 1966; Feierabend and Feierabend 1969; Salmore and Hermann 1970; Morse 1970) would have an impact on foreign policy behavior. With respect to resources, Reid found that small size did lead to limited resources and associated limited manpower, which prevented the exercise of control over the broad spectrum of Barbadian foreign activity. However, Braveboy-Wagner (1989) found that size and per capita Gross National Product (GNP) were not highly correlated in the English-speaking Caribbean, where economies range from energy-producing Trinidad and Tobago to a number of economies that are dependent on financial services to others that are tourism-dependent and/or primary producers: size itself was the main influencer of diplomatic activity whereas GNP “wealth” was associated primarily with trade and aid patterns. As for political system, the most common characteristic of Caribbean states, democratic or not, has been personalism, that is, strong leadership. Thus foreign policy scholars have focused on the centralization of foreign policy in the hands of the executive (Ince 1983; Braveboy-Wagner 2003a; 2007 for the Caribbean Community states; Fernández 1992; González and Ronfeldt 1986; Suárez 1985; and others for Cuba). While the last two works both stress the role of the charismatic leader, they utilize different approaches: González and Ronfeldt use a political psychology/personality framework whereas Suárez uses an empirical approach based on events and ideology.

Beyond personalism, with most English-speaking Caribbean states sharing a democratic culture, Braveboy-Wagner (1989) focused instead on regime change, using t-tests to try to determine the influence of socialism and of regime changes in general on foreign policy behavior. She found that socialist Caribbean regimes sent and received more visits than their counterparts, but that regime change other than ideological changes generated only minor economic changes (1989:160, 177 n.6, n.7). In another area, as noted earlier, scholars have related small size to the penetration of the decision making process by outsiders, and the resulting lack of autonomy in foreign policy decision making. Size is also related to dependency (discussed in the subsection on Political Economic Approaches, below).

More broadly, awareness of the problems of size has also led to a great deal of scholarly analysis of security issues affecting the Caribbean. This pervasive concern for small states dates back at least to Vital's analyses of the security and survival of small European states (1967; 1971). Caribbean states are considered to be highly vulnerable to threats and pressures from larger neighbors, as well as being economically vulnerable. Ideological and political turmoil in the 1970s led to a heightened focus on this problem and many of the studies published at that time and since then – with the emergence of new political threats in the post–Cold War world – do have foreign policy implications in terms of the defensive international postures small countries adopt. Among the works on security that have been significant are major studies by the Commonwealth Secretariat (1985; 1997), which served to highlight the extensive external as well as internal threats to microstates; and analyses of post–Cold War security challenges such as the drug trade, financial crime, and terrorism, all of which have implications for sometimes-contentious relations with the United States and Europe (see Payne 1988; Beruff and García Muñiz 1996; Griffith 1997; 2004; Desch et al. 1998; Tulchin and Espach 2000). Important to foreign policy are the international, national, and regional initiatives undertaken to enhance security (Bryan et al. 1990; see in particular contributions by Linton on the exchange of information and diplomacy, and by Lewis on international security arrangements in the region). Sutton (1993) sees diplomacy as a “security resource” since small states use diplomatic outreach and collaboration as a means to counter threats.

The separate literature on Cuba has traditionally focused on threats emanating from the United States (as noted in the earlier geopolitical section). In a twist for a small state, Cuba has also been involved in other countries’ political and security affairs, promoting the “pursuit of freedom” abroad (Thomas 1971) and military activities around the world (Blasier and Mesa-Lago 1979; Weinstein 1979; Dominguez 1989). In the post–Cold War period, the issue for Cuba has been how to survive in a new unipolar environment. Contributors to edited volumes such as Dominguez and Hernández (1989), Ritter and Kirk (1995), Tulchin et al. (1997), and Erisman and Kirk (2006), all focus on the changing political and economic dimensions of Cuba–US relations, as well as on Cuba's continued efforts to diversify its economy and expand its relations with Europe, Canada, Latin America, and the Caribbean in the context of strategies of survival.

In terms of the domestic sources of foreign policy that CFP analysts highlight, the theoretical literature on the Caribbean is relatively small. Examples of the literature on elites have already been cited. Additional note can be made of the studies by Ince (1977; 1979a; 1979b), who found that parliamentarians in Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago are not kept informed or consulted about important developments in foreign policy, leaving opposition members, as well as the public at large, without appropriate opportunities for input. He also analyzed why foreign policy issues are not given salience in national elections (and also in general) in Trinidad and Tobago, citing as explanations the limited parliamentary debate and interest, government reticence to release foreign policy information, the public's low interest, and the media's lack of dissemination of information. Although Ince's work was published in the 1970s, Braveboy-Wagner (2007) suggests that the same pattern obtains in the 2000s.

On the other hand, Fernández (1992) concludes in his study of Cuban foreign policy that popular opinion, while not crucial and certainly circumscribed, is indeed taken into consideration by the leadership in devising foreign policy. Braveboy-Wagner (2007:184–97) notes that in terms of societal input, national and regional business elites have increased their influence in the era of economic liberalization, that labor groups have gained some say as social partners, that nongovernmental groups have increased in number if not in actual influence, and that Caribbean publics, though well informed through various media outlets, tend to focus only on selected “intermestic” issues such as international criminality and drug trafficking problems. With respect to NGOs and global civil society as a whole, the linkages between local and transnational groups in terms of advocacy for and against state and regional foreign policies are receiving some attention in the scholarly literature (Karides 2002; Serbín 2003).

Scholars have also begun to pay attention to the role of the Caribbean diaspora. The sheer numbers of Caribbean immigrants living in major metropolitan centers, the ever increasing importance of remittances to the economies of many Caribbean nations (especially Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and some of the Eastern Caribbean islands), and the regularity of interaction between those at home and abroad have all led Caribbean governments to pay more attention to this constituency. In this respect, the role of Cuban exiles in the United States has for some time occupied a special niche in American research (see Haney and Vanderbush 1999). More broadly, Garza and Pachon's (2000) edited book contains a range of contributions on the role and perceptions of Latinos in US foreign policy, including a survey of the issues that interest various ethnic subsections of the population, the role of family ties and ethnic lobbies, home country responses, and US perspectives on Latinos as an ethnic lobby. For scholars of the Caribbean, the sections on the Dominican and Cuban populations are particularly relevant. As for the rest of the region, Payne's (1998) think-tank study of the lobbying role of the West Indian, Dominican, and Haitian diaspora is noteworthy, particularly because Haitian groups were very proactive during various refugee crises in the 1980s and 1990s as well as in promoting their various interests during the exile of President Aristide.

More generally, while most migration studies focus on outflows, returns, and adaptation, some studies of significance to foreign policy can be mentioned. Martinez (1995) and Bissainthe (2002) analyze migration policies and diaspora challenges for Haitians in the Dominican Republic; Pastor (1987) and Gordon (1997) are among those who assess the impact of changing US immigration policy on Caribbean migration; and Mitchell (2004) studies the impact of 9/11 on migration relations between the Caribbean and the United States. An interesting framework on the balseros crisis (the 1994 refugee outflow from Cuba) is employed by Greenhill (2003), who proposes that Cuba used the refugees as a political weapon, a tactic that the author calls “engineered migration.”

Some variables that are less commonly employed in US and European foreign policy studies have featured prominently in Caribbean scholarship. One such variable is nationalism, stressed by Erisman (1985), and Alzugaray (1989) in the case of Cuba; Ince (1979b) for (formerly) socialist Guyana; and Spanakos and Wiarda (2003) in the case of the Dominican Republic. Vasciannie (1997) sees “national pride” as an important factor in explaining Jamaica's resistance to US pressures on narcotics issues. Another less common variable is race, used again by Ince (along with ideology) to explain Guyana's foreign ties with India and Africa; by Edmondson and Phillips (1979) to explain Caribbean–Africa alignments; by Grabendorff (1980) to describe the determinants of Cuban policy toward Africa; by Bryan and Serbín (1994) to discuss the stereotypes and images that have been or remain to be overcome in the relations between English-speaking Caribbean nations and Latin American countries; and by Logan (1968) and Sagas (2000) among others, who analyze the impact of antiHaitianism on relations between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Moore's Castro, the Blacks, and Africa (1993) is a classic work in which the author suggests that racial considerations have been a major influence on Cuban policy toward Africa and the United States. Fernández (1992:64) sees culture and history as establishing a tradition, style, and political culture that impacts the form and substance of foreign policy. Race/culture and negative images/perceptions are interlinked to a large degree: thus Plummer (1992) frames US negative perceptions of Haiti through the prism of race, and Cottam (1994) blames US interventionist policies in the Caribbean on policy makers’ “negative, contemptuous, and paternalistic views of ‘dependent’ (weak, inferior, childlike, inept and corrupt) Latin American people and cultures” (Atkins 2001:170–1). Dupuy (1989) also cites the historical role of class and race in Haiti's relations with France and the United States. Smith (2005) discusses Haiti's “strange” relationship with Caricom: although the community accepted Haiti as a member in 1997 (effective 2002, and suspended between 2004 and 2006), the relationship has been largely based on negative stereotypes and cultural misunderstandings that have had an adverse impact on Caricom's attempts to resolve Haiti's political crises.

Gender is a factor that has not been well addressed in studies of Caribbean foreign policy although it has been a strong focus in the development literature. Empirically, Braveboy-Wagner (2007:224–6) notes that Caricom foreign services were once overwhelmingly male but by the 1970s women had begun entering in relatively large numbers. In the most sought-after embassies in Washington and New York, women equaled men in 2007. One foreign ministry, Trinidad and Tobago's, was predominantly female in 2007, including at ambassadorial, permanent secretary (head-of-service), and foreign ministry levels. However, in general female personnel have been promoted to the ambassadorial level relatively slowly and the number of female foreign ministers remains small.

In terms of conceptual approaches to gender, Thorburn (1997) and more fully, Byron and Thorburn (1998) situate pertinent Caribbean policy problems such as domestic violence and economic and social marginalization within the literature on feminist IR and suggest that although mainstream IR has not factored gender into the formulation or enactment of foreign policy, “foreign ministries and missions have been forced to deal with women's and gender issues such as migration, especially of domestic workers, international prostitution, female refugees, and the women inter-island traders” (Byron and Thorburn 1998:223).

A recurring theme in the development literature (with foreign policy implications) has been the fate of Caribbean women employed in low-wage jobs, export processing zones, and tourist sectors, and the survival strategies adopted by women in the face of poorly devised (and generally neoliberal) government policies (Deere 1990; Giacalone 1997 also overviews women's political and NGO participation). But the link between women and foreign policy has been made best by Enloe (1989), who included such women, diplomatic wives, and women on military bases in her conceptualization of those who facilitate the business of foreign policy. Also to be mentioned, though more appropriate as “queer” studies than strictly feminist study, is Weber's (1999) innovative postmodern interpretation of US–Caribbean relations as an effort by the United States to reclaim its masculinity after its castration by Castro.

Returning to more traditional approaches, bureaucratic factors have been addressed in the Caribbean literature in two ways: first, a few authors have analyzed the role of one or more key agencies: for example Fernández (1992) assessed the roles of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of the Interior, the Communist Party, and the Armed Forces. Dominguez (1979), among others, described the role of the armed forces in foreign relations, a role considerably reduced in the post–Cold War period. Braveboy-Wagner (2007) details the rivalry between the economic and foreign affairs bureaucracies. Second, a number of scholars have addressed the practical issues involved in the management and implementation of foreign policy. Ince (1976) focused on resource limitations and training issues, and Linton (1990) on the information-gathering deficiencies of Caribbean foreign services. An extensive discussion of morale, training, resources and bureaucratic problems is provided by Braveboy-Wagner (2007; see also a discussion of problems Caribbean ambassadors face in Washington [1995]). Sutton and Payne (1992) offer suggestions for economic diplomacy vis-à-vis the EU and North America. Justin Robertson (1998) uses the concept of a “fragmented” model of foreign policy administration to describe Trinidad and Tobago's managerial response to globalization. This model, he says, empowered the trade bureaucracy over the foreign ministry.

Political Economic Approaches to Foreign Policy

By the 1980s, many CFP scholars had turned away from the field and instead to the growing field of international political economy, which offered systemic (globalist) explanations for the circumstances and pressing development problems of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Particularly intriguing for scholars was the dependency thesis that originated in Latin America and stressed the negative consequences of metropolitan or “core” exploitation of the resources of the global south. A related thesis, world-systems theory, focused instead on patterns of global capital accumulation and the resulting divisions of the world into core, peripheral, and semi-peripheral nations.

The international political economy (IPE) approach was not inherently adaptable to foreign policy analysis. As Rosenau pointed out (1988), CFP and IPE were oriented in different ways: one looking at the micro level, the other at the macro; one focused on political-security issues, the other on economic. However, given the growing prominence of economic affairs, Rosenau and others rightly called for a cross-fertilization of ideas in the two fields. Indeed, although most northern scholars had tended to ignore economics, to scholars of the global south economic priorities had long been fundamental to foreign policy planning and activities.

By the late 1970s Caribbean foreign policy scholars, like their counterparts in Latin America, were analyzing deeply issues of neocolonialism and dependency. Inherent in small nations with open economies such as those of most of the Caribbean, were multidimensional vulnerabilities, one of which was excessive dependence on external trade, investment, and aid. This dependence was problematic but “dependency” was even more so. The dependency thesis, which originated in Latin America, posited that the injection of capitalism into the global south, and the dependent relationships that resulted, had hampered the development of the southern nations (the periphery). Dependentistas also argued that it was difficult to break the bonds of dependence, given that it was based on the mutual interests of the bourgeoisie in the south and the business elites in the industrialized countries (the core). Dependency was not just an economic phenomenon but also was reflected in subordinate political and cultural relations (among many, see Frank 1967; Chilcote and Edelstein 1974; Cardoso and Faletto 1976).

While dependency was not a foreign policy theory, and in fact was not provable by any empirical means, even though US scholars tried to quantify it in terms of the impact of foreign investment and aid on GDP growth, the notion that an economically dependent state would exhibit compliant behavior and further, that one characterized by the dependency syndrome would comply because of a conditioned agreement with a dominant state was amenable to research and a level of empirical testing. Large-N studies done by Wittkopf (1973), Richardson and Kegley (1980), and Rai (1980), among others, found some relationship between foreign aid dependence/trade dependence and voting in the General Assembly, but in general correlations were not strong. Moon (1985) took the idea further by trying to assess whether the voting patterns of dependent states conformed to a bargaining-compliant or a consensus-dependency model. Moon noted that “the incorporation of a national elite into an internationalized bourgeoisie produces decisionmakers who, owing not only to the economic interests they share with American elites through transactions but also to their shared values and perspectives, produce policy virtually indistinguishable from that which would be generated by American elites” (1985:306). In his test of the relationship between UN voting and US foreign military and economic aid, he tried to distinguish between compliance and consensus by generating a counterfactual baseline. Although he found that the more a country relied on the United States the greater its voting similarity, the results offered support but not, however, proof that dependency was at work.

Caribbean scholars have not been inclined to use correlation analysis to support the complex arguments of the dependency thesis. One attempt (Braveboy-Wagner 1989) found that the level of aid, trade, and commercial arms purchases between the Caribbean countries and the United States was significantly correlated with voting agreement and visits sent, but as the author admitted, the small N made results indicative only. Indeed, as Harbert pointed out in his 1976 study of ministates, the voting patterns of these small states show shifting alignments that “underscore[s] the[ir] political sophistication and relative independence from large power pressure” (1976:110). In fact, analysis of the historical pattern of voting of Caricom states (including Haiti and Suriname) shows that the average Caricom agreement with the United States, which is the main export market for most Caricom countries, was only 20–30 percent in the 1970s and 1980s, and less than 20 percent in the 2000s (Braveboy-Wagner 2007:160–4).

Rather than quantitative analysis, Caribbean scholars have preferred to employ analytical as well as theoretical frameworks to discuss dependency. A strong political economic tradition developed in the region in the 1960s and 1970s centered on the articulation of the problem of “persistent poverty” generated by the pervasive plantation economy (Beckford 1972), as well as the problems inherent in the model of externally propelled industrialization that had been adopted throughout the region (see Girvan 1973; for a popular, empirically oriented critique of foreign control by nonregional scholars, see Barry et al. 1984). While some scholars (for example, Thomas 1974) favored socialist transformation of Caribbean economies as a way to counter dependence, most theorists agreed with proposals by agencies such as the UN Economic Commission for Latin America for reforms of and delinking from the international economic system. None of these political economic studies can be classified as foreign policy analyses per se, but they did imply that more nationalist foreign economic policies should be pursued by governments – which indeed most Caricom countries did pursue in the 1970s.

A particular strategy adopted in the region was regional integration, which is viewed in the region as a fundamental aspect of foreign policy. Caricom was created in 1973, following on a free trade area initiated in 1967. Regionalism was generally seen as a strategy to counter dependence and promote collective self-reliance, as advocated in UN proposals for a New International Economic Order (Demas 1978; Hall and Blake 1981; Benn 1984), even if radical dependency theorists such as Thomas (1979) predictably saw Caribbean integration as a continuation of the dependent peripheral status of Caribbean countries within the system of international capitalism.

A sampling of the large number of relevant works on regional integration follows: Preiswerk (1969) was one of the early analysts of the prospects for regionalism as a strategy for economic development and improving international trade. Erisman (1992) analyzed regionalism as “post-dependency” politics (or controlled dependence) based on south–south diversification of Caribbean relations. Axline (1979) focused on the theory of integration and the prospects and political obstacles facing Caribbean regionalism. Contributors to Payne and Sutton (1984) addressed a broad range of issues including the limitations of the socialist models that had been adopted earlier, issues surrounding oil capitalism in Trinidad and Tobago, and problems of dependence on the United States and Britain.

A large literature evolved assessing the problems and prospects and levels of cooperation within Caricom (selected chronological examples are Bryan 1984; Payne 1985; Will 1991; West Indian Commission 1992; Rainford 1997; Hall 2001; 2003; Byron 2004). More specific scholarship on regionally negotiated foreign trade initiatives includes Sutton (1990; 1995), and Sutton and Payne (1992–3), focusing on Caricom's economic relations with the EU; Gonzales (1989) on Caricom's multi-targeted economic diplomacy and (1995) on relations with Europe after the end of trade preferences; Basdeo (1992) on Canada–Caricom relations; Grant (1997) on preferential arrangements with the United States and on relations within the Association of Caribbean States, a grouping of Central American and Caribbean states formed in 1994; Gill (1995) on the challenges of NAFTA; Bernal (1995) on influencing US economic policy in the post–Cold War period; Gonzalez Nuñez (1997) and Fernández and Nazario (1997) on Cuba–Caricom relations; Serbín (1991; 1997) on Caricom relations with Venezuela, Mexico, and Colombia or the Group of Three; Lewis (1995) on a broad agenda of Caricom relations with Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Florida as well as the role of private sector and nongovernmental interests; and Byron (2000) on Cuba, CARIFORUM (the grouping of the wider Caribbean on EU issues), the EU, and the US. The later works are focused on the need for enhanced regionalism as a survival strategy in the post–Cold war era of economic liberalization, as well as the difficulties confronting Caribbean states as they negotiate new nonpreferential arrangements with North America and Europe. The new economic challenges are described by – among others – various contributors to Tirado de Alonso (1992) and Bryan (1995), works which deal with the new dynamics of trade.

Cuba is a special case of the dependency model. While dependency theorists focused on the negative consequences of dependence on the capitalist Western industrialized countries, a number of scholars (for example, Ray 1983) argued that the proponents of the thesis were being ideologically selective in not focusing as well on Cuba's dependency vis-à-vis the Soviet Union. Some scholars, however, saw Cuba's case differently. Duncan (1985), for example, maintained that Cuba and the Soviet Union had a convergence of interests and that Cuba manipulated the Soviets by combining acquiescence and resistance (summarized in Atkins 2001:123).

The issue of decision making autonomy is also relevant to any discussion of dependency because dependent states have been viewed as constrained in their choices by external powers and institutions (see the subsection on Decision Making, above). But the dependency thesis also focuses on the mutually reinforcing relationship between elites in the dependent state and those in the core. Caribbean scholars have, however, shown that elites in dependent states are quite capable of engaging in anti-core behavior. Biddle and Stephens's case study of Jamaica (1989) makes this point, as does the work of Henke (2000) who draws up a framework positing that the degree of state autonomy depends on the coincidence of interests between the local bourgeoisie and international capital. Plummer (1988), too, shows that at the beginning of the twentieth century Haitian elites were able to stave off intervention by playing the various great powers against each other, although they ultimately succumbed to US occupation (in 1915) amid growing political and economic instability as well as the wartime German threat.

By the 1990s dependency had faded as an explanation of small state behavior. The reality of both counterdependent behavior as well as dependent development led many scholars to conclude that dependence was not a powerful or a sufficient explanation of behavior. For small states, other factors such as the leadership's ideological orientation and regime preferences were factors that seemed as important as, if not more important than, mere dependence (see, for example, Hey 1994).

In political economy a focus on “vulnerability” and its counterpart “resilience” has replaced the emphasis on dependency. Vulnerability is measured in terms of economic dependence but also includes (at least) measures of environmental risk. The technical analysis of vulnerability and resilience is not about foreign policy, but works on the political economy of foreign policy have long highlighted, among other things, the external strategies needed to cope with economic weaknesses. Braveboy-Wagner (2003b) suggests in fact that the foreign policy of small states can be seen as intended to secure the resources needed to overcome or reduce the various vulnerabilities resulting from size. In a forthcoming volume (2009), contributors to Cooper and Shaw analyze new technologies, new services, and new diplomacies in assessing small-state resilience. The editors maintain that small states are not just conformists but also mavericks or rule benders of the international system.

The literature on decision making as well as on the management of foreign affairs has the potential to be enriched by studies of economic diplomacy, which is the main focus of most Caribbean states in the post–Cold War era. Barfield's (2005) analysis of the Eastern Caribbean's negotiations with the WTO on the banana dispute and Bartilow's (1997) work on debt negotiations fall into this genre.

Finally, studies of the effects of globalization – including the rise of new transnational issues – have important ramifications for foreign economic policy. Examples of works on the Caribbean include the contributions to Klak (1997) which deal with the consequences of neoliberalism and economic globalization; a short edited volume by Baker (2007) on the effects of globalization on the Commonwealth Caribbean; Watson (1996) who analyzes the impact of NAFTA in the context of the change to innovation-mediated production in global economics, and suggests that Caribbean countries develop new strategies to compete; and Serbín (1998), who reviews Caribbean prospects in the context of globalization and regionalization. Mention should also be made of Dupuy (1989; 1997), who critiques the neoliberal development model promoted by the United States and the international financial institutions as solutions to Haiti's problems.

In general, the foreign policy implications of political economy remain unclear: that is to say, a major task remains to develop frameworks that specifically relate political economy to foreign policy analysis, either through traditional methods or through the development of critical foreign policy analysis.

Overall, the Caribbean region, small as it is, offers some opportunities for scholarship that can enrich the field of FPA. For example, scholars of the region offer particular geopolitical and geo-economic perspectives that remain relevant even after the Cold War in terms both of the relationship with the United States as well of as the tightening bond between the region and its larger and more powerful Latin American neighbors. The Caribbean also presents fertile ground for the currently popular studies of democratization and governance, the latter being important even in those Caribbean countries which have established traditions of democracy. Moreover, governance issues at the regional level are of increasing importance worldwide as well as in the Caribbean, stemming from the vogue for the “new regionalism” which also demands heightened trade and foreign policy coordination by members of an integrated community. At the global level, governance issues are important to the foreign policies of these small states, whether in terms of the demand for change in the international economic institutions, or with respect to dealing with the demands and agendas of the United Nations, OAS, and other agencies.

In terms of the factors that impact decision making, in the Caribbean region postcolonial charismatic leadership has given way to pragmatic leadership but with personalistic flourishes. This odd combination offers rich conceptual ground, as yet unexplored, for political psychologists as well as those who want to pursue research into a rather unique type of pseudo-democratic decision making. Another interesting trend in the region is the inclusion of diaspora groups in studies of societal influences. Certainly, in this region of the world, the dynamics of difference between nationals inside and outside is of particular relevance.

There has been an increase in interest in the 2000s in the study of Caribbean foreign policy practice and management as governments seek to reorganize and strengthen foreign ministries to cope with the new security, political, and economic and social challenges. There are opportunities here for assessing whether various models of foreign policy can be usefully applied to the arena of praxis, in this case diplomatic studies.

At the same time, several gaps can be identified in Caribbean foreign policy research. Overall, despite the many works cited above, theoretical work has been subordinated over the years to descriptive and policy-prescriptive scholarship. This tendency has been aggravated since the end of the Cold War (see critiques in various volumes of the Library of Congress's Handbook of Latin American Studies [Social Sciences] ) as scholars turned to offering suggestions of coping strategies for policy makers. In addition to this problem, the preference by Caribbean scholars for international political economy continues to detract from a theoretical focus on foreign policy analysis, although there has been a return to some study of practical foreign policy management. As pointed out earlier, there is a very real nexus between IPE and FPA in the Caribbean, but this nexus has yet to be well articulated. Lastly, it bears reiterating that although Caribbean foreign policy researchers have dealt fairly well with class, race, and ethnicity, gender has not been given comparable attention in foreign policy analysis. In terms of other newer foci, promising research is being conducted into the role of civil society and nonstate actors in international relations and foreign policy, and the importance of constructivism as an approach is beginning to be reflected in promising research into the impact of identity and ideas on foreign policy.


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