The Obama Administration and the Americas: Agenda for Change

Brookings Institution Press
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The Obama administration inherits a daunting set of domestic and international policy challenges. It would be tempting to put Latin America and the Caribbean on the back burner, for their nations pose no imminent security threat nor do they seem at first blush critical to the most pressing problems of U.S. foreign policy. The Obama Administration and the Americas, however, argues that the new administration should focus early and strategically on Latin America.

Our neighbors to the south impact daily on the lives of U.S. citizens, on issues such as energy, narcotics, immigration, trade, and jobs. And these are the countries most likely to partner with Washington on the basis of shared values, culture, and interests. Recognized experts from Latin America, the United States, and Europe suggest in this timely volume that the United States should seize an early opportunity to engage Latin America, recognizing the region's diversity but also its shared concerns and aspirations.

The consolidation of stable democracies and rule of law in Latin America has long been an expressed goal of both parties in Washington, but the backlash from Iraq, the global financial crisis, and other recent experiences may discourage the use of U.S. influence and assistance to nurture democratic governance. The authors emphasize case-by-case, sophisticated, and multilateral approaches to dealing with such hard cases as Bolivia, Colombia, Cuba, Haiti, Mexico, and Venezuela.

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About the author

Abraham F. Lowenthal is a professor of international relations at the University of Southern California and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Theodore J. Piccone is a senior fellow and deputy director for Foreign Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution and an adviser to the Club of Madrid.

Laurence Whitehead is an official fellow in politics at Nuffield College at the University of Oxford and editor of the Oxford Studies in Democratisation series.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Brookings Institution Press
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Published on
Sep 1, 2009
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Pages
235
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ISBN
9780815703525
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Language
English
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Genres
Political Science / International Relations / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Abraham F. Lowenthal
Scholars, Policymakers, and International Affairs shows how to build mutually beneficial connections between the worlds of ideas and action, analysis and policy. Drawing on contributions from top international scholars with policy experience in the United States, Europe, Asia, Canada, and Latin America, as well as senior policymakers throughout the Americas, Abraham F. Lowenthal and Mariano E. Bertucci make the case that scholars can both strengthen their research and contribute to improved policies while protecting academia from the risks of active participation in the policy process.

Many scholars believe that policymakers are more interested in processes and outcomes than in understanding causality. Many policymakers believe that scholars are absorbed in abstract and self-referential debates and that they are primarily interested in crafting theories (and impressing other scholars) rather than developing solutions to pressing policy issues.

The contributors to this book confront this gap head-on. They do not deny the obstacles to fruitful interaction between scholars and policymakers, but, drawing on their own experience, discuss how these obstacles can be and have been overcome. They present case studies that illustrate how scholars have helped reduce income inequality, promote democratic governance, improve gender equity, target international financial sanctions, manage the Mexico–U.S. border, and enhance inter-American cooperation. These success stories are balanced by studies on why academic analysts have failed to achieve much positive impact on counternarcotics and citizen security policies. The editors’ astute conclusion identifies best practices and provides concrete recommendations to government agencies, international institutions, nongovernmental organizations, and funding sources, as well as to senior university officials, academic departments and centers, think tanks, established scholars, junior faculty, and graduate students.

Clearly written and thoughtfully organized, this innovative book provides analytic insights and practical wisdom for those who want to understand how to build more effective connections between the worlds of thought and action.

-- General Brent Scowcroft, Former U.S. National Security Advisor
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