Arms And Security In South America: Towards An Alternative View

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


International Studies


The United States and Latin America, in general, and South America, in particular, have experienced an extended period of deteriorating relationships due to a number of factors, not the least of which concerns arms and security. This study examines arms and security in South America within the framework of the South American perspective.Central to this study are the author's contentions that the United States has not come to an understanding of South American perceptions concerning arms and security and that the United States position of Leadership in the hemisphere has been eroded by its preoccupation with extra-hemispheric problems. In Chapter I, the political aspects of arms sales to Latin America are analyzed within a framework of U.S. attempts to formulate a coherent policy towards Latin (South) America. The result is that the major actors (the U.S. Executive Branch, the U.S. Congress, and the Latin American Governments) have not been able to agree on a policy.Chapter II narrows the focus to the nations of South America (except the Guianas) and the analysis is centered on arms possessed by individual nations, their utility in terms of numbers, military force levels, socio-economic factors, spending levels, and the terrain upon which the arms would be utilized. The analysis suggests that the forces of South America are highly defensive in posture, by design. The military forces of South America are seen to have a limited to non-existent ability to project military power beyond their national borders, which the author suggests will lessen the possibility of large scale conflict in the area.Chapter III is an analysis of the security perceptions of the nations of South America in terms of the perceived internal and external threats. The result is a view of South America which demonstrates there are a number of security perceptions which are of direct concern to the South American nations, and these have had an effect on their foreign and inter-regional relations. The relationship between arms and security perceptions is real and despite U.S. attempts to impose its view of threat to the area, the South American nations have rejected the U.S. efforts in favor of responding to individually perceived security threats.The fact that a majority of the governments of South America are directly controlled by the military has caused the U.S. to become more distant in its relations with these nations. Chapter IV is an analysis of the military as national leader. The analysis indicates that the situation is far more complex than current U.S. policies would suggest.In summary, the study is an attempt to expose the South American viewpoint concerning arms and security. The results indicate that the United States has yet to develop the sensitivity to understand the problems and perceptions of the South Americans. While the U.S. is to be castigated for its shortcomings, the South American nations are to be faulted for their own inability to transmit their needs and perceptions to the U.S. and other nations.


Political Science, International Law and Relations

Link to Full Text


Link to Full Text