United States-Mexican relations: Between conflict and cooperation

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

First Committee Member

Bruce M. Bagley - Committee Chair


The purpose of this dissertation is to explore the causes of conflict and cooperation between Mexico and the United States. The dissertation uses the case-study approach methodology. Three case studies are presented: NAFTA, drug trafficking, and immigration. NAFTA represents a singular scheme of cooperation between Mexico and the United States, the drug trafficking issue best exemplifies a simultaneous pattern of conflict and cooperation, and immigration is a rather permanent conflictual issue area. The research employs a methodological model to study the bilateral relationship.The dissertation finds four key reasons why the U.S.-Mexican relationship has been conflictual. (1) Mexico and the United States are two states marked by different cultural, historical, social, political and economic patterns. (2) In the past, the United States has used military force to achieve its diplomatic goals toward Mexico. (3) The issues that are involved in the bilateral agenda and the actors that take part in their foreign policy decision-making process are varied and numerous. (4) Both governments often have different perceptions and opposing viewpoints on particular issue-areas that have led to the use of distinct theoretical approaches.The principal reasons that explain cooperation between Mexico and the United States are: (1) The increased interdependence between Mexico and the United States and the growing globalization of the world economy have influenced both nations to seek cooperation. (2) When a coincident change of domestic and international factors occurs, Mexico and the United States search for cooperation to deal with the transformations. (3) When the two countries' bargaining power seems to be evened out, both countries tend to cooperate. (4) When both governments use a similar theoretical approach to address problems, then there is a possibility for mutual cooperation. (5) When both nations have similar perceptions toward the same issue-area, they set alike objectives, and their national interest coincide, then it is likely that they will seek schemes of cooperation.


Political Science, International Law and Relations

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