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Brazilian Political Science Review

On-line version ISSN 1981-3821

Bras. Political Sci. Rev. vol.11 no.3 São Paulo  2017  Epub Dec 11, 2017

http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/1981-3821201700030005 

RESEARCH NOTE

Regions and the Globe: A Spatial-Temporal Framework for Foreign Policy Analysis*

Haroldo Ramanzini Júnior1 

Vinicius Rodrigues Vieira2 

1Universidade Federal de Uberlândia, Brazil

2Princeton University, USA

ABSTRACT

Does the regional environment shape a state's international socialization and, thus, its perception on external affairs? If this is the case, how does such a process happen and what are the consequences for a state's global foreign policy? We tackle both questions by elaborating an analytical framework that accounts for spatial-temporal interactions in foreign policy. We accomplish such a task by reporting the preliminary findings of a comparison of Brazil's and India's views on the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Through the method of difference, we conclude that those emerging powers' approaches to the NPT derive from the regional dynamic of power in which they are embedded. Brazil solved sensitive security issues in South America with its main regional rival, Argentina, institutionalizing regional relationships in the 1990s, whereas India continued to face enduring tensions in South Asia with its neighbors, particularly Pakistan. Brazilian policymakers thus perceived the post-Cold War international society through more benign lenses than their Indian counterparts, having signed the NPT in 1998. In that same year, India became a nuclear power. Other issue-areas — namely the environment, human rights, and trade — shall be analyzed in the future using the same framework.

Key words: Foreign policy; regionalism; Brazil; India; emerging powers

The literature on regionalism and regionalization has already explored the impact of global factors upon patterns of regional integration and socialization among states. The post-Cold War world is made up of regions, as different traditions in International Relations contend (e.g.: BUZAN and WEAVER, 2003; HURRELL, 2007a; KATZENSTEIN, 2005; SOLINGEN, 1998). While the scholarship on regionalism has already clarified the linkages between state-led integration and their spillover effects upon domestic interests, thus providing further support for deepening regional ties, debates have failed to address whether and how the regional environment shapes the interests of domestic actors in global regimes. This question has been ignored even by recent works on comparative regionalism (e.g.: BORZEL and RISSE, 2016; SOLINGEN, 2015) or comparisons between regional powers (e.g., NOLTE, 2010), notwithstanding growing concerns about a potential fragmentation of the international society and world economy into separate blocs, as the ongoing wave of nationalism that threatens the Western-led liberal order suggests.

Thus, considering such gaps, one may ask whether a state changes its foreign policy within specific issue-areas once its patterns of socialization at the regional level shift. In this research note, we outline such a research agenda and framework, and present the first findings of a project that aims to compare how two democratic emerging powers — Brazil and India — changed their global priorities in key areas of their foreign policy as they engaged with their respective regions. We do assume that countries embedded in different regional environments are comparable as long as their relations with their main regional competitors were relatively similar. Brazil's and India's respective approaches toward their neighborhoods reflect regionalism properly said — with actual institutionalization, as it is the case in South America — and regionalization — which takes place through weaker ties, such as bilateral and/or flexible agreements. Yet, they competed with Argentina and Pakistan respectively, up to the point that the use of the nuclear card was an option, even though on a different scale.

However, the Brazilian experience in South America suggests that a shift from negative to positive securitization in nuclear proliferation at the regional level triggers changes in the patterns of socialization within the same issues at the global level. Brazil joined the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1998 after having consolidated regional institutions to stop the nuclear race with Argentina, its main regional rival. In turn, in South Asia, India became a Nuclear Weapon State (NWS) outside the NPT framework, having not reached a settlement with its enduring rival in South Asia, Pakistan, which also owns the bomb. Brazil's and India's patterns of regional socialization and, consequently, their respective views on the NPR between 1970 and 2000 make an appropriate pair for the purposes of constructing the framework through the method of difference (MILL, 2011).

A core caveat of our project is that it has no intention to debate why Brazil and Argentina reached a settlement on nuclear issues, whereas India and Pakistan did not (see DAVIES, 2004, for a comparative study). Nor do we debate the causes behind the lack of strong regional integration in South Asia and more institutionalization in South America. We take these factors for granted and employ them as explanatory variables to demonstrate the empirical application of the framework through a process-tracing approach that, following George and Bennett (2005) and Waldner (2015), focuses on the macro-level for the purposes of theory-building rather than theory-testing (BEACH and PEDERSEN, 2013). States — not bureaucrats or societal actors — are our unit of analysis. As we advance in our research, however, we hope to explore the micro-level of analysis, opening the state black box and its interactions with society on nuclear policy in Brazil and India.

This note is organized as follows. First, we outline the theoretical assumptions guiding our work and then elaborate a framework to account for regional-global interactions throughout time as countries craft foreign policy for different issue-areas. In the second section, we apply the argument to the evolution of Brazilian and Indian positions in relation to the NPT. The conclusion indicates other issue-areas to which such a framework will be applied as we advance this research agenda.

Regionalism: ontological and epistemological challenges

As Katzenstein (2005) suggests, regionalism can be either 'formal and political' or 'informal and economic'. According to Acharya (2013), regionalism also presupposes the "diffusion of norms, policies and practices of regional organizations and associations, formal and informal" (ACHARYA, 2013, p, p. 26). Regions and their internal dynamics of power are therefore crucial for understanding world politics (HURRELL, 2007a) and, consequently, are expected to influence significantly a state's foreign policy.

Nevertheless, the literature on regions and regionalism does not discuss whether there are spillover effects on external affairs beyond a state's neighborhood. In explaining regional integration through a series of rational decisions, the liberal intergovernmentalist literature (e.g., MORAVCSIK, 1998) misses the fact that regimes and organizations change not only the interests of states, but open the door to unintended consequences that are beyond the control of rational actors. Similar limitations arise from the neo-functionalist literature. According to Haas (1964), after an initial bureaucratic impulse, the integration process would spill over to the domestic society as a whole. Domestic actors, in turn, would then pursue strategies to intervene in the process. Yet, the consequences of such interactions for a state's global strategies outside the domain of regional institutions remain unclear.

There is enough evidence to hypothesize that foreign policy towards multilateral regimes takes into account regional processes — even if decision makers act as such without being completely aware of the effects of their country's neighborhood in defining what national interest means. Constructivist works based on qualitative methods have already demonstrated that states re-elaborate at the regional level norms diffused from traditional poles of power in the Global North (ACHARYA, 2011; DEMBINSKI and SCHOTT, 2014). Hence, it is plausible to consider that states change their international identities (WENDT, 1999) based on processes of socialization at the regional level, reframing their perceptions and interests for the global stage. As Rodrigues Vieira (2015) has suggested, based upon the cases of Brazil and India in the multilateral trading system, their respective international identities as leaders of the developing world in the 1970s and early 1980s framed their interests in the negotiations of the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT). The same happened when both became emerging powers in the 2000s and managed to subvert Western domination in negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO) (VIEIRA 2015, 20, 2016).

What remains to be unfolded is if the regional dynamics of power — whether or not mediated by regional institutions — shapes a state's socialization at the international level and, hence, its foreign policy regarding global regimes. To address this gap we build a framework to compare regions regardless of their level of institutionalization and their interplay with the international level as a whole. With this strategy, we aim to fill not only the gaps left by rationalist arguments, but also the biases of the constructivist literature that generates theories based on just one region, as it is the case of works focused on Europe (e.g., MANNERS, 2002) and South-East Asia (e.g., ACHARYA, 2013)[2]. We then go beyond exploring the domestic-international divide, as second-image approaches (MORASVICK, 1997) usually do. Nor does it suffice, in Hurrell's (2007a) words, to analyze "…the place of regional states-systems or regional international societies within our understanding of contemporary international society as a whole" (HURRELL, 2007a, p. 128).

Rather, we argue that the relationship between a state and the international level should be placed in a space-time continuum. With this, the potential effects of socialization at the regional level upon a country's global foreign policy become evident. As we summarize in the picture below, a given country develops a strategy in two distinct issue-areas. Assuming that the region (to reiterate, institutionalized or not) is closer to the state not only in spatial/geographical terms, but also in the priorities of interaction and policymaking, one can then expect that later interactions outside the regional space will be framed by the previous experiences. Whatever happens at the regional level tends to exert conditional effects on the views of policymakers when designing strategies to interact with the regimes in the same issue-area at the global level. Such legacies are embedded in what Whitehead (2006, p. 100) defines as the state's cognitive capacity. Starting from that assumption, we can focus on the macro-level without detailing at this stage of the research the micro-mechanisms that make regions to frame foreign policymaking at the global level.

Figure 01 Regional and global levels and foreign policy 

The regional-global linkage can be unfolded through the identification of relevant facts (PIERSON, 2004, p. 07) that potentially condition a state's views on an issue-area (in this case, nuclear proliferation). As mentioned in the introduction, at this stage of our research we refrain from analyzing socialization at the micro-level. This is the case because we consider the state as our unit of analysis. Identifying such facts, however, does not suffice to assure that changes at the regional level frame a state's approaches to the global. We then consider two competing hypotheses to explain shifts in states' behavior at the global level. The first alternative explanation stems from domestic factors, namely the emergence of internationalist coalitions more prone to cooperate with other states (e.g., SOLINGEN, 1998). The second alternative explanation comprises eventual pressure from established nuclear powers, which may prompt a 'realist' effect on potential proliferators that, fearing potential sanctions, refrain from acquiring weapons.

Preliminary findings: Brazil and India in the NPR

In applying the framework outlined above, we find that Brazilian and Indian positions concerning the NPT directly stem from the regional dynamics of power in which each of them is embedded. At the onset of the 1970s, both countries faced a similar position in the international society as semi-peripheral states, as well as analogous — but not identical — regional environments, according to the terms explained in the introduction. While one may argue that South Asia still had to cope with a much more recent colonial past than South America — including wars of independence and undefined borders —, the high level of mistrust between each country under analysis and their main regional rival suffices for the application of the method of difference to a Brazil-India comparison on this issue-area. Moreover, both transitioned in early 1990s from inward-looking development strategies to economic liberalization with unquestionable — yet not undisputable — regional influence.

Those two countries have since then followed divergent paths in the global arena along with different approaches in dealing with their neighbors, notwithstanding their status as regional (DESTRADI, 2010; NOLTE, 2010) and emerging powers (NARLIKAR, 2010). Brazil solved sensitive security issues with its main regional rival, Argentina, institutionalizing regional relationships in the 1990s, whereas India continued to face a 'Hobbesian' environment (WENDT, 1999) due to enduring tensions with its neighbors, particularly Pakistan. Brazilian policymakers thus perceived the post-Cold War international society through 'Kantian' lenses, having signed the NPT in 1998 as a non-nuclear weapon state (NNWS). In the same year, India conducted the Pokhran-II tests, remaining — along with Pakistan and Israel — one of the three NWS which have never signed the NPT.

In contrast to India, Brazil developed deeper integration within its region, having established regional organizations encompassing several issue-areas. However, this has not always been the case. The country's asymmetric status vis-à-vis the other nations in South America — as it is the case of India in South Asia — generated a distrust cascade that could only be mitigated by efforts to build cooperation. From independence to late 1970s, mutual distrust prevailed among Brazil, Argentina and other countries in the River Plate Basin (KASSENOVA, 2014, p, p. 03). Yet, the 1980s mark a turning point in the bilateral relations with Argentina, leading Brazil to reassess its strategies regarding non-proliferation, culminating with the formal resignation to any nuclear military pretensions in the 1990s (OELSNER, 2005). The rivalry between the two countries in previous decades had been one of the factors that fueled the development of nuclear programs. With the end of military rule in Brazil (1985) and Argentina (1983), there was political space on both sides to advance the understandings initiated in 1979. Between 1985 and 1988, Brazil and Argentina signed six bilateral nuclear agreements aiming to strengthen confidence-building measures and to establish political and technical cooperation pathways between the two countries.

Such agreements paved the way for the Declaration on Common Nuclear Policy, signed in November 1990, and the Brazil-Argentina Agreement for the Exclusive Peaceful Use of Nuclear Energy, signed in June 1991 (Guadalajara Agreement). Through the Guadalajara agreement, Brazil and Argentina created the Brazilian-Argentine Agency for Accounting and Control (ABACC). The ABACC imposed inspections and a full system of safeguards on every nuclear activity in both countries (KASSENOVA, 2014, p. 64). In 1998, Brazil signed the NPT. The signing of the NPT was in line with the Brazilian foreign policy principle of autonomy through participation, which implied engaging in confidence-building with the Western core of international society (LIMA and HIRST, 2006).

Yet, Brazilian accession to the NPT would not have been possible without changes in the patterns of regional securitization that had begun almost 20 years before. That is the case as Brazil signed the treaty four years after Argentina did so. Should Brazil have not changed its patterns of socialization on nuclear issues through the aforementioned interactions at the regional level, Brasília would probably have cheated on Buenos Aires by remaining uncommitted to non-proliferation at the global level. Pressures from the North — particularly the US — had been stronger before, in the 1970s, but did not suffice to reverse the proliferation trends in the Southern Cone and, hence, Brazilian (and Argentinean) views on the NPT.

By contrast, India faced stronger nuclear threats in its neighborhood. The acquisition of nuclear weapons by the People's Republic of China (PRC) in 1964 prompted India's decision to develop military capabilities of the same kind (MAASS, 1996, p, p. 45). Yet, the longstanding rivalry with Pakistan (PAUL, 2005) is the core constraint to any change in India's patterns of international socialization on nuclear issues. Such a view, however, is far from being consensual. Some analysts claim that PRC's nuclear capability is the main reason why India did not join the NPR in the 1990s. Yet, this argument does not hold in the light of junctures in the previous two decades. Once the PRC consolidated its status as a 'de facto' nuclear power throughout the 1970s, beginning with its permanent membership in the UN Security Council in 1971 and ending with the U.S. recognition in 1979, Pakistan became the focus of India's nuclear deterrence. In fact, Solingen (1998) considers East Asia separately from South Asia for the purposes of analyzing nuclear proliferation within regions: the Indo-Pakistani rivalry lies at the center of security concerns in South Asia (DREYER, 2014, p, p. 508).

In contrast to the growing convergence between Brazil and Argentina in the Southern Cone, South Asia entered the 1980s facing an increasing distance between India and Pakistan. The creation of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in 1985 never resulted in more peaceful relations between India and Pakistan nor did it enhance regional trade (DASH, 2008), contrasting with Brazil-Argentina bilateral agreements of economic cooperation launched in 1986 which eventually resulted in the creation of the Common Market of the South (MERCOSUR). In fact, all efforts in bringing together India and Pakistan towards a regional settlement were unsuccessful. In 1992, the first year after the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia joined the West in pressuring India to resign to its nuclear program (VOLODIN, 1996, p. 33). Also, in the same year, the PRC joined the NPT as a NWS. To further complicate the regional security scenario for policymakers in Delhi, Pakistan officially declared, for the very first time, that it had sufficient elements to build a nuclear military device (DASH, 2008, p. 136), but that the country would nevertheless halt the enrichment of uranium. Moreover, at the domestic level, the 1991 balance of payment crisis led the country to adopt liberalizing economic reforms (DASH, 2008, p. 156).

Thus, the global dynamics had sufficient elements to encourage India to take the 'Brazilian path' and compromise at the regional level or even at the global one as a means of gaining confidence from the core of the international society. Yet, India kept its nuclear program and conducted the Pokhran-II tests in the same year that Brazil joined the NPT. Since then, it has remained — along with Pakistan and Israel — one of the three NWS that have never signed the NPT. Nevertheless, India is far from being a pariah state, having been recognized as a 'de facto' nuclear power since the country signed with the United States a Civil Nuclear Agreement in 2008, followed by a safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to subject civil facilities to multilateral inspection, thus having the credentials for reclaiming the status of a responsible nuclear power — at least in rhetorical terms (SULLIVAN, 2014).

Conclusion

The findings strongly suggest that, rather than persuading countries to join global regimes, changes in socialization at the regional level may be more effective in prompting states to accept mainstream norms of the international society. Our findings also indicate that regionalism cannot be conceived as a foreign policy project only because of states' preferences. Nor are regions just an environment for interstate bargaining. Regionalism is also a frame for state action at the global level. Such conclusions open new avenues of research to enhance the framework we have developed. We identify three other issue-areas in foreign policy to which this framework could be applied: the environment, human rights, and trade — each representing spheres of action at the global level (HURRELL, 2007b). In closing, we also indicate that further study of the regional-global linkages in foreign policymaking may have to open the state's black box, assessing how international socialization affects the behavior of domestic actors in relation to a state's foreign policy towards global regimes. The cases analyzed here suggest that regional powers that are also emerging powers may have their pathways for empowerment at the global stage (DESTRADI, 2010) shaped by the legacies that distinct patterns of socialization in the neighborhood imply. Should such a hypothesis ever be corroborated, regions would therefore be considered not only a frame for foreign policymaking throughout time, but also a factor in shaping the configuration of the global order itself.

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1 As Pempel (JETSCHKE et al., 2015) writes about Acharya's work, "while his insights on Southeast Asia are undeniable, it is not clear how readily some of his insights from that part of the world can travel to other regional contexts" (JETSCHKE et al., 2015, p. 540).

The authors would like to thank CAPES, CNPQ and FAPESP (scholarships Nº 2014/26455-7 and 2016/07997-9) for having supported this research.

Received: March 02, 2017; Accepted: July 02, 2017

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