Observatoire politique de l’Amérique latine et des Caraïbes de Sciences Po

Amérique latine - L’Année politique is a publication by CERI-Sciences Po’s Political Observatory of Latin America and the Caribbean (OPALC). The study extends the work presented on the Observatory’s website (www.sciencespo.fr/opalc) by offering tools for understanding a continent that is in the grip of deep transformations.

François Vergniolle de Chantal

The US Congres is the most powerful legislative in the world. Its independence and its powers make it impossible for the presidency to be truly imperial. The Senate is especially influential since it allows its members to use a series of minority procedures, such as the filibuster, that exert a constant a priori pressure on the Executive. This institutional configuration is made extremely costly by the current partisan polarization. It is also, however, a functional equivalent to the theoretical parliamentary right of life and death on Executive powers.

During the Cold War the US-Pakistan relationship was one in which the US considered Pakistan as a necessary part of its effort to contain communism in Asia while Pakistan considered its relationship with the US as strengthening its position vis a vis India. The high point in this relationship was during the Soviet-Afghan war. The US tried to renew this relationship after 9/11, although when Obama replaced GW Bush he stated his intention to move US-Pakistani relations off the security agenda which the Pentagone and the Pakistani army considered a priority. However, Obama rain into resistance from the Pakistani army and from the national security establishment in Washington- as can be seen from the security-oriented distribution of US aid. But not even in the area of security have the two nations been able truly to collaborate. To begin with, the strengthening of US-India relations angered Pakistan. Then Islamabad protected the Taliban in its fight with NATO. Finally, Obama violated Pakistani sovereignty (the Drone strikes in the tribal belt and the Ben Laden raid). These conflicting interest, however, do not necessary means the end of the relationship.

Anthony Amicelle

The present paper examines current dynamics of surveillance regarding the fight against “terrorism” and its financing. Close analysis of the so-called “SWIFT Affair” and the US terrorist finance tracking program draw attention to one specific case-study which allows us to question the contemporary politics of massively accessing commercial data-banks for intelligence purposes. With reference to the SWIFT affair, the paper explores a sensitive aspect of transatlantic cooperation in the field of counter-terrorism

Ingrid Therwath

« Long-distance nationalism », an expression coined by Benedict Anderson, is often used in reference to transnational political activities. But the dynamics of this expatriate nationalism tend to be neglected. Mere nostalgia or even spontaneous mobilisations are evoked to explain this phenomenon. They, however, fail to explain the mechanism that lies behind « long-distance nationalism ». This paper wishes to highlight, through the example of the Hindu nationalist movements, the implication of political entrepreneurs in the country of origin and the instrumental dimension of « long-distance nationalism ». The Sangh Parivar, a network of nationalist Hindu organisations, was indeed replicated among the Hindu diaspora and its structure was litterally exported by a centralised body located in India itself. Of course, the spread of the Sangh Parivar and of its Hindutva ideology abroad was greatly facilitated by local policies like multiculturalism and by the rise of racism in the countries of emigration. A comparison of Hindu nationalist outlets in the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Canada brings to light the two main factors in instilling « long-distance nationalism » : a favorable local context for ethnic mobilisation among migrants on the one hand, and a centralised organisation in the country of origin on the other hand. Eventually, the engineering of long-distance Hindu nationalism from India questions the changing nature of nationalism in a globalised world.

What kind of future worlds do experts of international security envision? This paper studies the role of experts in DC's think tanks, a relatively small world socially and culturally highly homogeneous. It underlines the characteristics of this epistemic community that influence the way its analysts make claims about the future for security. The DC's marketplace of the future lacks diversity. The paradigms analysts use when they study international politics are very similar. Moreover, the range of issues they focus on is also relatively narrow.
The paper highlights three main features of the relation between those who make claims about the future of security and those to whom these claims are addressed (mainly policymakers). First, it shows that, for epistemic but also for political reasons, the future imagined in think tanks is relatively stable and linear. This future also contributes to the continuity of political decisions. Second, the paper shows that think tanks are also "victims of groupthink", especially when they make claims about the future. Third, it underlines a paradox: scenarios and predictions create surprises. Claims about the future have a strong tunneling effect. They reinforce preexisting beliefs, create focal points, and operate as blinders when, inevitably, the future breaks away from its linear path.

Anne Daguerre

The social policy of the US welfare state is based on a liberal model of social protection. The social contract is based on the idea that individuals of working age individuals should support themselves and their dependants thanks to their earned income. However, to have a job is no longer sufficient in protecting individuals against main social risks. President Obama has been elected on the promise that he will restore the American dream, whereby individual work is rewarded by upward social mobility. However, the Obama administration faces the challenge of rising social inequality and poverty, in an extremely difficult economic context. The Great Recession has laid bare the gaps of the safety net: a growing proportion of families must choose between paying for food or rent. To understand the inadequacies of the US social protection system, it is necessary to study the structure of public assistance programmes, as well as labour market trends and the impact of the recession on low-income households. This analysis will shed light on the main characteristics of the Obama administration’s response to the economic crisis.

Antoine Vion, François-Xavier Dudouet, Eric Grémont

The study proposes analyzing the complex links between the standardization and regulation of mobile phone markets from a political economy perspective. Moreover, this study examines these links by taking into consideration, from a Schumpeterian perspective, the market disequilibrium and the monopolistic phenomena associated with innovation. It aims firstly to underline, with respect to different network generations (0G to 4G), the particularity of this industry in terms of investment return, and the key role that network standardization plays in the structuring of the market. This key variable of the standard explains in large part the income that GSM represented in the industrial and financial dynamics of the sector. The study thus explores the relations between the normalization policies, which are certainly neither the sole issue of public actors nor are they simple industrial property regulations, and the regulation policies of the sector (allocation of licenses, trade regulations, etc.). It underlines that the last twenty-five years have made the configurations of expertise more and more complex, and have increased the interdependency between network entrepreneurs, normalizers, and regulators. From a perspective close to Fligstein’s, which emphasizes the different institutional dimensions of market structuring (trade policies, industrial property regulations, wage relations, financial institutions), this study focuses on the interdependent relations between diverse, heavily institutionalized spheres of activity.

François Vergniolle de Chantal

The Republican Party’s identity as fashioned since 1964 is poles apart from the moderate conservatism that had characterised the party until then. The party ideology has become populist, religious and nationalistic. It results from Barry M. Goldwater and later Richard Nixon’s "southern" electoral strategy. The party cashed in on the discontent sown among the southern population by racial integration, and has consequently made the former Confederate States its stronghold. This shift has been so large in scope that it constitutes the main feature of US politics in the past four decades. Political initiative has since then been primarily rightwing, weakening the Democrats. When the GOP won a majority in the South, the Democratic coalition suffered a trauma it has yet to recover from. The nationalist reaction to the 9/11 attacks gave the Republicans a supplementary political base. Nevertheless, this comeback does not have sufficiently stable elements allowing for a lasting Republican coalition. The Republicans’ strength resides in the fervour that surrounds them, as well as, as we will argue, in the Democrats’ inability to define a tactic to face the Republican challenge. Yet, the balance of (electoral) power does not tip to the Republicans. Although demographical and geographical factors favour the right, social evolutions tend to favour the Democrats. The latter may lack strategy, but they do not lack resource. The situation is exactly the opposite for the Republicans.

Yves Tiberghien

Since the mid-1990s, a global political battle has developed around one of the most promising industries of the future: biotechnology. While transgenic technology showed great promise and became widely adopted in North America, it also became the target of a global resistance movement including non-governmental organizations (NGOs), key states, and international organizations. The emerging consensus among OECD countries embedded in the 1994 WTO agreement quickly collapsed after 1999, as the EU, Japan, Korea, and other countries led a counter-movement. The battle entails several dimensions—modern technology and human progress, global trade, environmental protection, health, food security, development, democratic deficit, and cultural identity—making it one of the fault lines in globalization. State policy with respect to genetically modified organisms (GMOs) includes both national regulations and support for global standards in international negotiations such as the 2000 Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. This study analyzes the stakes in the battle for global governance, the key actors, and the principal battlefields. It then focuses on the roles of two key players, the EU and Japan, and how they led the move toward a more precautionary approach. The study reveals the political mechanisms behind this transformation, emphasizing the role of emerging civil society movements as the determining trigger for policy change.

Frédéric Massé

The conflict in Colombia has, in the space of a few years, become a real headache for the United States as well as for Europe. Countless human rights violations, forced population displacement, drug trafficking and terrorism make Colombia a textbook case for examining the entire range of security problems today. With the launching of Plan Colombia in 1999, the United States considerably increased its aid to the country. Today, the American administration actively supports Alvaro Uribe’s government in its fight against guerilla movements, labeled “narcoterrorists,” and rumors of armed intervention regularly resurface. Having long remained on the sidelines of the “Colombian tragedy,” Europe seems to be relegated to playing second fiddle. The military option represented by Plan Colombia had opened up a political spaced that the Europeans began to occupy. But with the break-off of peace negotiations, this space has shrunk and has maybe even disappeared for good. In the face of American efforts to monopolize management of the Colombian conflict, it is in fact hard to see how the European Union can return to the forefront in this area of the world that remains the United States’ preserve. All the more so since virtually no voices can be heard asking the Europeans to counterbalance the United States. The situation in Colombia is a new illustration of the state of U.S.-European relations today, between competition, a search for complementarity and a mutual lack of understanding.

Emmanuelle Le Texier

Since the early nineteen-eighties, the new political visibility of Latinos has been referred to as the awakening of a “sleeping giant.” Their increased political expression, be it in the form of protest action during civil rights movements or electoral participation, marks a turning point in the integration of Hispanics in the American public sphere. With a growing number of voters, candidates and elected officials, Latinos have emerged on the political scene. The increasingly influential role of pan-ethnic interest groups and new opportunities for political participation created by the development of transnational networks have contributed to the elaboration of this new participative framework. Yet their electoral and political influence remains below the demographic, economic, social and cultural importance of these some 35 million individuals who make up over 12 percent of the U.S. population. Most of the minority groups still encounter major obstacles to political access. These are partly structural, but also internal to the group: not only is it divided over domestic or foreign issues, it is fragmented by national origin, status and generation. The singular nature of immigration from Latin America, the continuity of migratory flows and their diversity, all constantly rekindle divergences over what strategy Latinos should adopt for participating in the public debate. They also highlight the fictional, both functional and dysfunction, nature of ethnic categorization in the United States. The ethnic card may be an instrument of participation, but it can also prove to seriously fetter minorities’ entry into politics.

David P. Calleo

What are the challenges facing the European Union with the end of the Cold War ? Will the Union be able to meet them ? What links should it maintain with the United States ? What type of relations should be established with Russia ? 
The stakes are high: nothing less than international stability and world harmony in the next century. The challenges are of various kinds encompassing political, security, economic and institutional issues. In the first part of this study, the author analyses these challenges and argues for a European approach rid of the more unrealistic federalist ideas. In a second section he examines those states that will play major roles in Europe's future: Germany and France, within the EU, and, outside it, Russia and the United States. In doing so he attempts to evaluate Europe's ability to rise to the occasion.

Zaki Laïdi

The widely held perception of a growing gap between the US significant political resources (enhanced even further by the collapse of the Soviet Union) and its economic weakening brings up the question of the nature of American power. Did it or did it not change, particularly since 1985, from a hegemonic power, that is a power able to make economic and financial sacrifices in favor of privileged allies, to a predator one, that is an actor maximizing its political resources to have others partially pay for its economic decline? Examining that question essentially from an economic perspective, looking closely at the relations between the US and the newly industrialized countries in Asia and Latin America, Zaki Laïdi concludes that the US, in spite of a much stronger willingness to utilize its power, cannot be defined as a "predator".

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