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This book provides a unique view on the Beagle Channel crisis (1977-1984) between Argentina and Chile by examining it in a global political context. The author explores the factors which led from imminent conflict to signing the Treaty of Peace and Friendship in just six years. Regional and international dimensions of the Beagle crisis are given particular attention, including international arbitration, the participation of the Vatican as a third actor, the role of the US, the complicating effects of the Falkland war, and the relations between each party and the UK. The author highlights unequal effects on Argentine and Chilean foreign policies of domestic structures and international conditions. The book seeks to determine the extent to which foreign policy provides opportunities for states to exercise political autonomy, given the powerful constraints imposed by the multiple structures of the international system, and how negotiation behaviour generated the path from conflict to cooperation between Argentina and Chile. The author’s focus on foreign policy aids the understanding of processes and decisions within Argentina and Chile during the Beagle crisis while utilising new theoretical approaches in the field of negotiation behaviour in Latin America.



Chapter 1. Introduction

This section explain the main argument of the book. that is that the domestic political and institutional framework represents an important part of what shapes international coercive bargaining outcomes.
Andrés Villar Gertner

Chapter 2. FPDM: Agents, Structures, and Status

This chapter examines the politics of foreign policies within the Foreign Policy Analysis (FPA) debate. It is concerned with various interpretations of what defines FPA, tracing different angles with which scholars envisioned the understanding of foreign policy processes and outcomes. Particular notions of FPDM are presented as the main theoretical tools required to explain the end of the Beagle crisis. It suggests that the easiest way of grasping what this book means by FPA is to examine the distinctions IR scholars have drawn between explanations emphasizing agency versus structure; domestic versus international factors; or the close analysis of decision making, perception, and status. The aim thus is to identify actor motivation during the crisis by adopting an actor-specific approach. In brief, a focus on agency means ascribing significance to process—the way decisions are made and executed.
Andrés Villar Gertner

Chapter 3. Argentine–Chilean Relations in a Historical Perspective

The goal of this chapter is to provide a general historical overview of the Beagle Channel crisis; it mainly covers the legal, political, and cultural interpretation of the treaties that framed the dispute between Argentina and Chile and to raise the question of whether, in combination, they had a significant role in the event during 1977–1984. Although the most dramatic and sudden effects of the crisis originated in the late 1970s and mid-1980s, many had been anticipated during the preceding decades. Moreover, differences in the interpretation of the legal framework were intensifying and political strategies were changing in both countries before the period under analysis. The chapter contends that through these related processes, the political and legal groundwork had an effect on the establishment of the countries’ respective strategies. For this reason, the first substantive section chronicles the conflict during the ninetieth century. The chapter’s second section surveys its political evolution and the legal strategies in each country prior to the crisis.
Andrés Villar Gertner

Chapter 4. Annus Horribilis: 1977–1978

Despite the early successes of the 1977 arbitration resolution, the conflict with Argentina was far from finished. In hindsight, it would appear that Chile had won a diplomatic victory. After decades of disputes, an international court finally ruled that the three islands were Chilean. So why did Chile face an adverse situation after 1977? What went wrong? Does the Argentinian internal dispute explain the increase of bilateral tension? What is certain is that this was only one part of the story.
The central argument of this chapter is that the Argentine domestic context conditioned its foreign policy whereas, in contrast, the international context conditioned Chilean foreign policy. In Chile, the strength and cohesion of the regime permitted the government to establish a high degree of institutionalization during the entire period of negotiation. In Argentina, where the regime had veto rules and was blocked by factional division, resolution was contradictory.
Andrés Villar Gertner

Chapter 5. Global Actors: Converging Conflicts

The purpose of this chapter is to analyze how international factors affected the implementation of Argentinian and Chilean foreign policy during the Beagle crisis. The evolution of the crisis in 1977–1984 was embedded in a global political context. In other words, it was never simply a bilateral dispute between Argentina and Chile as many scholars have tended to view it. From the international arbitration to the participation of third actors and the relationships between them, including the United States, the Vatican, the Malvinas/Falkland War, and the United Kingdom, the Beagle crisis also had a regional and international dimension. Domestic and international factors conditioned Argentinian and Chilean foreign policy to varying degrees. Depending on the domestic structural conditions of each country, FDMP varied according to the interaction between domestic and international constraints.
Andrés Villar Gertner

Chapter 6. Time for Mediation

Both countries were days away from a military confrontation when the Vatican intervened in order to mediate. Indeed, the agreement marked an important step toward the mediation of the Beagle problem, but the Vatican was successful only in keeping the parties at bay, not at pushing for a settlement; this is discussed in the first section of the chapter. It had been stated publicly by both states that Cardinal Samoré was the most important figure in this dispute. Without denying his diplomatic role and performance, new evidence shows that he was also a controversial figure for Argentina. In fact, official documents have been found that recommended the removal of Samoré from the mediation. Second, this chapter reveals how the decision-making process in Argentina became more fragmented. In contrast, it concludes by demonstrating Chilean coherence and the country’s strengths at the domestic level. Nevertheless, its pariah status still affected its relationship with the international community.
Andrés Villar Gertner

Chapter 7. The Final Act

This chapter explores the path to the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Argentina and Chile. It reveals the manner in which increasing contradictions in the Argentine handling of the crisis helped consolidate the Chilean team. The first section describes how the external agenda of Argentina turned out to be a real problem. The second section discusses how the South Atlantic war was a breaking point in the bilateral relations that catalyzed the path to cooperation. But this, however, did not guarantee a successful outcome. The war ended in June 1982 and the agreement was signed in October 1984. The chapter’s third section seeks to explain the effect of the transition on democracy in Argentina. After the Malvinas/Falklands War, the main goal of Alfonsín’s government was to guarantee a peaceful transition to democracy in Argentina. His plan was to reduce the power of the armed forces by diminishing their leverage on foreign policy decisions. Thus, a diplomatic resolution with Chile constituted a double triumph for Alfonsín’s government.
Andrés Villar Gertner

Chapter 8. Conclusions

This book shows that the most important factor during this period (1982–1984) was that the levels of political autonomy of both Chile and Argentina to implement their foreign policies were highly dissimilar. This means that their relationships with entrepreneurs, political forces, and their societies were completely different. Taking account of these facts, it is easier to understand the foreign decision-making processes in both countries during the last rounds of the various negotiations.
In a nutshell, the domestic goals in Argentina conditioned the international outcomes such as those for the Beagle dispute. In this sense, it is important to highlight that the predominance of domestic factors over international constraints followed a similar trend as that during the military regime. Internal political disputes and the reorganization of power were thus more influential than international events. The defeat in the Malvinas/Falklands War did not change Argentine armed forces’ policy toward Chile. It was the lack of leverage against internal democratic actors and political conditions that explains their acquisence to end the frontier dispute and that in turn partially explains the bilateral agreement. The decision to cooperate with Chile should be understood from the level of autonomy lost by the military, where civilian control over the armed forces paved the road to ending the bilateral dispute.
Andrés Villar Gertner


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