Costa Rica and the Two Chinas: A Constructivist Foreign Policy Analysis
Journal of Alternative Perspectives in the Social Sciences, Vol. 1, No. 2, pp. 400-434, 2009
35 Pages Posted: 17 Apr 2009
Date Written: May 20, 2009
The foreign policy of Costa Rica has always been characterized by its emphasis on pacifism and human rights. As one of the few nation states lacking an army, it has carefully constructed an image of peace and democracy in a region historically plagued by political turmoil. This small Central American nation has taken advantage of the soft power created by taking a high moral ground on issues of international relations. The present paper undertakes a critical discursive analysis of the second Arias administration. By focusing on the presidency of the former Nobel Peace Prize winner, it is possible to analyze the press releases, speeches, and other government statements released during an exemplary period of Costa Rican diplomatic history. The transfer of recognition from Taipei to Beijing provides a brief glimpse at the neo-realist strategy being pursued by the Arias administration behind the veil of innocence provided by the co-optation of human rights, human security, pacifist, and cosmopolitan discourses. Moreover, the strategic importance of the government’s human rights rhetoric is revealed through a detailed analysis of the process leading up to and directly following the recognition of Beijing through the application of a constructivist model of norm socialization, the Parallel Cycles Model of Norm Socialization. The paper concludes with a discussion of the possible application of the two-pronged method of critical discourse analysis combined with a constructivist interpretation of norm socialization to the foreign policy of other Latin American countries and its possible contribution to an improved understanding of the internal dynamics of this region.
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