The Argentina-Brazil Regional Power Transition
Foreign Policy Analysis (2017)
Posted: 30 Nov 2017
Date Written: 2017
Almost four decades have passed since the Argentina-Brazil balance of power gave way to a Brazilian uncontested primacy in the Southern Cone. The peaceful and cooperative nature of this regional power transition poses an interesting puzzle for structural theories and those concerned with the US-China transition. Why do certain countries accept accommodation more leniently, like Argentina did? I offer an explanatory model and use process tracing to show that key cooperative turns in this bilateral relationship—during the late 1970s and early 1990s—required concurrent structural changes, both at the international and domestic levels. My conclusions suggest, against the prevalent narrative, that cooperation between Argentina and Brazil was not a product of democracy. Instead, peaceful power transitions take place when the costs of confrontation are high and social coalitions are largely redefined in the declining state.
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