Reforming the Military and Defense in Latin America: Why is Progress so Slow?
Latin American countries have struggled to reform their militaries and defense under civilian authority. At the same time, there are variations in the progress made between countries. This lecture will examine historical, structural and rational reasons for why this is so. Historically, Latin American countries have seldom faced existential threats of the kind that would compel them to invest resources to create formidable defense forces. Accordingly, civilians have not had much interest in the topic. Structurally, Latin America is practically a zone of peace, where inter-state conflicts are rare, as are security dilemmas. When wars are fought they are settled quickly and diplomatically. Rationally, politicians do not have electoral incentives to care about defense. And yet, some countries have made more progress than others. I will trace these variations to differences in political ideology, authoritarian legacies, electoral mandates and military resistance.