Books in the news…

As the year comes to a close, a bit of news on my 2022 books.

A Small State’s Guide

A senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Jennifer Kavanagh, listed A Small State’s Guide to Influence in World Politics as her “favorite wonky read” [as in policy wonk, or at least I hope!] of 2022. You can find all the fellows’ pick here. Thank you Jennifer!

She wrote: “The New York Times, leading political science journals, and international relations textbooks share one thing in common: they tend to focus on major powers (like the United States, China, India, and Germany) with large economies, powerful militaries, or global geopolitical sway and push aside smaller states (think of Estonia, Nepal, or Bolivia) and their interests.

Tom Long’s A Small State’s Guide to Influence in World Politics does the opposite, recasting small states as protagonist. He suggests that because small states greatly outnumber major powers, students of international relations miss a lot by not carefully considering their independent role.

Long argues that small states can wield meaningful influence and shape the behavior of major powers, but only under specific conditions—for example, where the small state’s preferences are aligned with those of a major power, on issues of high importance to the small state and low importance to the large one, and when small states band together to fill a gap left by major power initiatives. He then offers a range of strategies that small states can use to maximize their influence depending on the context. A set of twenty case studies, instances of small state success and failure across regions and issues, provides the reader with a close-up view of the opportunities and constraints small states face.

The book serves as a reminder that small states not only have agency but also matter a great deal to global outcomes, especially in an increasingly contested world.”

North America 2.0

A second op-ed with Alan Bersin was published last week in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

We write: “Because our societies and economics are so interconnected, investments in building bigger and better North American relationships can pay crucial, needed dividends at home. But what sort of North American agenda can strategically enhance regional competitiveness, while remaining politically viable from standpoints both of implementation and popular acceptance in Canada, Mexico and the United States?”

The piece is entitled, “It’s time for a bigger, better North America” and you can access the whole piece here.

Op-ed in The Hill

I’m happy to see my first piece published in The Hill, co-written with Alan Bersin. The op-ed, “Global challenges, North American solutions,” seeks to animate discussion about why there’s a big, strategic reason for prioritizing cooperation in North America.

We write that, “[T[he next North American Leaders Summit presents a timely opportunity to begin. President Biden ought to arrive in Mexico City with a bold vision for invigorating trilateral cooperation where that is needed and feasible — and for  bolstering U.S. leadership in the world through its broader neighborhood.

“[T]here is no denying any longer the critical importance of Canada and Mexico — and the smaller countries of Central America and the Caribbean basin as well — for the United States’ own security and prosperity. Because our societies and economics are so interconnected, investments in these relationships can pay crucial, needed dividends at home.”

The op-ed draws on and supports our recent edited volume, out now with the Woodrow Wilson Center.

North America 2.0 events

During the first half of November, I had the opportunity to host a coast-to-coast launch for the new book North America 2.0: Forging a Continental Future. I co-edited with book with Alan Bersin, and it was published in collaboration with the Canada and Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center and the Belfer Center at Harvard University.

The book is available for free online. The first launch event was held at the Wilson Center in Washington, DC. It was recorded and is available below. We were fortunate to be joined by the Mexican Ambassador to the United States Esteban Moctezuma and the deputy chief of mission of the Canadian Embassy Sara Cohen. You can see their remarks below. The panels included several contributors to the volume, as well as our kind hosts: Christopher Sands of the Canada Institute and Andrew Rudman of the Mexico Institute at Wilson. I talked about North America’s place in a world of regions, and why global currents suggest all three countries should invest in opportunities closer to home.

The second launch event was in San Diego at the North American Forum, a group of policymakers, business leaders, academics, and more who gather annually to reflect on the state of regional integration. The gathering was hosted by the Institute of the Americas and the Global Policy and Strategy School of the University of California, San Diego. I presented the book to the group on Tuesday morning, and then gave a public talk in the afternoon.

I will add the video when it is available, but there is some information on the event available here. Former US Under Secretary of State Tom Shannon offered insightful comments, along with Dean Caroline Freund, Goldy Hyder of the Business Council of Canada, and Ambassador Juan José Gómez Camacho, formerly Mexico’s top diplomat at the United Nations.

Reviews of A Small State’s Guide

Two reviews of my book, A Small State’s Guide to Influence in World Politics, have recently been released. The two reviews were released by journals that have a credible claim to the the oldest international relations journals in the world! The book received a capsule review from Richard Feinberg in the Council on Foreign Relations’ general-audence journal Foreign Affairs. It also was reviewed by Jack Corbett in The Round Table, a journal published by the the international organization, The Commonwealth. The nicest bits below:

Richard Feinberg, Foreign Affairs: “Long persuasively presses his case that smaller states, with creative leadership, can often successfully defend their national interests in contests with bigger ones. He urges his scholarly colleagues to redefine international relations studies by stretching beyond the interactions of great powers to focus on the many smaller states that light up the geopolitical firmament.”

Jack Corbett, The Round Table: “[A]gainst the aims it sets for itself – to outline and demonstrate the significance of a relational approach to the study of small states that starts from the position of asymmetry and is global in coverage – A Small State’s Guide to Influence in World Politics succeeds remarkably. It should be warmly received and become a touchstone text for anybody interested in how the majority of the world’s states engage in international affairs.”

New article in International Organization

My new article, co-authored with Carsten-Andreas Schulz of Cambridge University, has been published by International Organization. IO is perhaps the most prestigious outlet in the field of International Relations, and I’ve dreamed of publishing there since first finishing my PhD. The article, entitled “Compensatory Layering and the Birth of the Multipurpose Multilateral IGO in the Americas,” emerges from our AHRC-funded research on Latin America and the formation of international order. In the piece, we illustrate the innovations that led to the creation of the world’s first multipurpose, multilateral international organization–a form associated with the League of Nations and the United Nations. The first such body was the Pan American Union, which developed between 1890 and 1910 through a series of bargains between the United States and Latin American states. The article builds a bridge between Global International Relations and the study of institutional design, while also advancing institutionalist understanding of the design and development of IOs.

We’re beyond thrilled to see this piece online and eventually in print. We started working on it in mid-2019, initially for a workshop at Johns Hopkins University, and it was a long road with pandemic-related disruptions pushing our revisions back by nearly a year. It’s an honor to be in the pages of International Organization! Abstract below the image.

The Pan American Union building, located just off the national mall in Washington, DC.


International organizations come in many shapes and sizes. Within this institutional gamut, the multipurpose multilateral intergovernmental organization (MMIGO) plays a central role. This institutional form is often traced to the creation of the League of Nations, but in fact the first MMIGO emerged in the Western Hemisphere at the close of the nineteenth century. Originally modeled on a single-issue European public international union, the Commercial Bureau of the American Republics evolved into the multipurpose, multilateral Pan American Union (PAU). Contrary to prominent explanations of institutional genesis, the PAU’s design did not result from functional needs nor from the blueprints of a hegemonic power. Advancing a recent synthesis between historical and rational institutionalism, we argue that the first MMIGO arose through a process of compensatory layering: a mechanism whereby a sequence of bargains over control and scope leads to gradual but transformative institutional change. We expect compensatory layering to occur when an organization is focal, power asymmetries among members of that organization are large, and preferences over institutional design diverge. Our empirical and theoretical contributions demonstrate the value a more global international relations (IR) perspective can bring to the study of institutional design. international relations (IR) scholars have long noted that international organizations provide smaller states with voice opportunities; our account suggests those spaces may be of smaller states’ own making.

Article covered in FT

My 2021 Foreign Policy Analysis article with Francisco Urdinez received some welcome attention from the Financial Times yesterday. The article drew on an interview with Paraguay’s president about the increasingly uncommon bilateral relationship, and noted our research on the opportunity cost that recognizing Taiwan appears to have incurred during the “China boom.” Paraguay is the only country in South America to recognize Taiwan over China; under the “One China” policy, third countries face an either/or decision between the two governments.

Although President Abdo is evidently seeking greater material benefits to placate domestic pressures for investment and markets (especially for agricultural goods), we argue that material benefits alone don’t explain Paraguay’s continued recognition of Taiwan. Today, the relationship between the long-dominant Colorado Party and the United States is increasingly shaky, creating another headwind for Paraguay’s pro-Taiwain faction. Still, Abdo offered quite strong support for Taiwan at the UN General Assembly, so the relationship appears to have some life.

Many thanks to editor Michael Stott at the FT for his interest!

Presentación de libro en El Colegio de México

Ha sido un gran honor presentar mi segundo libro, Los Estados Pequeños en la Política Internacional, hoy en El Colegio de México. Es la primera vez que he tenido la oportunidad de dar una conferencia en español acerca del proyecto. Agradezco mucho la oportunidad, la invitación de Celia Toro y Élodie Brun, la asistencia y participación de excelentes estudiantes y profesores. ¡Gracias! Está disponible en YouTube, en la página de El Colegio.

Si les interesa, el libro está disponible directamente de Oxford University Press o a través de Amazon y otras páginas.

North America news

Over the last several years, I have been involved in a few projects related to North American cooperation. These will be leading to a number of publications and other activities in the months and year ahead.

First, I’ve had a brief published yesterday on “North America and the World.” The paper is part of the Woodrow Wilson Center’s series Strengthening North American Ties, edited by former US Ambassador to Mexico Tony Wayne. North America is often overlooked as a world region, especially compared to those with more active regional organizations. However, there is an important reason for giving North America a greater global profile, in my view.

Second, also with the Wilson Center, I have been coordinating and co-editing a book on policy issues for North America today. It’s called North America 2.0: Forging a Continental Future. I’ve been working closely with Alan Bersin, who has worn many different policy hats in the past. The volume will include sixteen substantive chapters from some three dozen contributors. Those authors include a wide range of experts, academics, former diplomats, military officials, private sector representatives, and policymakers. The book should be published in October by the Wilson Center Press, so more updates soon!

Finally, I continue my role as chair, co-coordinator and co-editor (all with Eric Hershberg) of a more academically focused research network: the Robert A. Pastor North American Research Initiative. We have just finished the text for an editing volume resulting from this collaboration, which will be published next year by the University of New Mexico Press. It will be called, North America: Stagnation, Decline, or Renewal? You can see the Table of Contents below. The initiative also led to my recent article in Global Studies Quarterly on public attitudes on regional cooperation in Canada, Mexico, and the United States.

Atlantic Council: Ukraine and the Global South

Yesterday, I joined an online panel at The Atlantic Council to discuss the diverse responses from small states, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Global South more broadly to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. There has been much comment, and some derision, regarding the ambiguity or lack of condemnation of the invasion from the world beyond NATO. In this panel, we discuss why that might be the case, and how US foreign policymakers should respond.

More information on the panel and panelists is available here, or you can watch the panel on YouTube above.

If you find the panel of interest, you might want to check out A Small State’s Guide to Influence (Oxford University Press, 2022). It’s available from OUP directly, with the discount code ASFLY06, via Amazon on Kindle or hard copies in the US, or via many fine booksellers.

Promotion to Reader

In the last few days, I’ve received the formal announcement that I’ve been promoted to Reader!

For those in North America, that’s probably rather cryptic. After all, those who know me also know that I’ve been doing a lot of reading for quite a long time. At Warwick, though, Reader is a title between associate professor and full professor (or “chair”); it’s something of a half-step like “senior associate professor.” Unlike in the US, in the UK, I still am not permitted to use the title “professor”!

In the traditional UK academic hierarchy, the career path went Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, Reader, Professor. Many British universities, Warwick included, have changed from “lecturer” to assistant professor and associate professor. A few, again including Warwick, have retained Reader as a legacy; it’s a non-required half-step between associate and full professor.

(I’m not entirely sure about why these changes have happened, but I suspect that as the academic job market became increasingly global, North American applicants shunned “lecturer” positions because that term is associated with a lower, non-permanent rank in many US universities. Just a guess.)

Anyhow, I am looking forward to the new business cards. A big thanks to my colleagues at PAIS for their support in the process, to my friends and mentors at American University, to the six anonymous professors who provided external references, to friends, coauthors, and colleagues around the world. And a big thanks to Marta, Sophie, Mom and Dad.