ISA 2015

It’s the most magical day of the year for IR scholars…the release of the preliminary program for the ISA Annual Conference! Thanks to the many section chairs who devoted countless hours to reading abstracts–and thanks especially for choosing me to chair a panel on Brazilian diplomacy and present a paper on small states’ foreign policies. (I have diverse interests, I suppose.) I am really glad to see a panel dedicated specifically to small states’ foreign policies.

Here’s the abstract for my paper, “Small states, great power?”

In recent years, IR scholars have devoted increased attention to the agency of small states in International Relations. Some have argued that a “foreign policy power” approach is needed to reveal the important roles that small states play, often in bilateral or subregional affairs. How do small states seek to exploit opportunities and manage constraints? This paper addresses that question by offering analytical categories of small state foreign policy power. Synthesizing evidence from an extensive review of the literature on small states, often focused on single countries, I develop a more cohesive foreign policy power approach for small states. In particular, I argue that small-state foreign policy power can be best understood as originating in three categories of capabilities. These can usually be grouped as “derivative,” collective, and particularistic. Derivative power, described by Michael Handel, relies upon the dominant power for their effectiveness. Collective power involves building coalitions of supportive states apart from the great power. Particularistic power relies on the inherent assets of the small state trying to do the influencing. These categories set the stage for future research into the conditions under which small states are most likely to achieve influence.

New position: CIDE-DEI, Mexico City

I am very excited to be joining the Departamento de Estudios Internacionales at the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas in Mexico City. I will be a visiting research professor for the 2014-2015 academic year.

Those who study Latin America will certainly know CIDE. For those who do not, it is perhaps Mexico’s top research institution for the political science, IR, and economics. CIDE has a small (but highly regarded) student body and a faculty of Mexican and international scholars with very strong reputations. I am grateful for the opportunity to work with them as I pursue a number of different research projects. I have the great luxury of dedicating the fall semester entirely to research and writing. I will likely be teaching one course in the spring semester (TBD).

On tap for the next semester…

  • Revising my book manuscript, currently under review at a great university press-to-be-named-later
  • Wrapping up an R&R at ISQ on the influence of small states in world politics
  • Completing a project on the NAFTA negotiations with the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
  • Finishing a draft article on small-state foreign policy power
  • Starting a new research project on Mexican and Brazilian foreign policy, regional organizations, and global order

Panama’s UNSC Strategy

In the newest volume of Diplomatic History, I argue that Panama effectively used its temporary seat on the UN Security Council in 1974 to reshape the international agenda and reframe the U.S. and world perception of the Panama Canal negotiations. The article is called “Putting the Canal on the Map: Panamanian Agenda-setting and the 1973 Security Council Meetings.”

See the article here (sPanama Canalubscription required, so you might want to try through your library).

The abstract follows.

In the early 1970s, Panama’s negotiations with the United States over the status of the Panama Canal ground to a standstill. General Omar Torrijos had rejected treaties left unratified by previous governments only to receive a less generous offer from the Nixon administration. Realizing that the talks were being ignored in Washington, the Panamanian government worked to internationalize the previously bilateral issue, creating and exploiting a high-profile forum: Extraordinary meetings of the UN Security Council in March 1973 held in Panama City. In those meetings, Panama isolated the United States in order to raise the issue’s profile and amplify the costs of leaving the matter unsettled. Using underutilized Panamanian sources, this article examines that meeting, the succeeding progress, and the effect of this early stage on the final negotiations several years later. The case also illustrates how, during the unsettled international environment of the 1970s, a small state utilized international organizations to obtain attention and support for its most important cause.

Losing a hero


Last night, I lost a man who has been my teacher, mentor, colleague, and friend. Robert Pastor has been an indefatigable force for democracy, human rights, justice, and peace in U.S. policy, in Latin America, the Middle East, and beyond. He has been a tremendous teacher to thousands. His scholarship has influenced many more.

I have had the privilege of working with him for nearly six years. For almost four, he has battled advanced cancer with amazing strength, perseverance, and good humor. He continued to work, accomplishing tremendous things despite his illness. Knowing his time was short, he invested an incredible amount of time and energy in me–in my learning, research, career, and personal development. He was more than my mentor, he was my hero. I miss him terribly.

Fall semester teaching

This fall I am excited to be teaching two courses. First, I will be teaching an upper-level seminar on “International and Foreign Policy Studies” at the Washington Internship Institute. We will examine the U.S. policy process, the U.S. role in the world, and the issues that face policymakers today. The semester-long National Security Council simulation will press students to examine and eventually craft policy regarding the U.S. response to the ongoing political crisis in Egypt.

Secondly, I will be teaching a course on global governance in the American University online M.A. program, along with Professor David Bosco. We will be covering the waterfront of international actors active in global governance and looking at a host of challenges that demand global cooperation. I’m excited to be teaching with David, who is truly one of the top scholars working on the UN, ICC, and ICJ.

I had a great time teaching this summer in American University’s Community of Scholars program. It was my third year teaching “Diplomacy and Dictators: U.S. Foreign Policy in an Uncertain World.” I was lucky to work with 24 very bright and hard-working students, as we grappled with how the United States has and should deal with the emergence of China as a possible competitor.

PhD for hire

I am interested in teaching as an adjunct in the Washington, D.C. area during the Spring 2014 term.

I am currently teaching courses on U.S. foreign policy and on global governance. My own research has focused on inter-American relations, and Latin American politics, and I would greatly enjoy the opportunity to teach a class in those subjects. I would also be interested in teaching introductory IR theory or qualitative research design.

You can find a link to my CV above. Please see my Teaching page for links to evaluations and a sample syllabus.

Dissertation defended

Approximately 1,750 days after starting the Ph.D. program at American University, I am happy to say I made it through.

Exiting my defenseDespite the many horror stories recounted by graduate students everywhere, I really enjoyed the vast majority of those days, in which I had the freedom to dedicate much of my time to learning, reading, writing, and sharing ideas with brilliant people. I am grateful for having had this extraordinary privilege. Most of all, I enjoyed it because of the people who accompanied me along the way.

Thank you, first of all to my parents, Tim and Jan Long for their support and love. Thanks to Marta, who was there every step of the way. Thanks to Dr. Robert Pastor, who has been an intellectual and personal mentor. Thanks to Professors Friedman, Atzili, Brenner, Goodman, Weiner, Silvia, Cohn, Tama, and more. Thanks to the two deans of SIS during my time here, Louis Goodman and Jim Goldgeier. I am grateful for the financial and institutional support I received from American University. It was a great place to pursue my studies.

Thanks to my colleagues and close friends in the SIS PhD program. I’m hesitant to add names at the risk of missing anyone amongst the many who have helped me out with their kindness, feedback on many drafts. But I must give my gratitude to Ryan Briggs, Daniel Dye, Sebastian Bitar, Kate Reese, Jason Rancatore, Tazreena Sajjad, Anders Härdig who have journeyed alongside (and ahead of) me. Thank you to the friends I made in USFP, who made this so much more fun–Mariah, Eren, Cannonball, Heather, Kaitie, and many others. Finally, thank you to the friends I made during my travels abroad. All of you (including many I didn’t specifically list) helped make this long process much richer.



PS – This means I am very much on the job market…

Colombia’s Uribe Out of Office, But Not Out of Mind

By Tom Long

Alvaro Uribe and George W. BushFormer Presidents George W. Bush and Álvaro Uribe of Colombia were close allies in the “war on terror,” but they are taking very different approaches to their post-presidency.  While the former has taken up painting and appears at few public events, since leaving office in 2010 Uribe has consistently tried to upstage his hand-picked successor, Juan Manuel Santos.  He has frequently taken to Twitter with biting criticisms, and in recent months – as provincial and municipal elections near – Uribe’s public condemnations have grown both more vociferous and more damaging.  Even ardent supporters of Uribe’s presidency are questioning his post-presidential politicking, according to press reports.

(Read the rest on

Will tensions over security spoil the Obama-Peña Nieto Summit?

By Tom Long

The meeting in December between recently re-elected President Barack Obama and President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto was marked by cordiality and a desire to talk about anything but the often grisly drug-related violence in Mexico during the previous six years.  Since then, Peña Nieto has continued the changed emphasis, aided by headlines pivoting to positive stories.  Mexico has been recently hailed for its economic growth, particularly in export-oriented manufacturing, and for a series of political compromises that The Washington Post favorably compared with the U.S. Congressional stalemate.  Despite optimistic claims from the government, Mexican media reports indicate that drug-related violence continues at nearly the same pace as last year.  (Click here for a summary and analysis by our colleagues at InSight Crime.)  Moreover, pressure is growing on questions of human rights violations committed in the name of the war on drugs.  When Presidents Peña Nieto and Obama meet again in early May, holding back a renewed focus on security is likely to be a challenge.

(Read the full article on the AULA Blog)

South America and the United States after Chávez

By Tom Long

In many depictions, South America’s relations with the United States have been structured around Hugo Chávez for much of the last decade.  So it is natural for the region to wonder where U.S. policy will head now that he is gone.  In the Bush Administration’s framework – which the Obama Administration has largely continued – Chávez and his closest allies in Ecuador, Bolivia, and Argentina were an emerging anti-American axis.  Colombia and Chile were considered Washington’s last bastions of support, and Brazil under Presidents Lula and Dilma variously positioned itself as a quiet moderator or, on occasion, private fan of the estrangement between the unruly ALBA countries and the United States.  With Chávez’s passing, the narrative will change.

(read full article on the AULA Blog)