Geography has always played a major role in world politics. In this study, Philip Kelly maps the geopolitics of South America, a continent where relative isolation from the power centers in North America and Eurasia and often forbidding internal terrain have given rise to a fascinating and unique geopolitical structure.
Kelly uses the geographical concepts of "checkerboards" and "shatterbelts" to characterize much of South America's geopolitics and to explain why the continent has never been unified nor dominated by a single nation. This approach accounts for both historical relationships among South American countries and for such current situations as Brazil's inability to extend its authority across the continent from Atlantic to Pacific, its traditional competition with Argentina, its territorial expansion toward the continental heartlands, its encirclement by neighbors fearful of such expansion, and its recent rapprochement with Argentina.
An important component of this book is the incorporation of the thinking and writing of South American geopolitical analysts, which leads to an interesting inventory of viewpoints on frontier conflicts, territorial expansion, industrial development, economic cooperation, and United States and European relations. Kelly's findings will be important reading for geographers, political scientists, and students and scholars of Latin American history.