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Within Sight of Each Other: Confused European Borderlands in the Caribbean

William H. Bolin


Complex, unpredictable challenges in foreign affairs are evolving unnoticed in that part of the European Union located in the Western Hemisphere.

Some of the two dozen or so islands of the Lesser Antilles are integral parts of the Republic of France or of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Two are in effect crown colonies of Great Britain. All the rest, stretching from the Virgins to Trinidad are former colonies which are still closely tied economically and culturally to Europe. Physically the northernmost islands are farther from Brussels than Addis Ababa, but closer to Washington than Mexico City.

Their current situation is unique not only because the boundaries under the waters separating many of the islands are borderlands of a rapidly changing Europe, far away from the latter. It is extraordinary also because there are almost no institutional structures or mechanisms for common local action on a rising number of common problems. Finally, while reflecting Europe's dramatic geopolitical transformation, the islands still form the 500-mile long Eastern boundary for a zone of historical U.S. vital interest. It is unwise to overlook them.

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Print ISSN: 0886-5655
Online ISSN: 2159-1229