As the author acknowledges early on, the question of Caribbean maritime security is one that has not been frequently or thoroughly analyzed or debated. In reviewing the literature, Michael Morris found that although the list of publications on the Caribbean aspects of international relations, U.S. strategic interests, and the Cold War was growing, a comprehensive treatment of Caribbean maritime security had not appeared. This book is, therefore, an attempt to fill that gap.

The work includes chapters on the maritime capabilities of the Caribbean countries, which, for the purpose of this study, include the Greater Antilles (Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico), the Lesser Antilles (from the Virgin Islands to Grenada), the Bahamas, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Belize in Central America, and the three South American territories of Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana. Other chapters discuss “Cold War Maritime Issues,” “Caribbean Boat People,” “Caribbean Drug Trafficking,” “Caribbean Straits,” and “Local Maritime Security Issues,” The chapters on the Cold War and the boat people include analytical chronologies tracking Cold War events in the Caribbean and major outmigrations. In addition, there are 30 tables and 11 maps.

With the Cold War ended, despite some lingering manifestations caused by the U.S.-Cuban rivalry, the matter of Caribbean maritime security will probably become an issue of central concern to the countries of the area. The author certainly thinks so. As the Caribbean countries find themselves, perhaps for the first time, freed from the constraints of great power colonialism and the competition of the Cold War, their interest in the security of the area is bound to escalate. The author sees the Caribbean countries coming to terms with certain critical questions, particularly as they deal with the problems of boat people, drug trafficking, the protection and control of the area’s strategic locations, maritime boundary delimitation, and fisheries management. One of those critical questions is the shape and extent of the U.S. role. Another is whether or not the area’s countries will increase their naval and constabulary capabilities to fill gaps left by the receding Cold War powers. Additional questions include which maritime security issues to emphasize and how to solve the inevitable conflicts peacefully.

For those with scholarly and policy interests in Caribbean relations, this book is timely and useful. Without doubt, its most important chapter is the one that thoroughly analyzes the naval and coast guard capabilities of all the countries of the Caribbean, including, in some instances, Mexico, Colombia, and Venezuela. Understanding the power relationships between those countries will be essential for predicting future actions or policy determinations in a post-Cold War period. Another important chapter is the final one, “Conclusions and Comparisons.” Here the author focuses on two groups of trends: issues and actors, and proposes possible policy directions for both the United States and the countries of the area in the foreseeable future.

The one critical shortcoming in this work is that it fails to take a broader view of what constitutes the Caribbean. The list of countries and territories mentioned as the focus of this study omits key players in the region. A comprehensive study of Caribbean maritime security should take in the whole circum-Caribbean area and include Colombia, Venezuela, Mexico, Panama, and all the Central American countries. It is impossible to analyze the drug-trafficking problem, maritime boundaries, or the strategic issues of the Caribbean straits without involving a greater Caribbean area than the one considered in this work. While it may be true that neither Colombia, Venezuela, nor Mexico has shown great interest in the Caribbean, their roles may change radically in a post-Cold War Caribbean world.