For the industrialized countries, especially the United States, it is important to understand the implications of a changing Latin America. Granted, specific problems exist, including criminally and politically motivated violence and uneven socioeconomic levels of performance. In his early 1990s assessment of the hemispheric environment, Robert Pastor suggested that Latin America and the Caribbean have represented a policy “whirlpool” for the United States. The director of Latin American and Caribbean Affairs on the National Security Council from 1977 to 1981, Pastor contends that US-Latin American/Caribbean relations follow a distinctive historical pattern. In the 1990s, the strategic policy dilemma of the United States vis-à-vis the Western Hemisphere is to redefine what has been essentially a narrowly focused political and diplomatic interest. There are indications in some regions of the world that nationalism is a potent force that is dividing an uncertain post-cold war era.