Author Biography

Richard J. Kilroy, Jr., is Professor of International Studies and Political Science at Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, VA. He retired from the U.S. Army in 2004, after twenty-three years of active duty service as a Military Intelligence and Latin American Foreign Area Officer. He was also involved in standing up the U.S. Northern Command as the military's response to 9/11 and supporting the homeland defense mission. Dr. Kilroy is the editor of Threats to Homeland Security: An All Hazards Perspective, (John Wiley and Sons, 2007). Dr. Kilroy holds a Ph.D. and M.A. in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia and a B.A. in Political Science from Santa Clara University, California.

Abelardo Rodríguez Sumano is Professor of International Relations at the University of Guadalajara and a member and researcher at the National Council on Science and Technology in Mexico. He has been a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley and professor at El Colegio de la Defensa, El Centro de Estudios Superiores de la Armada de México and the Instituto Nacional de Administración Pública. His most recent book is La Urgente Seguridad Democrática y la relación de México con Estados Unidos (Taurus, 2008). Dr. Rodríguez holds a Ph.D. in International Studies from the University of Miami, a Master's in Foreign Service and Latin American Studies from Georgetown University and a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and Public Administration from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).

Todd S. Hataley is a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), currently assigned to an organized crime and border integrity unit. He is also an adjunct professor at the Royal Military College of Canada. His current research interests include terrorism, radicalization and transnational crime. Dr. Hataley holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.



Subject Area Keywords

Defense policy, Homeland security, International institutions, International relations, North America, Security policy


The term "perimeter defense" has come back into vogue recently, with regard to security strategies for North America. The United States' concern primarily with the terrorist threat to its homeland subsequent to September 11, 2001 (9/11) is generating this discussion with its immediate neighbors of Mexico and Canada (and to some extent some Caribbean nations—the "third border"). The concept is simply that by pushing defenses out to the "perimeter" nations, then security will be enhanced, since the United States visions itself as more vulnerable to international terrorism than its neighbors. However, Canada and Mexico have not been very happy about the perimeter defined by Washington since 9/11. These nations have sought to define the trilateral relationship beyond just discussions of terrorism to include natural disasters and international organized crime as a component of a broader trilateral agenda. Eight years later these three nations continue to look for some convergence of security interests, although there remains a degree of tension and hesitancy towards achieving a "common security agenda" in the Western Hemisphere.This article examines the concept of "perimeter defense" within the context of the new security challenges that the United States, Mexico, and Canada face today. Questions to be addressed in the article include: Do all these nations share the same "threat" perception? Where exactly is the "perimeter?" What security arrangements have been tried in the past? What are the prospects for the future for increased security cooperation? The main focus of this article is at the sub-regional level in North America and whether a new "trilateral" strategic security relationship between the United States, Canada, and Mexico can emerge in North America.