US interventionism was one of the most impactful foreign policies in the 20th century in which the United States government, in an effort to contain communism, interfered with the internal politics of various nations around the world. Certain social movements or groups such as the Taliban or the Hmong were sponsored and funded by the United States since they helped advance the United States foreign policy goals in those regions.
Intervention can be military, economic, or political, and in some cases all of these at once. But in the last decades, military intervention has decreased dramatically (both world-wide and U-lead). This ties in to Robert Keohane and Josephs Nye’s theory of complex interdependence, which aims to challenge 1) that states are “coherent units” and the “dominant actors in world politics”; 2) that military force is an “effective instrument of policy”; and 3) that there is a “hierarchy of issues in world politics” (71). They argue that our interconnected world has multiple channels of communication and multiple actors within a nation-state, all of whom can interact at different, transnational levels. Thus, the nation-state is not the main entity by which these transnational transactions are occurring; instead, transnational corporations, military factions, social movements, among others are all parties within this interconnected system of world politics. Keohane and Nye also argue that the military has a reduced role in world politics, especially in reference to inter-state warfare. However, there are still conflicts involving military forces clashing with people and government, such as the FARC guerrilla in Colombia and the New People’s Army (NPA) in the Philippines.
The existence of multiple channels by which different parties can interact with each other transnationally means that one actor, such as a nation-state, can act and promote causes that are opposed by actors within the nation-state as well, such as environmentally-damaging policies or construction initiatives. The Philippines, as a former colony of the United States, has an especially noticeable US influence. During the 1980s, the United States pressured the Marcos regime to adopt a program of social, economic, and political reform to address challenges to democracy as seen by the rise of the New People’s Army. They oversaw the replacement of President Marcos’ closest military associate with an American-trained commander who could lead an effective counter-insurgency force. In general, the weakness of the Marcos regime showed and the economic and social issues within the Philippines made it difficult to effectively mount counter-insurgency measures. The NPA grew quickly under the Marcos regime, alarming the United States and triggering much greater, direct intervention measures. This had led to the US support of Corazon Arquino, who presented herself as pro-US interests, preserving the military bases and refusing communists to enter office. This was under much US influence due to the increasing disenchantment US state officials had with the Marcos regime. While in 1978 the anti-Marcos faction were resistant to American influence, in 1986, the anti-Marcos faction adopted a pro-US position due to these consistent pressures. After the ascension of Arquino to the presidency, the United States urged complete and total war against the NPA. The intervention of the United States in foreign politics to preserve their interests is not without precedent. The US’s position in this world is much in part due to the intervention conducted under what is considered our national interests.
Similarly, the US intervened in Colombia under the Clinton administration by signing a multi-billion dollar aid package called the Plan Colombia (1999). Its main goals were to fight the drug war and the cocaine shipments that flooded the US in the 90s, but also to stabilize the almost failed State of Colombia (by suppressing the last Marxist guerrilla in South America). To this day, 17 years later, the United States has spent over $9 billion in Colombia, 80% of which has been military training and arsenal. Under the Plan Colombia, the civil war in Colombia intensified dramatically; most of the 8 million displaced were caused during this time period (as compared to the previous 3 decades). In order to sustain funding, the Colombian government incentivized the army to kill and capture more rebels, a policy that lead to the ‘false positives’ in which young farmers were killed and dressed as rebels to boost up the stats. As far as results, the cocaine trade has kept increasing (one of their goals was to reduce it by half), yet the FARC has been decimated to 7, 000 members when they used to have almost 20, 000.
We argue that this sort of military-economic intervention is anachronic and has had devastating long-term consequences in both of these countries (not to mention the many more who experienced similar processes). Both these processes reveal the pervading imperialistic nature of the US. Nonetheless, there are multiple levels of globalized influence that we can discuss: Human rights violations in both these countries and the transnational human rights movement; organized transnational crime and the drug trade; and peace processes as a transnational movement. Thus, both these processes illustrate how complex and multi-layered military intervention is right now due to the globalized world we live in.
9: Realism and Complex Interdependence (Keohane) [4th edition]
On the US intervention in the Phillipines:
Video explaining the rise of the FARC guerrilla in Colombia:
On US lead ‘Plan Colombia’ against the FARC guerrilla: