Unintended Consequences of US Interventionism
In the last decades, the US government has spent billions of dollars on military interventions in many countries. Has this type of foreign intervention been a success or failure from the perspective of the supporting country? For a sample of 174 countries between 1968 and 2018, Eugen Dimant (University of Pennsylvania), Tim Krieger (University of Freiburg) and Daniel Meierrieks (WZB) study how US military aid affects anti-American terrorism and military and economic-political conditions in aid-receiving countries. One of the main results: Higher levels of military aid result in more anti-American terrorism in recipient countries. Additionally, the empirical work shows that US military aid has not been successful in enhancing military capacity in the recipient countries of military aid, but has rather contributed to exclusion and corruption.
The article “Nation building through military aid? Unintended consequences of US interventionism” discusses the effectiveness of US military aid as a component of nation-building and as means of reducing anti-American terrorism and solidifying US security interests. Here, US interventions are not only carried out to stabilize foreign countries but also to aid the United States. The article’s main example covers the US invention in Afghanistan, but the article also examines US interventionism since World War II and its consequences, highlighting the historical geopolitical and geostrategic interests that have guided US interventions.
Using a sample of 174 countries between 1968 and 2018, the authors show that US military interventionism often does not achieve its main goals because it frequently produces unintended consequences. These consequences include the production of anti-American terrorism as well as increases in economic-political exclusion and corruption in aid-recipient countries. Such consequences will make it almost impossible to reach a development path that achieves desired nation-building goals in the medium and long run. At the same time, an initially successful intervention (as in Afghanistan) may eventually turn problematic because, for example, experiences of corruption become more and more prevalent.
Their contribution was published as a chapter of the book “Nation Building: Big Lessons from Successes and Failures”, edited by Dominic Rohner and Ekaterina Zhuravskaya.