US Intervention

Navy Seal missions, drones, air strikes, C.I.A. operatives, and special operations assignments highlight the proficiency and capability of the U.S. military. These forces, as well as conventional ground, air, and sea components, have been used throughout recent history in Latin America, Asia, and Africa to intercede in other nations' affairs. In this summary, we explore examples of U.S. military intervention with a focus on Latin America, the Middle East, and Somalia.

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The Monroe Doctrine emphasized U.S. interests in which region?

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These two nations became targets of U.S. military intervention during civil wars  due to terrorists and airline hijackers?  

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The maintenance of trade and the protection of U.S. economic interests as the basis for which interventions?

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Which intervention was based on ensuring the delivery and security of humanitarian aid? 

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The War on Terror broadened regional interventions into the Middle East, North Africa, and Southwest Asia.  All the following were sites of U.S. interventions, except which?

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Which war resulted in the end of a major European power and the beginning of U.S. military power internationally?

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What islands became U.S.-controlled after the Spanish-American War?

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Occasionally the goal of intervention is nation-building, which centers on the development of political and economic institutions in another nation, typically after war or internal conflict.

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Cuba was a legal protectorate of the U.S. from 1898 until 1934.  What events happened after that period?

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 President Theodore Roosevelt advanced the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine, cementing U.S. military and economic interests in North Africa.

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The U.S. helped this country revolt from Colombia in order to create a trade and shipping improvement?

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The Monroe Doctrine emphasized U.S. interests in which region?

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  • + Add tag
  • Immunology
  • Cell Biology
  • Mo

These two nations became targets of U.S. military intervention during civil wars  due to terrorists and airline hijackers?  

Show Answer
  • + Add tag
  • Immunology
  • Cell Biology
  • Mo

The maintenance of trade and the protection of U.S. economic interests as the basis for which interventions?

Show Answer
  • + Add tag
  • Immunology
  • Cell Biology
  • Mo

Which intervention was based on ensuring the delivery and security of humanitarian aid? 

Show Answer
  • + Add tag
  • Immunology
  • Cell Biology
  • Mo

The War on Terror broadened regional interventions into the Middle East, North Africa, and Southwest Asia.  All the following were sites of U.S. interventions, except which?

Show Answer
  • + Add tag
  • Immunology
  • Cell Biology
  • Mo

Which war resulted in the end of a major European power and the beginning of U.S. military power internationally?

Show Answer
  • + Add tag
  • Immunology
  • Cell Biology
  • Mo

What islands became U.S.-controlled after the Spanish-American War?

Show Answer
  • + Add tag
  • Immunology
  • Cell Biology
  • Mo

Occasionally the goal of intervention is nation-building, which centers on the development of political and economic institutions in another nation, typically after war or internal conflict.

Show Answer
  • + Add tag
  • Immunology
  • Cell Biology
  • Mo

Cuba was a legal protectorate of the U.S. from 1898 until 1934.  What events happened after that period?

Show Answer
  • + Add tag
  • Immunology
  • Cell Biology
  • Mo

 President Theodore Roosevelt advanced the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine, cementing U.S. military and economic interests in North Africa.

Show Answer
  • + Add tag
  • Immunology
  • Cell Biology
  • Mo

The U.S. helped this country revolt from Colombia in order to create a trade and shipping improvement?

Show Answer

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Table of contents

    US Military Interventions

    Intervention is when a government (in this case, the United States) involves itself in the affairs of another sovereign country. The goal of the intervention may be the complete overthrow of a country's leader and government, known as regime change, or it could be a special action aimed at impacting trade, elections, or the domestic affairs of the target state. The intervention can be unilateral, meaning only one nation is involved, or multilateral, signifying a coalition of nations undertaking the action.

    Did you know that since WWII, the U.S. military has been the most powerful in the world? While other nations may have more soldiers (ex. China, North Korea), the technological capabilities and dominance of the U.S. Navy and Air Force have been undisputed.

    The Basis for U.S. Military Interventions

    The maintenance of trade and the protection of U.S. economic interests have been recurring reasons for U.S. intervention in the affairs of other sovereign states. U.S. military interventions have ranged from full air, ground, and sea combat, to limited, 'surgical' strikes with unmanned aerial drones and cruise missiles fired from jets or naval vessels.

    Goals of intervention can include the delivery and security of humanitarian aid to airstrikes aimed at dismantling a foreign government's leadership and military capability. Occasionally the goal is nation-building which centers around the development of political and economic institutions in another country, typically after war or internal conflict.

    US Intervention in Latin America

    By the early 1800s, increased U.S. commerce and a growing number of regional trading partners put the U.S on track to expand its sphere of influence in the Caribbean and from Mexico to Chile.

    When Venezuela rebelled against Colombian rule in 1835, U.S. support for Venezuela grew out of a trade relationship between the U.S. and Columbia that the U.S. viewed as unbalanced and out of line with its free-trade goals. In 1895, the U.S. also sided with Venezuela in a dispute with Great Britain.

    In 1823, the U.S. established the Monroe Doctrine as its foreign policy approach for Latin America. Essentially, the Western Hemisphere was closed to further European colonization and America was the principal commercial power.

    Monroe Doctrine

    The Monroe Doctrine is a U.S. foreign policy position implemented in 1823 that opposed all further European colonialization in the Western Hemisphere.

    Spanish-American War

    The United States became a major world military power after its success in the Spanish-American War. The U.S. entered the war in the noble pursuit of liberating the Cuban people from Spanish rule. However, propaganda contributed to the cry for war after the sinking of the USS Maine in Havana Harbor. The "splendid little war" resulted in the demise of Spanish military power with the opposite result for the U.S.

    Order of events:

    • On February 15th, 1898, the USS Maine blew up in Cuba - most of the crew died.
    • U.S. newspapers used yellow journalism (a type of reporting that relies on sensational, biased, and often untrue information ) to create support for a war against Spain.
    • Congress declared war after Spain declared war on the U.S. and refused to free Cuba.
    • The U.S. Navy easily won battles around Cuba as well in the Philippines (Spanish Pacific possession)
    • The U.S. Army fought land battles against Cuba and Puerto Rico, defeating the numerically superior, better-equipped, and conditioned Spanish troops.

    The U.S. established a permanent naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and purchased Puerto Rico from Spain in a postwar deal. Cuba emerged as a legal protectorate of the U.S. until 1934.

    .

    cartoon of U.S. President Theodore Roosvelt and Big Stick U.S. Foreign Interventions, StudySmarterFig. 1: President Theodore Roosevelt advanced the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine, cementing U.S. military and economic interests in Latin America

    Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic

    In the 1850s, U.S. Marines landed in Nicaragua multiple times to protect U.S. interests, including civilian security and business interests. In 1913, the U.S. brokered a deal for a potential canal across Nicaragua that guaranteed U.S. exclusivity to a waterway connecting the two oceans. Concerned over the spread of communism, in the 1980s, the U.S funded anti-left-wing groups like the Contras to diminish the power of the Sandanistas.

    After a failed attempt to annex the Dominican Republic in the 1870s, the U.S. military occupied the country from 1916-1924 and intervened again in 1965 during the country's civil war.

    Panama Canal

    The U.S. intervention in Panama was a clear example of U.S. economic interests resulting in dramatic global change. After attempts by the French and others to build a canal between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the U.S. helped the Panama region break away from Colombia to create a new nation. The U.S. served as a military protector and rewarded an exclusive contract to build and operate the Panama Canal from 1903 through 1999.

    Cuba and the Cold War

    The tense showdown between the Soviet Union and the U.S. occurred in 1962 on the island of Cuba. After Fidel Casto assumed power during a Communist Revolution in 1959, U.S. attempts to restore a pro-American government failed. The Cuban Missile Crisis erupted when the U.S. detected nuclear-capable Soviet missiles on the island (less than a hundred miles) from Florida. Ultimately, the Soviets removed the missiles, but Cuba remained a communist nation.

    Effects of US Intervention in Latin America

    By 1898, Spanish colonial rule had almost entirely ended in Latin America, while the U.S. became the "policeman" of the hemisphere. The willingness of the U.S. to intervene militarily in pursuit of its economic and military goals or to ensure support for political change was unmistakable.

    At times the U.S. has supported dictators in Latin America (Pinochet in Chile, Stroessner in Paraguay) who violated human rights but were allies against communism. Despite concerns about the spread of communism in Latin America, some criticized the U.S. for lending support to undemocratic countries.

    U.S. trade with Latin America continues to be strong and the U.S. remains willing to use military force to protect its national interests in the region.

    U.S. military operations in Grenada in 1983 and Panama in 1989 showcased America's continued resolve to prevent the spread of communism, protect American lives and ensure uninterrupted trade in the region.

    US Intervention in Somalia

    The United States became involved in the affairs of Somalia as part of a broader United Nations aid and peacekeeping mission. With famine and civil war resulting in mass starvation and death, U.S. and U.N. peacekeeping forces entered the country to protect food aid supplies from being intercepted by local warlords, who were stealing supplies for money, leverage, and control over the population.

    In October 1993, the Battle of Mogadishu raged in the nation's capital when the U.S. Army Delta Force, Army Rangers, and Navy Seals battled local militiamen. Famously portrayed in the Black Hawk Down book and film of the same name, the battle occurred between fighters loyal to local warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid and U.S. forces. Two U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopters were shot down during the conflict.

    The outnumbered U.S. forces suffered 18 deaths while the Somalis lost hundreds in fierce urban combat before U.S. forces withdrew to their air base.

    Over the subsequent months, U.S. and U.N. forces withdrew without resolving the humanitarian crisis or the civil war. Somalia and neighboring Yemen became operational and recruiting centers for the Al-Qaeda and Al-Shabab terror groups. Critics have pointed to the failed nation-building attempt in Somalia as evidence that military interventions can be risky endeavors.

    History of US Intervention in the Middle East

    After World War II, the British presence in its former colonies throughout the Middle East shrank while dependence on Middle Eastern oil increased. As a result, the U.S. Navy became more concerned with shipping corridors such as the Suez Canal and the Persian Gulf.

    Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990 prompted a massive U.S. and European military coalition with a U.N. mandate to remove Saddam Hussein's forces from oil-rich Kuwait. The quickly achieved military success in what is termed the Persian Gulf War, led to the removal of Iraqi forces and the establishment of a 'no-fly zone' over Iraq until 2003. This move by U.S., French, and British airforces aimed to protect ethnic Kurds in Northern Iraq and Shiite Muslims in southern Iraq from Hussein's forces.

    Western military bases in Saudi Arabia and other neighboring Arab states led to attacks on western targets by Al Qaeda, a group led by Osama bin Laden. Terror attacks in Africa, the U.S., and Europe led to the U.S.-led 'War on Terror', culminating in the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq.

    War in Iraq

    The War in Iraq (2003-2011) is a clear example of a multilateral, U.S.-led intervention. The destruction of Saddam Hussein's military and power and the installation of a new government overlapped with years of costly urban combat during bloody sectarian violence. U.S. troop withdrawal in 2011 led to the expansion of a new radical Islamic group in the region known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (I.S.I.S. / I.S.I.L.). At the height of its control and influence, I.S.I.S. occupied more than a third of Iraq and Syria until targeted air strikes by the U.S. airforce decimated its forces.

    photo of multiple army vehicles on patrol, u.s. foreign interventions, StudySmarterFig. 3: U.S. Army convoy of Humvees

    Other U.S. Foreign Interventions

    The U.S. has also been involved in a number of other foreign interventions such as in Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria.

    Afghanistan

    After the September 11 terror attacks in 2001, U.S. and N.A.T.O. forces intervened in Afghanistan to remove the Taliban, a brutal fundamentalist regime that harbored Osama bin Laden and his training center for Al-Qaeda terrorists.

    The U.S.-led coalition began a campaign of air strikes and used Special Operations forces to support the Northern Alliance, an Afghan militia opposed to Taliban rule.

    From 2001 until 2021, the U.S-led and United Nations-mandated International Security Assitance Force ( ISAF) worked to establish a new Afghan government in Kabul and train the Afghan military to defend against insurgents. The 42-nation military alliance operated with up to 130,000 troops at its height in the war against Taliban forces, Al Qaeda fighters, and later the beginnings of I.S.I.S. The ISAF mission continued until 2014, when operations shifted to a U.S.- Afghan partnership with reduced international assistance.

    In 2021, a hastened withdrawal from Afghanistan left the Taliban to retake control of the country. Many critics have noted that the nation-building attempts by the West were doomed from the start due to ethnic and cultural differences in the country.

    Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed in Pakistan in 2011 and his lieutenant Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed in Afghanistan by a US drone attack in 2022.

    Libya and Syria

    Libya became a target of U.S. military intervention in the 1980s when the U.S. connected Libyan airline hijackers and terrorists to the government in Tripoli. In 2011, U.S. airstrikes helped accomplish regime change during Libya's Civil War. Similarly, the U.S. has used thousands of air strikes since 2014 to attack I.S.I.S. targets in Syria during that country's ongoing civil war.

    US Foreign Interventions - Key takeaways

    • The maintenance of trade and the protection of U.S. economic interests (Panama, Dominican Republic) have been recurring reasons for U.S. intervention in the affairs of other nations.
    • Goals of intervention can include the delivery and security of humanitarian aid (Somalia) to airstrikes aimed at dismantling a foreign government's leadership and military capabilities (Iraq, Afghanistan)
    • U.S. military interventions have ranged from quick air strikes to years of combat.
    • The Monroe Doctrine reinforced America's belief that Latin America was central to its foreign policy goals and national interests.

    • The War on Terror has broadened regional interventions into the Middle East (Iraq, Syria) North Africa (Libya), and Southwest Asia (Afghanistan)

    Frequently Asked Questions about US Intervention

    How many US interventions are in Latin America? 

    The U.S. has intervened in dozens of Latin American nations over the course of 200 years.

    Which event or circumstance prompted US intervention in Latin America? 

    The creation of the Monroe Doctrine (1823) established U.S. interventions in Latin America as a core foreign policy.

    What wars has America intervened in? 

    The U.S. has intervened in many wars globally including civil wars, world wars, and the war on terror.

    Does the United States have the right to intervene in the affairs of another country? 

    The U.S. government has sanctioned military intervention that supports national interests such as humanitarian aid, national security, and the protection of trade.

    What did US intervention in the Middle East have in common with US intervention in Latin America? 

    Interventions in both regions showcased America's military capabilities and willingness to project force globally in pursuit of national interests.

    Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

    The Monroe Doctrine emphasized U.S. interests in which region?

    These two nations became targets of U.S. military intervention during civil wars  due to terrorists and airline hijackers?  

    The maintenance of trade and the protection of U.S. economic interests as the basis for which interventions?

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