Democracy by Force: U.S. Military Intervention in the Post-Cold War World

Democracy by Force: U.S. Military Intervention in the Post-Cold War World

Democracy by Force: U.S. Military Intervention in the Post-Cold War World

Democracy by Force: U.S. Military Intervention in the Post-Cold War World


Since the end of the Cold War the United States has intervened militarily in a number of civil conflicts around the world, with varying degrees of success. This book examines four US-sponsored interventions (Panama, Somalia, Haiti and Bosnia), focusing on the vital nation-building efforts which have followed military action. The book seeks to provide a greater understanding of the successes and failures of US policy, to improve strategies for reconstruction, and to provide some insight into the conditions under which intervention and nation-building are likely to succeed.


Just one year into his presidency, George Bush ordered the invasion of Panama, a decision that would have far-reaching implications not just for Panamanians, but also for the US government as it assumed its lone Superpower role. In many respects, this action had more in common with the US invasion of Grenada in 1983 and other Central American incursions than the post-Cold War interventions. The Panama and Grenada operations were allegedly undertaken to restore democracy, yet in neither case were democratic reforms high on the agenda, nor was either sanctioned at the UN. Panama differs, however, from the entanglements in the western hemisphere during the Reagan era because US troops landed just one month after the fall of the Berlin Wall: the Soviet menace could no longer provide the pretext, and even if it could, there were no communists threatening to take over the canal. US policy was about to move in an altogether different direction.

Subsequent large-scale, US military interference in international crises would be labelled interventions, as opposed to another Panamastyle invasion, but the mistakes made prior to this operation, during the invasion itself, and in the post-conflict period taught US policy makers valuable lessons, particularly for the reconstruction phase. Some of these lessons would be brought into practice without delay, others would not be applied until Haiti and Bosnia, while still others are yet to be realised. This chapter explores in greater detail the invasion of Panama by first discussing whether the cause was just through an examination of the period leading up to it, how the plans for the military component and the post-conflict political reconstruction were conceived and implemented, and finally, what mistakes were made and lessons learned.

In the run-up to invasion

A painfully close Panamanian-American relationship

The co-dependent relationship between Panama and the United States dates back to Panama's formal declaration of independence from . . .

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