Foreign Nations Intervention in Civil Wars

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Foreign Nations Intervention in Civil Wars

The events in history had seen many civil wars that took place in various parts of the world. Civil wars are defined as “violent conflict between organized groups within a country” (Fearon, 2006). Being the case, it is questionable as to why foreign nations intervened with such kind of domestic affairs. The intervention of foreign nations entails a specific reason or agenda in their part, which is the main cause as to why they participate in the civil wars of other countries.

Foreign nations intervention in civil wars are notably observable in three events in the past namely the civil wars in Korea in the 1950s, Vietnam Civil war in the 1960s, and the Afghanistan Civil War in the 1980s. Civil War The meaning of civil war explains that it should only involved the citizens of a particular nation. The conflicting groups that are existing within the country could be two or more militant groups fighting with each other.

The source of disagreement could also come from the political tension among the existing government and some civilian groups that does not agree with how the government runs things and implement policies. James D. Fearon (2006) supported this definition of civil war when he argued that civil war pertains to violent conflicts among organized groups found within a country. The reasons behind such disagreement could be attributed to the struggle over the position of power in the government, one group’s separatist objectives, or a particular policy implemented by the government that caused friction and division among its citizens.

An armed combat would only be considered as a civil war when there are 1,000 dead that also leads to a high amount of rural insurgencies although not intensely violent or disturbing. Furthermore, Fearon emphasized that political goals is the primary characteristic of a civil war, if ever there are other motives such as vengeance or hatred then it could not be considered as such. 1950s Civil Wars in Korea The Korean civil war could be attributed to the different the ideological beliefs between North and South Korea.

North Korea adheres to communism while on the other hand South Korea believes in democracy. Due to this difference, the division of Korea took place that separated them between the communist North and the democratic South. Korea used to be owned by Japan but it has been separated into occupational zones after the event of the World War II. The United States of America accepted the defeat and act of surrender by the Japanese in Southern Korea. Similarly, the forces of the Soviet Union also did the same act in the northern part of Korea.

What seems to be a temporary division becomes permanent when the Soviet Union aided in establishing a communist rule in North Korea while the United States make sure that they supported the South Korea through financial and military aid (“Korean War”, n. d. ). On 25 June 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea through a surprised attacked that caught the South Korean army as well as a small number of U. S. forces off guard that makes their invasion of the capital city of Seoul easier. Just a couple of days after this invasion the United States of America push for a UN resolution that would give military aid to South Korea.

In line with this, President Harry Truman through this resolution worked under the United Nations “police actions” towards the North Korean invaders (“Korean War”, n. d. ). The influence of the United States had reversed the situation, the South Korean forces together with the U. S. forces attacked North Korea. Nevertheless, this decision of invasion stimulated other parties to intervene. In the late 1950, the forces of the communist China also made their presence felt in the war, which resulted in a violent and bloody armed combat (“Korean War”, n. d. ).

According to the Naval Historical Center (2001), this violent dispute lasted for more than three years. Eventually, the war ended in 1953 when the United States and North Korea end the war by signing a cease-fire agreement. However, this agreement continued to divide North and South Korea at almost the same geographical portion. The participation of foreign countries like the United States of America and China symbolizes the vested interests of these two nations. One of the important things that have to be considered in this situation is the fact that the cold war is already being felt during this time.

The competition between the concept of democracy that is led by the U. S. and the idea of communism through the leadership of the Soviet bloc is observed through this civil war in Korea. The United States supported South Korea because they deem that not doing so would result for the north to annex them into their communist ideology. In the same manner, the Soviet Union gives aid to North Korea because of they did not want this territory to be under the U. S. influence. Even other communist countries like China also intervened in the situation in order to support North Korea.

This assertion is proven when the Korean War was considered as the start of the hot, violent, and expensive cold war (Naval Historical Center, 2001). The reported casualties in this civil war amounted to the death of 55,000 American troops. This war was deemed as a “limited war” because of the goal of the United States to merely protect South Korea from being invaded by the communist North. The U. S. had no intention of defeating the enemy and in this case the villains are North Korea together with the other countries that support communism (“Korean War”, n.

d. ). 1960s Vietnam War The Vietnam War is also another example of a civil war wherein the intervention of foreign countries has been observable. This war also exemplified how conflicts within a country was aggravated due to the interests of others. In line with this, this civil war also exemplified how the Cold War is taking place during that time. The origins of the Vietnam War took place in 1954 when the Vietnamese Nationalist and the Vietminh army that was led by communists defeated the French at Dienbienphu.

The French were forced to established North Vietnam as a communist while leaving South Vietnam as non-communist. However, this did not sit well with the United States of America especially after President Harry Truman supported France in maintaining its Indochina colony, which composed of Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam through economic and military aid. The U. S. government led by President Dwight D. Eisenhower decided to established a nation as well as a political machinery in South Vietnam.

He created a government that replaced the French and also deployed military advisers in order to train the army of South Vietnam. Furthermore, the U. S. also instructed its Central Intelligence Agency to apply psychological warfare towards North Vietnam (Rotter, 1999). The administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson had fully committed the country into war when the Congress allowed the Tonkin Golf Resolution, which paved the way for the continuous air bombing of the U. S. to South Vietnam. This action confirmed that the United States was indeed at war (Rotter, 1999).

The succeeding president, Richard Nixon, implemented the idea of Vietnamization wherein he ordered the withdrawal of American troops that gave South Vietnam a greater role in the battle for this civil war. However, he made the effort to weaken North Vietnam by deploying American forces in Cambodia to demolish the supply bases (Digital History, n. d. ). During 1968 to 1973, diplomacy was utilized in attempts of ending the war. In January 1973, an agreement were made that resulted for the U. S. withdrawal in Vietnam and the released of U. S.

prisoners. Eventually, in April 1975 Vietnam was united as one country when South Vietnam surrendered to the North (Digital History, n. d. ). The intervention of the United States in the Vietnam War is an effort to combat the driving force of communism in the world, which is the North Vietnam’s government led by Ho Chi Minh. For the Americans, the enemy is communism because this ideology defy everything the U. S. upholds. The idea of freedom, human rights, free trade, and most especially the concept of democracy are violated by communism.

This effort to combat communism is clearly seen when President John F. Kennedy supported the counterinsurgency war wherein he sent 400 Green Beret soldiers in order to trained the South Vietnamese how to fight and eventually combat the communist guerrillas of North Vietnam (Rotter, 1999). Furthermore, Rotter (1999) also argued that the United States believes in the domino theory wherein if ever a particular country in a region would adhere to communism then other nations would also follow suit just like a falling domino. This is the exact idea the U.

S. wanted to prevent, which is why they participated in the Vietnam War because they deem that if the whole Vietnam would follow communism then eventually the other countries in Southeast Asia would also do the same. In relation to this, another reason is the objective of the U. S. for other countries to follow the path of democracy and identify themselves as member of the free states. The U. S. efforts in doing so was seen when the U. S. gave economic and military aid to France in order to maintain its Indochina colonies.

They also used the same idea of the domino theory that if countries would see the development of France and its colonies then eventually they would chose democracy instead of communism. 1980s Afghanistan Civil War The experienced of Afghanistan during its civil war in the 1980s is also similar to the events that took place in Korea and Vietnam. Foreign countries also intervened in this civil war. This involvement of other countries could be seen through the events of the war wherein their contribution to the armed combat also signifies their own interests in doing so.

The Afghanistan civil war started when the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) assassinated the first president of the country, Muhammad Daoud. The succeeding government led by Muhammad Taraki a member of the PDPA implemented policies that are very communist in nature. The resistance in this kind of policy resulted in a bloody civil war. From the start, the Communist Soviet Union supported the PDPA through economic and military aid. The PDPA party was also experiencing conflict between two rival factions that are after the control of the government.

Taraki was overthrown by Amin, which threatened the Soviet Union because this new leadership might pave the way for the Afghanistan to lean towards the United States. This is the reason why the Soviet Union invaded the country. Amin was executed by the Soviet forces and was later on replaced by an Afghan Communist government led by Babrak Karmal, which acted as a puppet administration. Other foreign countries like the United States, United Kingdom, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and China supported the Afghan Mujahadeen or holy warriors who were against the government established by the Soviet Union.

The intervention of other nations aggravated the conflict. Eventually, by 1988 the dragging armed combat as well as the tensions in the Soviet politics pressed Moscow to adhere to the Geneva Accords of 1988. This agreement entails the Soviet army to leave Afghanistan in February 1989 (Lee, 2007). The incidents that took place in the Afghanistan civil war clearly shows why foreign countries participated in this kind of war.

Due to the own interests of the Soviet Union to prevent the increasing number of free states that would follow the idealism of the United States, they decided to invade Afghanistan. They assassinated Amin, who they suspected sided with the United States. In the same manner, the United States and other countries gave aid in terms of monetary as well as military equipment to the Afghan Mujahadeens to helped in their efforts of overthrowing the puppet government that was controlled by the Soviet Union as well as an effort to prevent the further spread of communism in Asia.

The above mentioned civil wars only proves that foreign intervention took place in order to further the objectives and accomplished the goals of countries who involved themselves in this war. The United States of America and the Soviet Union are clear examples of countries that utilized the conflicts happening in other parts of the world to sustain their own interests. It is important to understand that these countries were the main actors who intervened because of the on-going Cold War happening between them during those times.

Cold War was characterized by indirect aggression towards each other, which is clearly established by these two countries by simply supporting or aiding conflicting parties within a civil war. The main idea was for the United States to support parties that are against communism and for the Soviet Union to do the same by giving aid to those that are in favor of the communist idea and are against the free state the United States are fighting for. In all of these, it is proven that intervention indeed becomes a means to pursue and accomplished the vested interests and objectives of other countries.

References __________. Learn About the Vietnam War. Retrieved June 28, 2008, from http://www. digitalhistory. uh. edu/modules/vietnam/index. cfm. __________. Korean War. Retrieved Jully 10, 2008, from http://www. asianinfo. org/asianinfo/korea/pro-korean_war. htm. Fearon, J. D. (April 2006). Civil War. Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. Retrieved June 28, 2008, from http://fsi. stanford. edu/news/ civil_war_definition_ transcends _ politics_ 20060410/.

Lee, R. A. (2007). The Afghan Civil War. Retrieved June 28, 2008 from http://www. historyguy. com/afghan_civil_war. html. Naval Historical Center. (2001). The Korean War, June 1950 – July 1953. Retrieved June 28, 2008, from http://www. history. navy. mil/photos/events/kowar/kowar. htm. Rotter, A. J. (2001). The Causes of the Vietnam War. Retrieved June 28, 2008 from http://www. english. uiuc. edu/maps/vietnam/causes. htm.


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  • University/College: University of Arkansas System

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 1 December 2016

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