America in the Third World: Strategic Alternatives and Military Implications

  • May 01, 1994
  • Dr Steven Metz

The author examines the problems of the Third World and the debates that exist regarding the most effective U.S. response to these problems. He has concluded that the Third World is undergoing such significant change that most of the basic assumptions undergirding past and current U.S. policy are no longer viable. He urges a fundamental and radical revision of our national strategy toward the Third World, and recommends a future strategy that would see far more selective and discrete involvement in these staggering problems. If our national leaders accept his theories concerning failed states, they will be less inclined to attempt active intervention on a scale that approximates the current level of U.S. involvement. The United States will, in effect, disengage from large segments of the Third World, with only carefully selected humanitarian or ecological relief operations being executed. Such a strategy would, of course, have profound implications for the U.S. military and would require adjustments in force structure and operational directives concerning the application of military power in pursuit of national interests. During times of strategic transition, "muddling through" is not enough: basic concepts must be rigorously examined and debated. The Strategic Studies Institute sees this study as a means of supporting the process of developing a coherent post-cold war strategy for dealing with the Third World as it will be, not as it was.