American Foreign Policy in the Third World Countries

The Force of Law vs. the Law of Force

Term Paper, 2005

10 Pages, Grade: A




The Force of Law

The Law of Force




Throughout history, world leaders and diplomats have been faced with the challenges of trying to promote national interest, while at the same time striving for peace and stability in a constantly changing world. The very nature of conflict has evolved over time from interstate conflicts arising from aggressive state ambitions to the intrastate bloodbaths of ethnic rivalries. Nonetheless, there are certain fundamental principles by which the world operates, both in the international and the national environment. Only in the middle of the 20th century, after the two horrendous World Wars, nations came up with the universal set of laws to coexist peacefully like the Charter of the United Nations. More often we hear in Mass Media about the failure of UN and its urgent need for reconstruction.

With the continuing development of the nuclear weapons and the quick advancement of the highly sophisticated missiles the world has changed drastically. On the one hand nuclear arsenal prevents the World War III because, obviously, it would be the last war of humanity. On the other hand it is enough to possess it in order to pursue its own ambitions.

The USA became a super power of the 20th century and the absolute winner of the Cold War. The Cold War between the US and the USSR forced both sides to undertake some measures to spread its ideology or just to contain the other from spreading. Both sides have broken the law of refraining from threat or use of force, provided in the Article 2(4) of the UN Charter. One American scholar listed the tools of US foreign policy, which are: diplomacy, propaganda (USIA), economic reward and punishment, clandestine operations and military intervention.[1] Thus, the object of this particular research is the United States’ foreign policy in the Third World (meaning here not industrialized, mainly poor countries) and its use of words (internetional law and diplomacy) and deeds (coercive diplomacy and military intervention).

The numerous historical examples reveal the treacherous nature of American Foreign Policy, because Uncle Sam prefers the law of force rather than the force of law for the sake of its own interests.

The Force of Law

The force of law presupposes the compliance with the international obligations, i.e. international law. The main source of basics of the international law was and might still be the Charter of the United Nations. Article 2(4) requires all members of the UN to “refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nation.”[2] This article was violated numerous times by many countries and the practice shows that it is needed by the militarily weak nations to condemn the use of force by the stronger countries. Obviously, this article doesn’t reflect the de facto nature of this globe and interrelations of the countries.

The USA is the strongest country in the world and it has used force many times against the weaker countries giving all sorts of justifications for its actions. One of the applicable examples in this case would be the invasion of Grenada in 1983. It was “variously justified –as necessary to save lives of US nationals, as responding to an invitation by the governor-general; as urged be Grenada’s small neighbors; as required to restore to the people the right of self-determination and democracy.”[3] However, “ an alleged threat against American medical students studying there – was never verified; neither the CIA nor any of America’s other intelligence agencies had espionage agents on the island.”[4] Grenada was also attacked without informing Britain – the head of the Commonwealth. The US was actively intervening in Central America at the time, and made Grenada an “example”.[5]

The justification for bombing Libya was presented as following, “it held responsible of acts of terrorism, one of which had led to the death of a umber of U.S. servicemen.”[6] The more recent history includes the invasion of Afghanistan for the same reason. In the 21st century terrorism has become a convenient rationalization for using force overseas.

The other main “excuse” of the US for the forceful intervention of the countries is support or spread of democracy. Thus, the mining of Nicaraguan harbors and support of the rebels of the opposition were justified on the ground that Nicaragua was guilty of aggression against El Salvador…[where the pro-U.S. regime was].[7] This operation was taken by CIA and even the Congress condemned it by passing the Boland amendment, which “prohibited the CIA from arming Contras “for the purpose of overthrowing the government” of Nicaragua.[8]

So, the question for analysis poses itself. How is it possible to protect and spread democracy, fight terrorism all over the world, pursue national interest and at the same time obey international law? Two citations of two important figures of the American history provide a clear answer.


[1] Speak, p. 752.

[2] The Charter of the UN can be obtained from

[3] Henkin, p.54.

[4] Johnson, p. 303.

[5] This comment was made by Michael McHugh, the professor teaching American Foreign Policy, Fall 2003.

[6] Henkin, p. 54.

[7] Henkin, p.54.

[8] Jeffreys-Jones, p. 236.

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American Foreign Policy in the Third World Countries
The Force of Law vs. the Law of Force
American University of Central Asia
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American, Foreign, Policy, Third, World, Countries, Force
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Irina Wolf (Author), 2005, American Foreign Policy in the Third World Countries, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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