Local Interests and American Foreign Policy
Why International Interventions Fail
Routledge – 2013 – 180 pages
This book provides an alternative perspective on how social interest-groups form and interact to affect interventions. It combines historic, sociological and international relations perspectives in a framework through which to view the relevant socio-political dynamics in ‘target societies’. At a time when American foreign policy seeks to redefine its objectives and its methods of intervention, the monolithic ideological assumptions of the state as the panacea to all social ailments, both as a format and a vehicle of norm delivery, seemingly dooms American foreign policy and European allies, to the repetition of old mistakes.
In environments where interests and priorities are shaped on a highly localised basis, interventionist agendas often lack relevant meaning. The book focuses in particular on the contrast between the assumptions inherent in ‘Western’ interventionist strategies and social interest formation in Afghanistan, Somaliland, and Somalia. Based on extensive fieldwork, the book draws on available literature and on interviews with local population or international aid and development workers. The conclusion is that in the cases examined, the agency of local interest groups largely controls the outcome of external strategies.
This book will be of great interest to students and scholars of US Foreign Policy, International Relations and Security Studies.
Introduction 1. Strategies and assumptions 2. Towards a framework for viewing socio-political dynamics 3. Somalia and Somaliland – In the Shade of the Meeting Tree 4. Afghanistan – In the Shadows of Mountains 5. Conclusions
Karl Sandstrom recently finished a two-year project with the University of Bristol during which he spent close to nine months doing research in Afghanistan. Karl now works as a freelance consultant and retains a strong research interest in Afghanistan, Somalia, interventions and social mobilization.