Military intervention, local wars and superpower policies, 1950-83: towards a conceptual framework
Symeonides, Anestis T.
There is wide recognition of the fact that superpower competition may be increasingly manifested in "second area" political and military actions to protect perceived "security interests" in contested areas of the world--provided of course that the central nuclear balance remains "stable". The invasions of Grenada and Afghanistan have fuelled the debate on whether the superpowers are increasingly inclined to use military force in challenging each other's influence and presence outside the European theater. The debate is more sharply focused when we take into account that, in recent years, and while United States policies continue to be influenced by the "Vietnam syndrome", the Soviet Union has established distant power projection capabilities and has steadily increased its involvement with Marxist movements and regimes in the Third World. Superpower military intervention in local conflicts could be therefore a critical, if not the decisive, element in the maintenance of world peace in the 1990s and beyond. The central thesis of this work is that the "incremental" methods, employed widely in the study of the uses of military force as an instrument of policy by the superpowers, albeit useful in examining individual cases of military incursions, are of limited value in the construction of a generalized conceptual framework which, in turn, may lead to a diachronic model of superpower military intervention and involvement in local wars. This study was conceived as a first contribution towards such a model. The research design was based on two principal methods: first, "soft" systems thinking and practice and, second, the comparison of case studies. Military intervention was conceived as a "human activity" system which, like all such systems, largely defies precise measurement or manipulation. Thus, the main purpose of this study derived from a desire to offer a conceptual, as well as, a methodological framework to facilitate further research.