Step back, please

The United States must stop interfering in foreign countries

The United States has a long history of interfering with the governments of foreign countries around the world. Though often in the name of democracy, U.S. interference in foreign governments can have detrimental effects on the governments and citizens of the country, causing chaos and disruption, according to a report by UIC and USC.

An infamous example of this comes from U.S. intervention in Afghanistan. After the events of 9/11, American troops were sent to the country to take down the Taliban and free the Afghani people. However, after 20 years of fighting in Afghanistan, the United States has done more harm to the nation than good.

Though well-intentioned, U.S. intervention in foreign countries often severely harms innocent civilians. (Photo by Zeinab Rakhshandehroo)

The high civilian casualties caused by U.S. weapons were noted as ‘collateral damage,’ according to a report by the University of Lancaster. Furthermore, these weapons destroyed the country’s infrastructure and economy. As of September 2021, more than 70,000 Afghan citizens were estimated to have died as a direct result of the war, and the conflict has exacerbated poverty, malnutrition, poor sanitation, environmental degradation and a lack of access to healthcare in the country, according to Brown University.

Although the U.S. made  some progress in pushing back the Taliban, this was quickly undone when American troops left the region suddenly in August of 2021, leaving Afghani civilians with a collapsed economy, humanitarian crisis and poor conditions with the Taliban, according to Brooking. These negative impacts  severely undermine any benefits U.S. intervention could have brought for Afghanistan. 

How can the U.S. promote its core  ideals of liberty and democracy, if the country itself does not truly care for the people of Afghanistan? The United States’ failure to help build a strong, Afghan-led government that could rule the country democratically makes their intervention even more damaging in the long run, as it left the country vulnerable to the Taliban when they left. 

Another way in which the U.S. creates conflict in foreign countries is through its promotion of military regimes in Latin America.  The U.S. assists military regimes in many South American countries, such as El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, whose leaders display authoritarian and militaristic tendencies that seriously harm citizens of those nations. Often, the U.S. even trains military and police in those countries, encouraging them to be more violent, according to WOLA.

Amid the current wave of social protests in Latin America, such as demonstrations in Brazil and Peru against government corruption, U.S. influence on armed forces has caused them to take more severe and forceful measures when controlling crowds, leading to civilians being maimed, injured or killed, according to the Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas. The policies the U.S. encourages in these countries seriously sets back citizens’ push for democracy, contradicting the ideals of freedom this country preaches.

U.S. intervention is often hypocritical and contradicts our founding ideals, while supporting undemocratic policies and actions in other countries. Our ideals of democracy and freedom must be extended to the rest of the world, rather than applying solely to our own country. As U.S. citizens, it is our duty to ensure our leaders are making responsible decisions on foreign policy. 

The U.S. should try to foster diplomacy and support developing nations, but these actions must be done through less forceful and indirect methods, such as providing resources and clean technology to these countries. We must hold our government accountable for the damage they cause in foreign countries around the world and ensure any interference truly supports the country.

Ultimately, U.S. interference in foreign countries often leads to innocent civilians being hurt and democracy becoming more unattainable. Although humanitarian assistance may be helpful at times, the U.S. must stop interfering in the governments of other nations and causing harm to their people.