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A Helping Hand: US Interventions Abroad in Support of Civil Resistance Campaigns

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posted on 08.08.2019 by Julia Adams
When does the United States (US) government support civil resistance movements in countries in which it has an extensive relationship? This thesis contributes to a more nuanced understanding of the logic of when the US provides a helping hand to fledgling resistance movements abroad by examining the shared characteristics of cases of civil resistance campaigns that the US supported compared to campaigns that the US did not support. Drawing on prior
literature, I theorize that the likelihood that the US goes against a country of extensive relationship is higher in cases for civil resistance movements that share two characteristics: (a) a demonstrated commitment to nonviolence and democratic values, and (b) is led by a viable alternative leader.

Whereas prominent recent theories the role of democratic patrons in nonviolent
revolutions have largely been tested on Middle Eastern and Arab Spring cases, I test the theory
on previously unexplored cases of US intervention and non-intervention in Latin America,
particularly in the two countries of Peru and Bolivia. Whereas the US opposed the violent Tupac
Amaru campaign in 1996, US support for the nonviolent Anti-Fujimori campaign in 2000
demonstrates how the United States only supported the removal of the Fujimori regime once a
viable nonviolent democratic opposition mobilized. In Bolivia, the US supported civil resistance
campaigns against a military junta in 1978 and it called for the reestablishment of Bolivian
democracy, whereas the US did not support a civil resistance campaign against President Hernan
Siles Zuazo in 1984 that occurred within an already established democratic electoral system. The
qualitative case evidence largely supports the argument that the US intervenes to support
democratic values, but will only do so when a viable, democratic leader and outcome is ensured.





John Chin


Institute for Politics and Strategy