The Eisenhower Administration

US Foreign Internal Security Assistance, and the Struggle for the Developing World, 1954-1961

Published in: Low-Intensity Conflict and Law Enforcement, v. 10, no. 3, Autumn 2001, p. 1-32

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2001

by William Rosenau

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During the Eisenhower administration, the United States began its first systematic program of support to foreign police and paramilitary forces. As instruments of US containment policy, the 1290-d initiative, and its successor, the Overseas Internal Security Program (OISP), were intended to thwart communist efforts to subvert governments deemed important to the survival of the 'free world'. In designing and carrying out these programs, however, the Eisenhower administration failed to appreciate the difficulty of transforming foreign internal security forces in countries as fractious and diverse as Iran, Indonesia and South Vietnam, These earlier efforts to develop police and security forces abroad are of more than historical interest. Today as the United States conducts nation-building in Iraq and Afghanistan, and wages a global 'war on terror', it is essential for policy makers to understand the limits of America's ability to reshape foreign internal security institutions.

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