The Kennedy Administration, US Foreign Internal Security Assistance and the Challenge of 'Subterranean War', 1961-63

Published in: Small Wars and Insurgencies, v. 14, no. 3, Autumn 2003, p. 65-99

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2002

by William Rosenau

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US foreign internal security assistance, that is, support to 'Free World' governments threatened by subversion, terrorism, and insurgency, formed a central part of the Kennedy administration's strategy for defeating 'wars of national liberation'. As part of the administration's counterinsurgency policy, support to police and paramilitary forces abroad was intended to improve the ability of friendly governments to identify and root our perceived threats to the states. Under the tenets of modernization theory embraced by administration officials, strong internal security forces were expected to contribute to nation-building by protecting the fragile development process underway in the developing world. However, in attempting to export the American police model, policymakers failed to consider whether US notions about internal security were appropriate for fractious and unstable regions of the world.

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