Military aspects of the U.S.-Soviet competition in the third world

by Francis Fukuyama

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While it is comforting for the superpowers to think that they can have influence abroad merely on the strength of the positive example they set at home, this is only true in the long run. In the short run, Third World states, regimes, and individual leaders need to survive long enough to build their domestic institutions, and therefore need security in the form of external military aid, weapons, advisers, training, and, in the last extreme, direct superpower military intervention. Because military matters are important not only to an understanding of the U.S.-Soviet rivalry in the Third World, but to the larger U.S.-Soviet relationship as well, this paper reviews the superpowers' military objectives, the history of their use of military power as a means to an end, and the likely role of military power in future U.S.-Soviet interactions. The author suggests that the United States must address the problem of military security in the short run if it is to exert its influence in the social and economic spheres in the long run.

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