Foreign government intervention

Experimental visualization of narrower problems
Other Names:
Interference in internal affairs of states
Super-power interference in other countries
Diplomatic intervention to protect overseas investments
Foreign government interference

Intervention is the interference of one country in the internal affairs of another or in its relations with other countries. As contrasted with simple influence (intercession), intervention is aimed at deciding the domestic or foreign affairs of another country in the interests of the intervening country. Intervention may be overt (armed intervention) or covert, such as: the imposition of an alien political, economic or social system; the organization of conspiracies coups d'etat, and civil wars to achieve such aims; the dispatching of spies, terrorists, and saboteurs; financing and supplying armaments; making loans with strings attached; and the use of radio, television, and press to conduct hostile propaganda. Although intervention is outlawed in numerous international treaties and agreements, including the UN Charter, it is employed by the major industrial powers leading to continual mistrust and covert activities.

Large countries may threaten or enact military, economic or political action against smaller nations with the primary justification either that the smaller state was unable to guarantee the safety of its foreign residents (in other words, the citizens of the intervening power), or that the smaller state was unable to govern itself and possibly posed a threat to the region. Such situations may arise from civil war or other disturbances of the peace, economic collapse, or other domestic disorder; and the circumstances for intervention may be engineered, or construed from a very distorted perspective in order to justify aggression and colonization or economic dominance through forced treaties and agreements.


The USA criticized the USSR for intervention in Warsaw Pact countries, Afghanistan and Vietnam, while the USSR denounced the USA for her prior intervention in Vietnam, Libya and Central America. Following the 1990 intervention in Panama, the USA indicated that it reserved the right to intervene in other countries to facilitate the democratic outcome of an electoral process.

In 2000, the USA publicly apologized to Iran for its complicity, together with the UK, in the overthrow of the government and establishment of the Shah in the 1950s. In the same year, Belgium apologized in Kigali for the country's failings during the 1994 Rwanda genocide, notably its involvement in the killing of the Rwandan President. Other recent examples of foreign government interference are the presence of Israel in Lebanon and the Nicaraguan role in El Salvador.


It is unrealistic to expect governments of capital exporting countries to remain passive when the property of their citizens is subject to discriminatory or confiscatory treatment by other countries.

Counter Claim:

The super-powers' influence is declining in the third world and with it their capacity to intervene. The super-powers are less welcome, their smaller nations are better armed, and smaller states are less fragile. There are fewer revolutions and coups taking place now when compared to the 1960s and 1970s. Outside intervention costs more and involves greater military risks. Domestic opposition to such intervention is stronger in both countries.

Problem Type:
C: Cross-sectoral problems
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 10: Reduced InequalityGOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions
Date of last update
17.04.2019 – 11:59 CEST