War, Humanitarian Crisis, Social Movements, U.S. Foreign Policy, Neoliberalism


This article seeks to understand the dynamics of twenty-first century military intervention by the United States and its allies. Based on an analysis of Bush and Obama administration policy documents, we note that these wars are new departures from previous interventions, calling on the military to undertake post-conflict reconstruction in ways that was previously left to indigenous government or to the civilian aspects of the occupation. This military-primary reconstruction is harnessed to ambitious neoliberal economics aimed at transforming the host country’s political economy. Utilizing the Iraq and Afghanistan interventions as case studies, the study analyzes the dynamics set in motion by this policy. The key processes are two concatenated cycles of military pacification and economic immiseration in discrete localities operating through varying paths of causation. Pacification by the military as well as subsequent military-primary introduction of neoliberal economic reform generates immiseration; locally based resistance. As well as ameliorating efforts aimed at reconstructing the old system subsequently generates repacification. Each iteration of the cycle deepens the humanitarian crisis, and assures new rounds of local and sometimes national resistance.