Blowback: Ten ways America’s aggressive foreign policy causes blowback and political instability


  1. U.S. sanctions on oil-producing countries Iran, Venezuela, Syria, and Russia raise energy prices worldwide.
  2. U.S.-sponsored coups and proxy wars in Latin America overthrew democratically elected governments and provoked refugees to flee poverty and oppression. Likewise, U.S. wars in the Middle East, Afghanistan, and elsewhere in Asia and Africa since 9/11 have caused at least 38 million refugees to be displaced from their homes, according to Brown University’s Costs of War project.
  3. Refugees from countries ruined by U.S. policies in South America have arrived at our border with Mexico, causing political crises in the United States and helping Republicans win elections.  Likewise, refugees from U.S. wars in the Middle East arrived in Europe and caused political havoc that resulted in the election of anti-immigrant and undemocratic right wing governments.
  4. U.S. support for the mujahideen in Afghanistan prior to and during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan helped lead to the rise of Islamic extremism, including Al Qaeda, and to the subsequent U.S. twenty year misadventure in Afghanistan.
  5. U.S. support for apartheid Israel and for repressive governments in Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere –including the stationing of troops and bases — contributed to the rise of Muslim extremism and the 9/11 attacks on the U.S.
  6. According to Brown University’s Costs of War project, “Through Fiscal Year 2022, the United States federal government has spent and obligated $8 trillion dollars on the post-9/11 wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and elsewhere.”  The 2023 national security budget will be between $800 billion and over $1 trillion, depending on how you measure it (here, here, and here). That money could have been spent on a transition to green energy and on social and economic programs both domestically and internationally that would have decreased poverty, raised productivity, strengthened governments, and assuaged supply chain problems.
  7. The U.S. has over $31 trillion in debt. A substantial part of that debt is due to military expenditures.
  8. Aggressive and (according to many senior diplomats) unnecessary NATO expansion helped provoke the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the subsequent sanctions, and the refugees who fled the war.
  9. U.S. sanctions on China and U.S. provocations about Taiwan limit imports from China and raise prices in the U.S.
  10. The disastrous wars in Vietnam and Iraq led to electoral losses by Democrats in 1968 and Republicans in 2006 and 2008.  The botched withdrawal from Afghanistan damaged President Biden’s poll numbers.   It remains to be seen whether that withdrawal and the war in Ukraine will aid Republicans in 2022 and 2024, but some Republicans are hoping that it does.  By causing inflation, the war in Ukraine is helping Republicans.

    Blowback U.S. hyper-militarized foreign policy
    Blowback U.S. hyper-militarized foreign policy