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The relation between internal and external military interventions is complex. The question has been reviewed recently by Levy (1989), who based his analysis of the diversionary theory of war on the sociological theory of Simmel as reinterpreted by Coser (1956) and on data from political science and history. Most of the relationships cited by Levy may be found in the data presented here from the USA.
Levy analyzes both the internalization of external conflict and the externalization of internal conflict. The former may be illustrated by the internal conflicts in the USA during the Vietnam War: both the anti-war protests and the urban riots which increased when anti-poverty programs were cut in order to pay for the war effort. The second may be illustrated by the persistent claims that domestic labor unrest in the USA is the product of communist enemies abroad, which reached a peak in the McCarthy period and contributed to the development of the Cold War.
On another level, the close relation between internal and external military activity is evident from their common institutional basis. The soldiers and officers and the funding of military forces are available for use in either external or internal situations.
It would be useful to investigate the frequency of internal military intervention elsewhere in the world. Using one definition, the USA may have less internal intervention than other countries. Finer (1988, pp. 310-311) found that about 37% of the world's states between 1958 and 1973 had military interventions defined as 'the armed forces' constrained substitution of their own policies and/or their persons, for those of the recognized civilian authorities', and four countries had four or more such interventions during this period. Using this narrow definition, one may maintain that the USA had no such interventions. On the other hand, the use of the military as an extension of law enforcement may be greater in the USA than in other countries. We have no direct measure, but this is suggested by the related measure of rate of imprisonment. According to the New York Times of 11 February 1992, the US rate is much higher than the rate in other countries, being ten times higher than that of Japan, Sweden, Ireland, or the Netherlands.
Such an expanded analysis of internal intervention will require considerable work. There is no reason to think that government records in other countries will always be as complete as those in the USA. After all, even in the case of the USA, we have found that records of state interventions to enforce slavery are not available for the period preceding the Civil War. Also, the US data are restricted to interventions by the National Guard and US Army, Reserves, and Marines. It does not include other forces used in similar fashion, such as federal marshals. Although this is probably not a great problem for the US data, it could be of considerable importance in other countries, where special police may perform the function of internal interventions.
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