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State Escalation of Force: A Vietnam/U.S.-Mexico Border Analogy (From States and Illegal Practices, P 285-314, 1999, Josiah McC. Heyman, ed. -- See NCJ-187261)

NCJ Number
Josiah McC. Heyman
Date Published
30 pages
This article examines the distinct form and dynamics of the violent, escalatory response to problem resolution and considers why the United States engages in this type of response to political defiance and certain oppositional types of illegality.
The article observes that the United States when attempting to control populations that defy its policies, response to political defiance and illegality, in selected cases, by using force. These intentions are frustrated, however, by guerrilla-like tactics with popular underpinnings. This loss of credibility leads to escalation, in which force follows failure that follows force. One danger of the U.S. model is that it puts alienated, militarized bureaucracies into the field, seemingly advanced and professional but in fact clumsy and ineffectual and intermittently harming the rights of bystanders and opponents. The article is skeptical about treating disparate groups (e.g., Vietnamese peasants and revolutionaries, drug and immigrant smugglers, Andean coca growers, and Mexican undocumented workers) as if they are "resisting" the U.S. military/political machine. The article concludes that there is no simple equation of illegality and resistance. Notes, references