I’ve told this anecdote often enough but it bears repeating. When I was in college I had a year-long argument with my professor of American Diplomatic History about whether the United States had a foreign policy or not. He said it didn’t; I said it did.
I didn’t have the vocabulary to express it succinctly then but I do now. U. S. foreign policy, unlike that of many other countries, is an emergent phenomenon arrived at through the individual decisions of presidents, American politicians, diplomats, businessmen, and American consumers. We have a foreign policy. It’s just not a top-down policy.
To whatever extent we have a foreign policy one of its components is to keep the governments of neighboring countries weak. Our pilot project for that was Mexico and even the most generous reading of the interrelationship between our two countries reveals how hard we’ve worked on that project over the years.
We are now extending that policy throughout the world, something understandable in a world in which technology has brought nearly every country in the world closer in practice than Mexico was to us 50 years ago. We want weak governments everywhere. Except for here, of course.
Remember that when you read about the collapse of the Westphalian system. It didn’t jump. It’s being pushed and we’re the main pushers.
And just for reference we don’t make war with the Mafia. We don’t enter into negotiations or declare truces with them. There’s a real danger in starting to treat NGOs the way we would states.