Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Blowback is a term used in espionage to describe unintended consequences. In context, it can also mean retaliation as the result of actions undertaken by nations. The phrase is believed to have been coined by the CIA.
In the 1980s, blowback became a central focus of the debate over the Reagan Doctrine, which advocated militarily supporting resistance movements opposing Soviet-supported, communist governments. Critics of the Reagan Doctrine argued that blowback was unavoidable, and that, through the doctrine, the United States was inflaming wars in the Third World. Conservative advocates, principally at the conservative Heritage Foundation, responded that support for anti-communist resistance movements would lead to a "correlation of forces," which would topple communist regimes without significant retaliatory consequence to the United States, while simultaneously altering the global balance of power in the Cold War.
Given prior CIA support of the Islamic insurgency in Afghanistan and purportedly also of Osama bin Laden, it could be argued that the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attack is the most prominent contemporary example of blowback, since some contend that this U.S. support actually helped build Bin Laden as a geopolitical force.
Blowback in a more direct sense refers to the consequences that are entailed when an intelligence agency participates in foreign media manipulation, which is then reported by their own domestic news sources as "fact".
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