Ben Foy
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The end of Cold War was a period of great hope as many people who were oppressed gained freedom! But not everything was rosy. The fall of the USSR left a power vacuum which lead to many conflicts. Starting with the invasion of Kuwait and culminating with the messy disintegration of Yugoslavia, new conflicts strained the UN and shocked the international community. The US was at the forefront of the effort to halt these atrocities and our efforts gained us wide acclaim and a lot of credibility. Culminating in the development of a new, very effective form of warfare, the Air War.

An air war wouldn’t have helped in Afghanistan, so a ground force was needed there. But the Iraq war was a misguided exercise in nation building. When Obama announced the Libyan ‘no fly zone’ and intervention, it’s not surprising that many people tried to compare it to the Iraq War but in reality it’s the culmination of the lessons learned in earlier conflict with Iraq, Bosnia and Kosovo.

Background

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gulf_War

On August 2, 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait. President Bush built a international coalition to protect Saudi Arabia and free Kuwait. That coalition was supported by the UN and successfully achieved its objectives. Afterwards many people who were emboldened by the coalition’s success, criticized the decision not to invade Iraq. Those people didn’t understand the costs and risks associated with such a venture.

But a different group of people marveled at the opportunities associated with air superiority and realized what a potent weapon it could be. In the aftermath of the bombing of the Kurds, a ‘no fly zone’ was set up in Iraq. It turned out to be too late but the concept resonated in military circles. Many military planners believed that an earlier ‘no fly zone’ would have enabled the Iraqi people to topple Saddam Hussein.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations_Operation_in_Som...

As President Bush left office, he sent American troops to Somali for a UN peace keeping mission. Clinton inherited this operation and he supported it. The failure of this mission was embarrassing but not politically harmful to Clinton. But it showed the risks of nation building, even UN supported nation building.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreign_policy_of_the_Bill_Clin...

In the power vacuum after the end of the cold war the number of genocides soared. But some in Europe were reluctant to get involved. But then Rwanda shocked the US and Europe into action.

Quote:
In April 1994, a genocide erupted in Rwanda due to a conflict between Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups. Over the next few months, an estimated 500,000 to 1 million Rwandans, mainly Tutsi, were killed. By July, the Rwandan Patriotic Front took over the country. Although the Clinton Administration and the international community was aware of the genocide taking place in Rwanda, no action was undertaken. […] Clinton and the United Nations faced criticism for their non-response to the genocide. When Clinton traveled to Africa in 1998, he said that the international community, presumably including the US, must accept responsibility for the failure to respond to the massacres. When speaking about the Rwanda Crisis, Clinton called it his worst failure, admitting "I blew it."


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bosnian_War

At that time Clinton was trying to build a coalition to help protect Bosnia. UN wouldn’t support action so Clinton turned to NATO.

Quote:
After the second Markale massacre, NATO responded by opening wide air strikes against Bosnian Serb infrastructure and units in September.

At that point, the international community pressured Milošević, Tuđman and Izetbegović to the negotiation table and finally the war ended with the Dayton Peace Agreement signed on November 21, 1995. The final version of the peace agreement was signed December 14, 1995 in Paris.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kosovo_War

The effectiveness of that Bosnian air campaign convinced the NATO members that it was a viable strategy and Europe became more willing to intervene. This set the stage for Kosovo. The people of Kosovo were being oppressed by Serbia, there was a rebel force called the KLA which was fighting the Serbs and was known for more atrocities than the Serbia forces. So NATO initially wasn’t sure who to support.

Quote:
The Račak incident, which involved the killing of 45 Albanians by Serbian troops on January 15, 1999, was the culmination of the KLA attacks and Serbian reprisals that had continued throughout the winter of 1998-1999. The incident was immediately (before the investigation) condemned as a massacre by the Western countries and the United Nations Security Council, and later became the basis of one of the charges of war crimes leveled against Milošević and his top officials. The details of what happened at Račak were revealed shortly after Serb paramilitaries left the scene of the massacre. Rolling TV cameras featured United States Ambassador William Walker walking through mutilated bodies of Albanians. Shortly after that he held a press conference where he stated that he had just witnessed Serbian crimes against civilians. The massacre was the turning point of the war. NATO decided that the conflict could only be settled by introducing a military peacekeeping force under the auspices of NATO, to forcibly restrain the two sides. A carefully coordinated set of diplomatic initiatives was announced simultaneously on January 30, 1999:

NATO issued a statement announcing that it was prepared to launch air strikes against Yugoslav targets "to compel compliance with the demands of the international community and [to achieve] a political settlement". While this was most obviously a threat to the Milošević government, it also included a coded threat to the Albanians: any decision would depend on the "position and actions of the Kosovo Albanian leadership and all Kosovo Albanian armed elements in and around Kosovo."


Analysis

A Tyrant can’t exist without some sort of military support. Usually that support is from the nation’s military but not always. The Tyrant is expected to be a strong leader. An air war is the most effective way to remove a tyrant because it makes the tyrant look weak. There are always going to be ways to attack a force that is on the ground but a force with total air superiority can attack with impunity. Since there are few civilian casualties, they won’t rally around the Tyrant and his weakness will encourage them to either revolt or demonstrate. Which makes the Tyrant look even weaker. And the casualties among the Tyrant’s biggest supporters make the opposition stronger.

Since there aren’t troops on the ground, there isn’t an invasion and there aren’t any requirements to manage the country. That empowers the people of the nation to handle their own affairs. It’s fortunate Obama has learned the lessons of history (at least of Bush Sr. and Clinton) and is using military force the proper way. I am not worried about an American presence in Libya because no American soldier will step on Libyan soil. This is the right way to intervene.
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Morgan Dontanville
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Here we are folks, the dream we all dream of.
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...the aristocrats!
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lotus dweller
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Its also worth remembering the huge benefits obtained by having troops on the ground in Germany and Japan at fin WWII.
There are times when troops on the ground have produced stable vibrant friendly economically successful trading partners and allies. And stabilised vast geo-political regions. As in Europe and East Asia.
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Ben Foy
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Pinook wrote:
Its also worth remembering the huge benefits obtained by having troops on the ground in Germany and Japan at fin WWII.
There are times when troops on the ground have produced stable vibrant friendly economically successful trading partners and allies. And stabilised vast geo-political regions. As in Europe and East Asia.


That only happens when the people who live in those countries accept the presence of foreign troops. Japan was nuked twice and Germany was carpet bombed before they acquiesced. The Marshall Plan gained us long term support for troops and the people of both countries were ashamed of past behavior. You are correct that ground troops are sometimes necessary but landing ground troops carries a lot of risk.
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Rich S
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Pinook wrote:
Its also worth remembering the huge benefits obtained by having troops on the ground in Germany and Japan at fin WWII.
There are times when troops on the ground have produced stable vibrant friendly economically successful trading partners and allies. And stabilised vast geo-political regions. As in Europe and East Asia.


Very true but I think Japan was more the exception than the rule. Their culture required them to honorably submit to surrender. The Germans were defeated mentally as well as militarily. But more often than not, the home population is going to keep fighting invading forces whether their government agrees with it or not.
 
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lotus dweller
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phosrik wrote:
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Very true but I think Japan was more the exception than the rule. Their culture required them to honorably submit to surrender. The Germans were defeated mentally as well as militarily. But more often than not, the home population is going to keep fighting invading forces whether their government agrees with it or not.
We have very different memories of what WWII Japanese culture required them to do in defeat.
They tortured and worked many captive POWs to death on the grounds that capture and defeat was a great disgrace and involved total lack of honour.

If that had not been convienient bullshit then at least all their defense forces would have slit their own bellies open when surrender was announced.

And we only lost some 100,000. Occupied countries lost millions of people.
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