When and how should a country take military action?

uk 75

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As the NATO operation in Afghanistan goes the way of South Vietnam the time has come for countries from the USA to New Zealand to consider when and how they should take military action.
At first sight this is quite simple. A country takes military action to defend itself and its allies from an outside attack.
But that was the basis after 9/11 for the initial US action in Afghanistan. It was a clear and precise response.
But much in the same way as the disputed N Vietnamese attack on US warships in Gulf of Tonkin led to US Marines wading ashore and beginning the long misery of that war, the defeat of the Taliban in 2001 was the beginning not the end.
But US military presence has also contributed to success stories. Its continuation to the present day ensured that Western Europe and South Korea have become and remain peaceful and prosperous.
Back in the 1950s this was far from certain. Western Europe remained weak and divided by memories of WW2. Its democracies were fragile and we now know were a lot more corrupt than they cared to admit. The Korean War had been fought to a standstill and the regime in Seoul was corrupt and dictatorial.
So you cannot be sure when you start something how it will finish.
 

zen

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Well it's a matter of cost/benefit isn't it.
And ultimately all war is 'in the mind' and a psychical means of changing anothers behaviour.

So true mastery is getting the other to change their behaviour to what you want, without having to use force.
The secondary solution is to induce by strategy, such a change.
The third is to position tactically to enforce that change.
And fourthly and worste option is to use that force, to make that change.

So getting to 5 , using force and failing.....is a bad sign the investment was never worth the reward....or you're just good at war.

What is the enemy of victory must surely be self delusion.
 
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edwest2

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There was no South Vietnam when the U.S. Marines were sent in. At the time, the U.S. Government told the people that was done to prevent "the domino effect." In other words, we could not allow Vietnam to go Communist because the effect would be that other nearby countries would go Communist. The given reason for the Vietnam War was the "Gulf of Tonkin" incident. And why were U.S. warships there in the first place? Why were U.S. "advisers" in Vietnam just prior to the war?

In Korea, Russian advisers ended up controlling part of the war for the north. They flew MiGs in combat. And why was anyone in Korea? The American people were told it was a "police action." The war was not fought to a standstill. An armistice was declared and Korea was divided. Technically, the war is still on.

Today, U.S. military doctrine is called "low-intensity warfare," meaning anything short of nuclear war. There was no "winning" in Afghanistan. The Russians were there before us, stayed for a while and then pulled out.
 

sferrin

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"Why did we launch a pre-emptive global war? Because the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from the adversary nation gave us a call and said that his President was nutty and was going to launch a pre-emptive strike of his own."
You can't make this stuff up.
 

Justo Miranda

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Some governments build a gigantic industrial organization that needs more and more resources and in the end they cannot stop the machine.

After the abolition of feudalism in 1871, Japan hastened to create an industrial monster that quickly exceeded the very few natural resources of the country. The inertia generated by the machines dragged the Japanese into a militaristic spiral that only a major defeat could stop.

In 1895 they annexed Taiwan, in 1905 they defeated Russia and in 1910 they invaded Korea to seize large amounts of coal. To save Japan from the effects of the Great Depression the Imperial Japanese Army occupied Manchuria in 1931, giving the Japanese industry access to its numerous natural resources of iron, aluminum, coking coal, soybeans and salt.

In 1933 Japan occupied the Chinese province of Jehol and initiated a large-scale warfare in 1937 that alarmed the international community. Following the clash with the Soviets in Nomonhan, Japan lost access to oil concessions from Northern Sakhalin.

When France capitulated in June 1940, Japan moved into Northern French Indochina and the U.S. Administration reacted by banning the export of essential defense materials: aviation motors, high-octane aviation fuel, lubricants, iron and steel scrap. The embargo was expanded in July 1941 to all grades of oil and the British and the Dutch followed suit, embargoing exports of copper, tin, bauxite, rubber and petroleum to Japan from their colonies in Southern Asia. The Allies were putting Japan in an untenable position that would force oil-starved Japan to seize the oil fields of the Dutch East Indies.

When an army is too large it is necessary to keep it busy and it is always possible to find an enemy by pressing a little. Both Alexander and Bonaparte had too many soldiers and undertook useless military adventures to lose them along the way.
 

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riggerrob

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Part of the question is whether nations should act purely in defense - within their own borders - or launch pre-emptive strikes outside their borders.

Defending your own land is difficult, because fortifications can be frightfully expensive and it is difficult to to predict when neighboring nations will attack. See Maginot Line. At best, entrenched defenders enjoy a 3 to 1 advantage over attackers. At worst the border is defended with millions of landmines, barbed wire, tanks, guns, soldiers, aircraft, etc. (see Korea or Golan Heights) rendering that land useless for farming.

Then we get into arguments over where borders are. Some borders have three or more definitions. Just look at how native land claims in British Columbia equal 300 percent of the land mass because various tribes migrated seasonally and some occupied the land of another tribe when the second tribe was decimated by small pox, etc. This becomes especially difficult at sea. Witness how foreign ships trawled all the fish off of Newfoundland's Grand Banks, or the Cod Wars when Iceland tried to prevent British ships from fishing in their waters to the current problems caused by Communist Chinese ships fishing thousands of miles from their coastline.

In the case of pre-emptive strikes: we seen numerous PE strikes by Israel because their country so small that any major armored force could drive completely across the country in a matter of hours.
 

Justo Miranda

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In ancient times rulers had to choose between using all available men for agriculture or for war. Now men are of little use to either. Is it something we should be happy or worried about?
 

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