The American Use of Military Force Since the Fall of the Berlin Wall
When the Berlin Wall came down in 1989 there were hopes for a peaceful new world order and even predictions of the end of history. As it turned out, the United States has sent major military forces into action nine times in the 19 years since then. Two major conflicts are continuing today in Afghanistan and Iraq. Admiral Blair will address how the United States has used military force in recent years, successfully and unsuccessfully, and how to think about what the country should do in Afghanistan and Iraq. Co-sponsored by the department of political science.
Issue in Context
The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 marked the end of nearly a half-century of Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. The United States emerged victorious, affirming its superiority in the international arena. President H. W. Bush declared grand expectations for a “new world order” – the United States would finally be able to fulfill its founding fathers’ visions of freedom. There were widespread hopes for global peace. However, this peace proved difficult to maintain. Conflicts resurfaced, and the United States intervened in a number of armed conflicts overseas.
Highlights of U.S. Foreign Policy since 1989:
August 2, 1990 – Iraq invades Kuwait and the U.S. decides to send military troops to protect Saudi Arabia and oust Iraqi troops from Kuwait. Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein refuses to abide by international demands to withdraw, and the United Nations authorizes a U.S.-led invasion to crush the Iraqi military.
March 1992 – the United States intervenes in the humanitarian crisis in the “failed state” of Somalia. Clinton withdraws due to civil unrest and American casualties. Partly as a result of this failure, the U.S. avoids intervening in the genocides in Rwanda and Burundi.
In 1995 and 1999, respectively, the U.S. intervenes in Bosnia Herzegovina and Kosovo to address the “ethnic cleansing” in the former republic of Yugoslavia.
Throughout the 1990’s – numerous terrorist attacks with suspected involvement of Al-Qaeda: 1993 World Trade Center bombings; 1995 car bombings in Oklahoma City; 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya; 2000 bombings on the USS Cole in Yemen.
September 11, 2001- -terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. President Bush declares the “Bush Doctrine” for national security based on preemption, hegemony, and unilateralism. The U.S. declares the “War on Terror” and invades Afghanistan.
March 20, 2003, Bush orders an invasion of Iraq based upon allegations that Saddam Hussein had Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD’s) and links to Islamic terrorism.
About the Speaker
Admiral Dennis Blair is the former commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) in the Asia-Pacific Region. From February 1999 to May 2002 he was responsible for the Navy, Army, Marine Corps and Air Force, leading the largest unified command from India to the West Coast of the United States.
Blair was senior fellow and president of the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) from October 2002 to September 2006. The IDA provides research and analytical support on national security issues to the Department of Defense and other federal agencies. Blair also served in policy positions on Navy Staffs, the Joint Staff, and the National Security Council staff. He was the first associate director of Central Intelligence for Military Support.
A 1968 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Admiral Blair earned a master’s degree in history and languages from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. He was awarded the Defense Distinguished Service Medal four times and the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal twice.
Recently, the U.S. Army War College and Dickinson College awarded him the Omar Bradley Chair of Strategic Leadership. The Omar Bradley Chair was named in memory of the World War II hero and is intended to encourage global leadership and civilian-military dialogue.