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Intervention: The Use of American Military Force in the Post-Cold War World

Intervention: The Use of American Military Force in the Post-Cold War World

by Richard N. Haass

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Intervention provides political and military guidelines for potential U.S. military interventions ranging from peacekeeping to warfare.


Intervention provides political and military guidelines for potential U.S. military interventions ranging from peacekeeping to warfare.

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Brookings Institution Press
Publication date:
Edition description:
Older Edition
Product dimensions:
6.03(w) x 8.93(h) x 0.70(d)

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Chapter One


No public policy issue is more controversial than the use of military force. As U.S. experience in Somalia and Bosnia in the early 1990s showed, it matters not whether we choose to intervene or stay aloof; the debate can be equally heated.

    Such controversy is hardly new. Debates raged over U.S. entry into both world wars as well as over the conflicts in Korea and Vietnam. Questions of when, where, and how to intervene with military force inevitably raise basic questions of what our interests are in the world and what we are prepared to do on their behalf. Moreover, the use of military force is unlike most other forms of intervention, such as diplomacy, broadcasts, investment, or sanctions. It involves the immediate risk to life of everyone involved in the operation.

    It is somewhat surprising, though, that the debate is taking place now, and with such intensity. There were grounds for supposing that the end of the Cold War would usher in a period of international relations in which political and military competition would diminish and the need to use force abroad would decline. By the onset of the 1990s, it looked as though a world was emerging in which democratic and market-oriented governments would dominate, in which age-old conflicts were being solved, and in which the United Nations was finally beginning to resemble the institution desired by its founders. The Soviet Union and later Russia were working with the United States to manage conflicts; gone were the days when Moscow provided material and diplomatic backingforits clients while casting vetoes in the Security Council to frustrate Western initiatives. Neither Russia nor anyone else was able or willing to compete with the United States in the political-military realm on a global scale. It thus became possible for the Bush Administration to speak of building a new world order in which states did not threaten or use force to settle disputes and governments embraced democracy, human rights, and liberal economic policies.

    Things have turned out differently—very differently. To be sure, there are positive developments, including movement toward rapprochement in the Middle East, Cambodia, and South Africa, as well as considerable peace and prosperity in Latin America and East Asia. But there are many undesirable developments, including war in the Persian Gulf, continuing violence in Bosnia, a variety of humanitarian nightmares in Africa, and growing tensions on the Korean Peninsula. On balance, the post-Cold War world promises to be a messy one where violence is common, where conflicts within and between nation-states abound, and where the question of U.S. military intervention becomes more rather than less commonplace and more rather than less complicated.


The explanation for why there has been such violence, and why there could be even more in the future, is largely to be found in the nature of the Cold War and the effects of its passing. The Cold War, for all its risks and costs, and despite the reality of proxy wars and the potential for global holocaust, was not without its stabilizing aspects. "Duopolies," or systems based upon two poles, are simpler and easier to manage than those with multiple decision-making centers. Also, the Cold War was unique in that the fear of escalation to global nuclear war was an inhibiting factor for both superpowers. Rules of the road evolved that limited the direct use of force by both countries—not only in Europe, but also in regional conflicts anywhere, lest they create circumstances where direct confrontation between them could arise. These rules also placed limits on what either superpower could safely do in situations where the other had clear stakes. In the U.S.-Soviet relationship, competition was structured and circumscribed, formally in the case of arms control, informally in the case of regional competition.

    The end of the Cold War has altered much of this. First, the splitting up of blocs has resulted in a loss of political control. Decentralized decision-making and the diffusion of political authority increase rather than decrease the potential for international challenges and crises. It is unlikely, for example, that during the Cold War Iraq would have been left free by the Soviet Union, a principal source of its arms, to invade a country in a region known to be vital to the United States and the West. Similarly, it is far from certain that either China or Russia has the ability to persuade North Korea to forego the development of nuclear weapons, something that could set it on a collision course with the United States.

    Second, with the relaxation of external threats and alliance systems, and the erosion of both empires and multinational states, nationalism has entered a new phase. Movements are defined more by ethnicity than by political ideology or territory, as various groups turn their energies inward, against populations within their borders. Such struggles are fast becoming commonplace. As Daniel Patrick Moynihan noted in a recent book, "Ethnic conflict does not require great differences; small will do." The end to Europe's division and the demise of the Warsaw Pact provided an opportunity for Yugoslavs to redress long-held grievances. Similar "sorting out" of ethnic, political, and geographic questions can be seen in the former Soviet empire. The consequence is not only cross-border conflict, but also conflicts within former states or parts of them (often themselves new states), frequently resulting in massive flows of refugees and human suffering on a major scale.

    Third, and closely related, is the revival of what might be called traditional great power politics. The world may not divide along an East-West axis, but powerful states in several regions have the ability to challenge the United States. Traditional friends and allies have demonstrated a greater willingness to stake out positions supportive of narrow national interests. More important, former adversaries are not necessarily assured partners. Russia and China have demonstrated a willingness and ability to conduct policies that run contrary to U.S. efforts and objectives. While these countries no longer reflexively take an opposing view to U.S. positions, they still are engaged in power politics, pursuing their national interests as shaped by history, geography, culture, economics, and domestic politics.

    Fourth, there is a relative weakening of the nation-state. Orwell's image of a future in which technology strengthened the organs of the state and its capacity to control its citizenry could not have been more wrong. Technology—television, computers, telephones, fax machines—increases the scope and impact of communications across state borders, making it much more difficult for governments to control what their citizens know and what others know about them. Moreover, the state is getting buffeted from "above" (from regional organizations, a stronger U.N. Security Council, a demanding International Monetary Fund) and from "below" (from nongovernmental organizations, corporations, and private individuals). These trends contribute to the difficulty and at times inability of existing governments to contend with challenges to their authority.

    Fifth, the spread of advanced conventional and unconventional military technologies—chemical, biological, and nuclear, as well as the ballistic missiles to deliver them—is creating new instabilities. Those who possess unconventional weapons may be tempted to use them. Those who do not possess them, or those who see themselves as especially vulnerable to unconventional warfare, may be tempted to act against these capabilities before they can be fully deployed or employed by adversaries. Thus, there is not only a diffusion of political power, but a corresponding diffusion of military power—with greater potential for devastation if order breaks down.

    As a result of these developments, we are now living in a period of history that can be characterized as one of "international deregulation." There are new players, new capabilities, and new alignments, but as of yet, no new rules. As with almost any kind of deregulation, there are winners and losers. The result is a large number of new (if smaller) states and ethnic groups engaged in a seemingly endless struggle of competitive self-determination within and across boundaries. At the same time, the traditional sources of inter-state threats to peace continue to exist, except that they now have the potential to lead to conflicts much more violent in character.


The changes intrinsic to the post-Cold War world have created new, intense conflicts that complicate any prospective use of force by the United States. On the other hand, a number of political and technological developments enhance opportunities for the United States to use its military might effectively. The erosion of blocs and alliances makes it easier (in the political sense) to use force against individual states. There is little fear of direct conflict with another superpower growing out of a local confrontation with a third state, and less danger that a great power rival will furnish political, economic, and military support to a client embroiled with the United States. The Bush Administration could make decisions about how to employ force against Iraq with far more latitude than earlier administrations enjoyed in regard to how Moscow and Beijing might react to possible escalations against North Korea or North Vietnam.

    The Gulf War revealed that emerging technologies, in particular precision-guided munitions (PGMs), are creating new, more discrete opportunities for the United States to act militarily. Far fewer munitions can be used with equal or greater impact. The chance of unwanted (collateral) damage is less. Other technologies provide greater confidence of access to the airspace of another country at lower levels of vulnerability. Improvements in still other areas (from communications to intelligence) can enhance opportunities to use force effectively on modern battlefields.

    But if there are new reasons as well as new opportunities for the United States to use force, there are no longer any clear guidelines for when and how to do it. The concept of "containment" provided some reference points for when force should be used. As George Kennan originally used it, "the main element of any United States policy toward the Soviet Union must be that of a long-term, patient but vigilant containment of Russian expansive tendencies ... designed to present the Russians with unalterable counter-force at every point where they show signs of encroaching upon the interests of a peaceful and stable world." Korea and Vietnam were the hallmarks of this era. Related calculations also affected how force should be used; indeed, an entire literature emerged about using force to signal adversaries of U.S. determination while also communicating a sense of limits, in order not to risk escalation to direct confrontation (and, with it, the danger of global nuclear war) with a rival superpower.

    By contrast, in the foreseeable future, no single overarching foreign policy doctrine or touchstone is likely to command widespread popular and elite support. This is not for lack of imagination; rather it is an inevitable reflection of a more complicated world characterized by a diffusion of economic, political, and military power and relationships that resist easy or permanent categorization. In such a world, no intellectual edifice is likely to emerge that will suggest how specific local events are to be viewed and what the United States should do about them. Decision-making on a case-by-case basis—resembling debates during the pre-Cold War period—is all but unavoidable.

    But the problem confronting the United States is not just intellectual; it is also political. There is a strong sense in the country that domestic needs must come first and that the time has come for America to spend its peace dividend at home. With common definitions of national interest more elusive than ever, and with the external threat reduced in scale, building political consensus—both inside and outside the executive branch—around specific foreign policies is more difficult. At the same time, Congress not only remains highly assertive but is increasingly decentralized as an institution and hence more difficult to work with. Foreign policymaking is complicated further by the participation of individuals and groups holding very different views of U.S. priorities. All this is taking place in a context of heightened media scrutiny and coverage. The net result is that policymakers have less latitude to pursue policies that are controversial, uncertain in outcome, and potentially expensive, as military interventions tend to be.

    One should not exaggerate the relative simplicity or "clarity" of the Cold War. The debates over U.S. policy in Korea and Vietnam revealed no agreement over how the doctrine of containment should be translated into specific policies. Prior to North Korea's invasion of its southern neighbor, there was little consensus that South Korea's independence constituted a vital U.S. interest; during the course of the war, especially after the massive Chinese intervention in late 1950, the debate over the limited nature of the U.S. strategy, designed to avoid engaging directly either China or the Soviet Union, was bitter.

    The same was true for Vietnam. One view held that any use of force by the United States was unwise, that containment did not apply because what was at issue was less Soviet or Chinese expansion than local nationalism. Another view, found both in and out of government, disagreed not with the use of force per se but with how it was used, claiming that policies of gradualism and self-imposed limits should be jettisoned in favor of much more aggressive attacks on North Vietnam and neighboring sanctuaries.

    Nevertheless, today's political environment is significantly different and, in important ways, more complex. All this creates opportunities for—and places special pressures and constraints on—the United States, the world's most powerful actor, arguably its only superpower. Liberated from the danger that military action will lead to confrontation with a rival superpower, the United States is now more free to intervene. Moreover, only the United States possesses the means to intervene decisively in many situations, in particular those that are more demanding militarily. Yet U.S. means are necessarily limited; there will always be more interests to protect than resources to protect them. The United States can do anything, just not everything. The need to choose remains inescapable. Questions of whether to intervene, as well as how, remain central.

    Intervening too often poses an obvious danger. Any government indulging in what might be described as wanton uses of force would be guilty of acting irresponsibly, particularly toward those in uniform. Military intervention in any form is expensive. There is also the risk that indiscriminate intervention would leave the United States ill-prepared to meet inevitable contingencies; we cannot act in too many places at once. In addition, if an intervention fares poorly, or becomes a "quagmire," Americans could sour on their world role, triggering a renewed bout of isolationism at home and leaving the country ill-prepared to use force when it is really necessary. As James Schlesinger has pointed out, "America must be selective in its actions. It cannot take on all the world's troubles. The public will soon grow weary if this country takes on the role of world policeman, or world nanny, or international Don Quixote."

    At the same time, setting too high a bar against intervention has costs as well. Defining interests too narrowly or prerequisites for employing force too broadly would be tantamount to adopting a policy of isolationism. U.S. unwillingness to use force abroad could encourage mayhem overseas by those free of such qualms and accelerate arms proliferation, both by those who count on the United States and those who oppose it. The United States would forfeit opportunities to affect world conditions and its interests for the better. In addition, unwillingness to intervene when it was warranted would prompt the American public to question the worth of funding and maintaining a modern military establishment.

    The obvious challenge is how to get it just right. Every situation will pose a challenge. There will be no universal answer to the question of whether to intervene, and no answer will satisfy everybody in particular instances.


Philosophers, scholars, practitioners, and journalists all have written and spoken about the subject of military intervention. For hundreds of years, experts have debated the political and legal grounds for going to war (jus ad bellum) as well as appropriate means of conducting wars (jus in bello). Much of what appears in today's newspapers and academic journals can be traced back at least in part to what someone wrote centuries ago. More important, today's debate is affected by these earlier contributions.

    Christian "just war" theory, as first articulated by St. Augustine and as elaborated by Thomas Aquinas and others, dominated Western thought for centuries and provides a reference point for anyone speaking or writing on this subject. Wars are considered to be just if they are fought for a worthy cause, likely to achieve it, sponsored by a legitimate authority, undertaken as a last resort, and conducted in a way that uses no more force than is necessary or proportionate and that respects the welfare of non-combatants. Such thinking continues to enjoy authority far beyond the confines of the Church. The overall effect of this body of thought is to make it more difficult politically to go to war and more difficult militarily to fight one.

    A second influence on contemporary thinking are the jurists and legal scholars of the previous three centuries. Writing parallel to the emergence and operation of the modern system of nation-states, they repudiated the amorality of Machiavelli and Hobbes, who tended to see war as inevitable and the decision to wage war for a wide range of purposes as an appropriate tool of statecraft. At the same time, these jurists were not content with the Church's approach to the just war, which they saw as too broad and too easily abused by allegedly legitimate authorities pursuing illegitimate ends.

    "No other just cause for undertaking war can there be excepting injury received," wrote Hugo Grotius, arguably the most influential jurist to write on the subject. Unlike the many thinkers who focused on refining the conduct of war, and unlike individuals such as Immanuel Kant who were dedicated to the more radical aim of abolishing war, Grotius sought to narrow the grounds under which force might be used legally by sovereign states. As such, he and others in the same tradition (notably Emmerich de Vattel in the eighteenth century) are fathers of one of the basic tenets of modern legal thinking and international relations, the right of self-defense, enshrined in the charters of both the League of Nations and the United Nations. The net impact of their work, like that of the principal religious scholars, has been to strengthen political and legal norms against the use of military force for purposes other than self-defense in relations between sovereign states.

    A third source of ideas affecting today's debate over intervention are the major strategists: Napoleon, Jomini, Clausewitz, Mahan, Hart, Fuller, Douhet, Mitchell, and others. With one principal exception—in the well-known words of Clausewitz, "war is not a mere act of a policy but a true political instrument, a continuation of political activity by other means"—their focus is more military than political, addressing how (as opposed to whether) to use force.

    Many of their fundamental ideas are familiar and continue to inform current military thinking. For example, a recent U.S. Army field manual lists nine principles of war—the importance of clear and attainable objectives, seizing and maintaining the initiative, massing one's combat power at decisive places and moments, employing one's forces to maximize economy, exploiting maneuver, unifying command, denying the enemy unexpected advantage through surprise, exploiting surprise oneself, and assuring simplicity in plans—all of which can be found in the classical literature. Consistent with this body of writing, the Army's focus is on how to use the military instrument; the question of whether to use it, in contrast to doing something else or nothing at all, is largely left to others to consider and decide.

    A fourth influence on today's thinking stems from work done primarily in the United States and Great Britain in the 1950s and 1960s. A number of defense thinkers, notably Henry Kissinger, Bernard Brodie, Morton Halperin, Thomas Schelling, and Robert Osgood, developed a literature devoted to war that was limited, in the words of Bernard Brodie, by "deliberate constraint." Although the concept of limited war was not new—it was discussed at length by the traditional strategists and others and was implicit in the notion that war as an instrument of policy must be subservient to politics—analysts in the early years of the Cold War were motivated not simply by the primacy of politics but by the consequences of the nuclear revolution.

    The premise of this body of work was that in the Cold War, with its inherent danger of escalation to nuclear exchanges on a global scale, the United States did not have the luxury to follow the optimal "all out" approaches articulated by the classical strategists. Instead, it was argued that the United States needed to develop doctrine and forces that would enable limited uses of conventional military force. In this view, the doctrine of massive retaliation, a theory designed by the Eisenhower Administration to avoid future Korean War—like scenarios by threatening large-scale nuclear attacks to deter local non-nuclear challenges to U.S. interests, lacked credibility since the United States was in turn vulnerable to Soviet and Chinese nuclear attacks. In the writings of these academics, wars could and should be limited by the means employed, the goals, and/or the locale. Schelling in particular placed great emphasis on graduated or controlled escalation, a form of tacit bargaining based on the notion that, in the nuclear age, great power adversaries still shared an interest in avoiding escalation—an interest that motivated them to act with restraint. Military forces thus became instruments of communication as much as destruction.

    Vietnam provided a real-world laboratory for these views. Indeed, Vietnam and its "lessons" retain a powerful grip on how many Americans think about limited wars. But just as there is still no consensus about the Vietnam War itself, there is no consensus about what it purports to teach. The Vietnam experience has led some to believe that any foreign engagement will result in a quagmire and therefore ought to be avoided. Others conclude that we should not shy away from involvement and, more important, that any involvement should be carried out "without limits." Still others argue that Vietnam has no necessary lessons for today given all that is different in the world, and that it can be in the U.S. national interest to fight wars with limited means for limited ends.

    "Humanitarian intervention," the notion that outside parties have the right or even obligation to intervene to help peoples vis-à-vis their own governments or one another, represents a fifth influence on the contemporary debate over U.S. military intervention. This concept comes from a change in thinking that has created new pressures for the United States to use military force abroad to alter the domestic policies or change the leadership of other countries. It reflects the emergence of a new perspective about the inviolability of state sovereignty.

    For the past several centuries, international law and most international relations theory was based on the premise that what takes place within the boundaries of a state is nobody else's business, and that for one state to insert itself into the internal affairs of another is a hostile act. This tenet of modern international society is designed to make inter-state violence less frequent. This thinking is enshrined in the United Nations Charter, which states, in Article 2 (4), that "All members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations." This bias is reinforced in Article 2 (7), which states that "Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state...."

    One long-standing exception to this essentially unconstrained view of sovereign rights was put forward by John Stuart Mill. Widely if not universally accepted, Mill held that intervention by one state against another was permissible to help the people of a state throw off a foreign yoke. In short, counter-intervention was sanctioned. But Mill was careful to avoid advocating intervention in the absence of such provocation because it could lead to wars among the powers of the day and in any event would do little or no good as a people could not be saved from themselves.

    Today this highly circumscribed view of when external intervention is warranted in response to the internal situation of another state is giving way to a more expansive notion of humanitarian intervention. Although the change can be traced back decades to the U.N. Declaration on Human Rights and to the provisions of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), both of which acknowledged human rights the state could not legally abridge, the new perspective has gained support in recent years. Today's critique is that intervention, including military intervention by outsiders, is legitimate and even necessary when a government severely represses the human rights of its own people or when the erosion of central governmental authority creates conditions in which innocent people are made vulnerable. Typical is the position endorsed by American Catholic Bishops in late 1993: "... the principles of sovereignty and nonintervention may be overridden by forceful means in exceptional circumstances, notably in the cases of genocide or when whole populations are threatened by aggression or anarchy." It is now widely held that the international community was wrong in not doing more to thwart the efforts of Hitler in Germany or Pol Pot in Cambodia, who by their behavior forfeited the normal benefits and protection of sovereignty, and that it was right in intervening on behalf of Iraq's Kurds in 1991 and in Somalia in 1992.


The contemporary debate over military intervention is especially influenced by the many practitioners with experience in the executive or legislative branches. A number of prominent public figures—Caspar Weinberger, Gary Hart, George Shultz, Les Aspin, Colin Powell, George Bush, Bill Clinton, Madeleine Albright, Warren Christopher, William Perry—have expressed views on the question of when and how to use (or not use) force. Weinberger and Hart made their views known while the Cold War was still under way; others have done so since the Cold War's end. But all are of value, for they are the signposts informing the current debate and, in any case, what has stayed the same outweighs what has changed.

    The most influential views, possibly because they were the first in the post-Vietnam era, were the guidelines articulated publicly in November 1984 by then-Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger. Weinberger posited six conditions that must be met before the United States commits its forces abroad. Three relate to whether force should be used: interests vital to the national interest of the United States or an ally must be at stake; there must be some reasonable assurance of congressional and popular support for the intervention; and the commitment of U.S. forces to combat should come only as a last resort. Weinberger's second three conditions relate to how force should be used: the United States should commit to force only if it is prepared to do so wholeheartedly and with the clear intention of winning; force should only be deployed on behalf of clearly defined objectives; and the size, composition, and disposition of the forces should be continually reassessed and where necessary adjusted as conditions change.

    Some eighteen months later, U.S. Senator Gary Hart put forward a similar list, which reflected the defense reform debate of the time and thus included some guidelines for employing force, such as a need for agreed command structure among the armed forces and operational simplicity and feasibility. Like Weinberger's, Hart's guidelines, written in the aftermath of the Beirut tragedy and in the more distant shadow of Vietnam, had the intent (or at least the effect) of erecting tall barriers to the use of military force.

    In the aftermath of the Persian Gulf War and amidst the debates over Bosnia and Somalia, others joined the debate. In his capacity as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Colin Powell discussed six questions that must be addressed before any decision or commitment to intervene is made: Is the political objective important, clearly defined, and understood? Have all other non-violent policy means failed? Will military force achieve the objective? What will the cost be? Have the gains and risks been analyzed? Once the situation is altered by force, how will it develop further and what will the consequences be? Powell emphasized the third concern, that is, determining beforehand that the use of military force is matched carefully to political objectives. Similarly, he has gone on record as being uncomfortable with policy that emphasizes keeping involvement limited rather than achieving a specific outcome. If force is to be used, he favors using it overwhelmingly to accomplish the mission.

    In fall 1992, before becoming Secretary of Defense, Chairman of the House Committee on Armed Services Les Aspin summarized his perception of the four critical elements of Powell's and the military's approach to using force: that force must be a last resort, that it must be used for clear purposes, that there must be a basis for withdrawal, and that it must be used in an overwhelming manner. Aspin then went on to take issue with this approach, characterizing it as an "all or nothing" school that would sharply curtail the use of military force for foreign policy purposes. Instead, he leaned toward what he described as a "limited objectives" school, one that supports more expansive use of military force by the United States for political purposes.

    Aspin did not agree that limited uses of force create pressures for escalation and continued involvement. He argued instead that the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War enable the United States to use limited force for limited purposes. Even if the desired purpose is not achieved, the United States can "walk away" (thereby avoiding escalation and possible quagmire) with little or no adverse consequences beyond the immediate situation. In addition, he argued that new technologies make it possible in some circumstances for the United States to use compellent force, that is, to strike targets in one place (say, the capital city of an adversary) to influence behavior elsewhere (on a battlefield, for example). In particular, he cited the emergence of precision-guided munitions as an important development that allows strikes to be carried out with minimal risk to U.S. forces and with minimum collateral damage. In Aspin's views, these twin developments—the end of the Cold War and the emergence of smart munitions—increase the scope for limited uses of military force for political purposes.

    George Bush articulated his views on the use of military force in the waning days of his presidency. Against the backdrop of decisions to intervene militarily in Somalia and to avoid intervention in Bosnia, Bush argued for a case-by-case approach in deciding when and where to use force. He argued against using interests as an absolute guide, noting that "military force may not be the best way of safeguarding something vital, while using force might be the best way to protect an interest that qualifies as important but less than vital." Instead, Bush set out five requirements for military intervention to make sense: force should only be used, he said, where the stakes warrant it, where and when it can be effective, where no other policies are likely to prove effective, where its application can be limited in scope and time, and where the potential benefits justify the potential costs and sacrifice. Multilateral support is desirable but not essential. What is essential in every case is a clear and achievable mission, a realistic plan for accomplishing the mission, and realistic criteria for withdrawing U.S. forces once the mission is complete.

    More recent contributions to this debate have been provided by several senior members of the Clinton Administration, including the President himself. Secretary of State Warren Christopher, testifying in April 1993 before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, provided four prerequisites for the use of military force by the United States: clearly articulated objectives, probable success, likelihood of popular and congressional support, and a clear exit strategy. Unlike the views of Congressman Aspin, but more similar to both Powell and Bush, Christopher was marshalling arguments that weighed against direct U.S. military intervention in Bosnia.

    Most Clinton Administration pronouncements on the use of force have been concerned with U.S. support for or involvement in multilateral military efforts. In September 1993, for example, Madeleine Albright, the Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations, put forward a series of questions that need to be addressed before the United States would support U.N. peacekeeping operations. She listed five questions: Is there a real threat to international peace and security? Does the proposed mission have clear objectives and can its scope be clearly defined? Is a cease-fire in place, and have the parties to the conflict agreed to a U.N. presence? Are the financial resources needed to accomplish the mission available? And can an end point to U.N. participation be identified?

    Just four days later, President Clinton used the occasion of his annual address to the U.N. General Assembly to restate these questions, making clear that his purpose was to make it harder for the world body to launch such efforts. "The United Nations simply cannot become engaged in every one of the world's conflicts. If the American people are to say yes to U.N. peacekeeping, the United Nations must know when to say no." And by May 1994, when the Administration issued its policy statement on "multilateral peace operations," the number of criteria that had to be met or considered had grown to eight in the case of U.N. operations for which the United States was asked to vote, fourteen if the United States was expected to participate in peaceful operations, and seventeen if U.S. participation was likely to involve combat.

    These pronouncements and documents have all affected current thinking about the use of military force; however, none is adequate. Each was shaped in part by recent or ongoing conflicts and political contexts in which policymakers sought to justify policies of intervention or non-intervention.

    We now have new and more recent experience with military intervention, acting alone or in concert with others. Some of this experience is in "traditional" ways of resisting aggression by one state against another; some involves the more modern form of humanitarian intervention. This experience needs to be incorporated—or at least taken into account—in our thinking. It appears we cannot get away from the dilemmas of limited war, whether the limits are of means, ends, or both. The post-Cold War world requires its own consideration of military intervention, one that reflects the political and technological characteristics of this period in history.

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