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military intervention is often counterproductive even if one accepts U. The same countries tend to reappear again and again on the list of 20th century interventions. Take the list of current regimes most singled out for U. attack, and put it alongside of the list of regimes that have had the longest hold on power, and you will find they have the same names. One of the most dangerous ideas of the 20th century was that “people like us” could not commit atrocities against civilians. Rather than solving the root political or economic roots of the conflict, it tends to polarize factions and further destabilize the country. demonization of an enemy leader, or military action against him, tends to strengthen rather than weaken his hold on power. After the 2001 terror attacks on the United States, the U. military is poised to again bomb Afghanistan, and possibly move against other states it accuses of promoting anti-U. Afghanistan, like Yugoslavia, is a multiethnic state that could easily break apart in a new catastrophic regional war. Yet the military tactics employed often left behind massive civilian “collateral damage.” War planners made little distinction between rebels and the civilians who lived in rebel zones of control, or between military assets and civilian infrastructure, such as train lines, water plants, agricultural factories, medicine supplies, etc. Yet when the inevitable civilian deaths occur, they are always explained away as “accidental” or “unavoidable.” Second, although nearly all the post-World War II interventions were carried out in the name of “freedom” and “democracy,” nearly all of them in fact defended dictatorships controlled by pro-U. Such a campaign will certainly ratchet up the cycle of violence, in an escalating series of retaliations that is the hallmark of Middle East conflicts. public as defending the lives and rights of civilian populations. public always believe that in the next war, new military technologies will avoid civilian casualties on the other side. Whether in Vietnam, Central America, or the Persian Gulf, the U. was not defending “freedom” but an ideological agenda (such as defending capitalism) or an economic agenda (such as protecting oil company investments). All these interventions directly served corporate interests, and many resulted in massive losses of civilians, rebels, and soldiers.

military led a series of what it termed “humanitarian interventions” it claimed would safeguard civilians. forces took the side of one faction against another faction, and bombed a Mogadishu neighborhood. Other so-called “humanitarian interventions” were centered in the Balkan region of Europe, after the 1992 breakup of the multiethnic federation of Yugoslavia. Even then, it never intervened to stop atrocities by Croatian forces against Muslim and Serb civilians, because those forces were aided by the U. When a NATO occupation force enabled Albanians to move back, U. forces did little or nothing to prevent similar atrocities against Serb and other non-Albanian civilians. Embassy hostages held in downtown Tehran had to be aborted in the Iranian desert. They instead took the side of Lebanon’s pro-Israel Christian government against Muslim rebels, and U. Navy ships rained enormous shells on Muslim civilian villages. In retaliation, the CIA set off car bombs to assassinate Shi’ite Muslim leaders. launched a 1986 bombing raid on Libya, which it accused of sponsoring a terrorist bombing later tied to Syria. Libya’s Arab nationalist leader Muammar Qaddafi remained in power. Marines were deployed in a neutral “peacekeeping” operation. Navy also intervened against Iran during its war against Iraq in 1987-88, sinking Iranian ships and “accidentally” shooting down an Iranian civilian jetliner. military forces toppled a dictatorship–such as in Grenada or Panama–they did so in a way that prevented the country’s people from overthrowing their own dictator first, and installing a new democratic government more to their liking. always attacked violence by its opponents as “terrorism,” “atrocities against civilians,” or “ethnic cleansing,” but minimized or defended the same actions by the U. We must begin not by lashing out at civilians in Muslim countries, but by taking responsibility for our own history and our own actions, and how they have fed the cycle of violence.

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Versions of this list have been published on,, and numerous other websites. mobilization to overthrow Taliban, hunt Al Qaeda fighters, install Karzai regime, and battle Taliban insurgency. In 1898, it seized the Philippines, Cuba, and Puerto Rico from Spain, and in 1917-18 became embroiled in World War I in Europe. The atomic bombing of Japan at the end of the war was carried out without any kind of advance demonstration or warning that may have prevented the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians.

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