7.3.2 Military Intervention

Governments sometimes make military interventions in other countries without trying to acquire territory.  They might want to strike against their enemies, to help politically sympathetic groups, or to protect people at risk (who may or may not be their own citizens).

Unless such interventions are explicitly authorised by the UN Security Council, they rely upon a trial of strength rather than upon a governance framework – so this book classifies them as Ungoverned Power.  They are examples of realpolitik ( and are invariably seen by the target country as acts of war.  Such adventures have a very low success rate.

As described in the following sub-sections, the country making the intervention can take on different degrees of risk to itself and with varying consequences:

●  it can deploy an invasion force (, as America has done on numerous occasions since the Second World War (with little success);

●  it can make air-strikes from a distance (, with little immediate risk to itself but sometimes with serious consequences later as other countries react;

●  or it can deploy unmanned drones (, again at low cost to itself but with almost inevitable civilian casualties that radicalise other people and make the entire strategy counterproductive.

These tactics are listed in a sequence of a diminishing risk of incurring casualties, and they can be used in any combination.  Their effectiveness is questionable (, since there is a backlash against all such interventions.



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This is a current page, updated since publication of Patterns of Power Edition 3a.  An archived copy of it is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition03/732a.htm