Intervention by Invasion

(This is a current page, from the Patterns of Power Edition 3 book contents.  An archived copy of this page is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition03/7321.htm)

There are several scenarios in which governments decide to invade another country, with ‘boots on the ground’, in order to protect groups of people:

  • A government might try to protect its own citizens by making a pre-emptive invasion of another country, to neutralise a threat of attack by regime change. The most dramatic recent example, according to one interpretation of that action, was the decision by America and others to invade Iraq in 2003 – as described in the next chapter.
  • Governments have tried to protect their citizens by attacking terrorist bases in other countries to neutralise a threat and to deter further aggression. For example, Israel invaded Lebanon in 2006 in what was described by the Economist as A surge of anger, in response to provocation by Hezbollah; it also invaded Gaza in August 2011 in response to rocket attacks by Hamas.[1]
  • Some armed interventions are intended to prop up vulnerable ‘friendly’ governments; America has intervened in several such cases,[2] of which the most famous was Vietnam.
  • A country might intervene in the affairs of another in order to protect a group of vulnerable people. That was the quoted reason why, as reported by the BBC, Russian tanks enter South Ossetia in 2008.

In all these examples, the population of the country carrying out the invasion is keenly aware of the action.  It is seen as a ‘foreign war’, which might be popular for a while if the cause is seen as just, so the politicians who make the decision to invade enjoy a temporary political legitimacy (6.3.6) – but wars become increasingly unpopular if they drag on.



[1] MBNC published an AP report of 4 August 2011, entitled Israeli retaliation kills 12 after school bus hit, which stated:

“Israeli aircraft and tanks pounded Gaza on Friday, killing seven Hamas militants and five civilians in a surge of fighting sparked by a Palestinian rocket attack on an Israeli school bus the day before.”

This report was available in May 2018 at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42491241/ns/world_news-mideast_n_africa/t/israeli-retaliation-kills-after-school-bus-hit/#.T5LgbrOGqf4.

[2] Noam Chomsky, in his 1987 book The Chomsky Reader, lists Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, East Timor, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala as countries in which America had intervened with military force since World War Two.  Kosovo and Iraq were later.  This list excludes UN-authorised missions.