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Something Europeans need to understand about US foreign policy
Posted by: mcq on Thursday, November 02, 2006

Robert Kagen, writing from Europe, says Europeans hope that a Democratic victory in the mid-terms will "finally shift the direction of American foreign policy in a more benign direction." As he properly notes, that's rarely the effect of Congressional elections, especially since foreign policy is almost exclusively the purview of the executive branch.

He also, fairly convincingly, makes the case that for the most part, whether you agree with it or not, we've had a pretty consistent foreign policy regardless of which party held the White House:
There is a deeper reason this election, and even the next presidential election, may not change U.S. foreign policy very much. Historically, and especially in the six decades since the end of World War II, there has been much more continuity than discontinuity in foreign policy. New administrations change policy around the margins, and sometimes those changes prove important — George H.W. Bush temporized about the Balkans; Bill Clinton temporized and then sent troops. Clinton temporized about Iraq and then bombed. George W. Bush temporized and then invaded. But the motives behind American foreign policy, and even the means, don't differ all that much from administration to administration. Republicans berated the Democrats' "cowardly" containment until they took the White House in 1952, then adopted that strategy as their own.

This tendency toward continuity is particularly striking on the issue that most divides Americans from Europeans today: the use of military force in international affairs. Americans of both parties simply have more belief in the utility and even justice of military action than do most other peoples around the world. The German Marshall Fund commissions an annual poll that asks Europeans and Americans, among other things, whether they agree with the following statement: "Under some conditions, war is necessary to obtain justice." Europeans disagree, and by a 2 to 1 margin. But Americans overwhelmingly support the idea that war may be necessary to obtain justice. Even this year, with disapproval of the Iraq war high, 78 percent of American respondents agreed with the statement.

This broad bipartisan conviction is reflected in U.S. policies. Between 1989 and 2003, the United States engaged in significant military actions overseas on nine occasions under Bush I, Clinton and Bush II: Panama in 1989, Somalia in 1992, Haiti in 1994, Bosnia in 1995-96, Kosovo in 1999, Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq three times — 1991, 1998 and 2003, an average of one major military action every year and a half.
Other than the UK, every major power in Europe has effectively concluded that eschewing force in favor of diplomacy is the best way to go. One of the reasons Europe could indulge itself in that policy is the US stood ready and able to go to war to ensure Europe's survival. But the gulf which has developed between Europe's perception of how to deal with the world and that of the US has never been wider. European nations mostly take the possibility of the use of force off the table before engaging in diplomacy. Doing so provides little incentive for recalcitrant nations bound on ignoring international law and covenants from going their own way. The UN writ smaller.

The US, on the other hand, has been much more willing to use force as the blunt instrument of diplomacy, giving much more incentive for those recalcitrant nations to listen. Lybia is the most recent example. As any parent knows, if you tell your child you'll spank them when the do something and then don't, they continue to do what you don't want them to do. Sometimes, it only takes one spanking to change that behavior (and the behavior of other children who are watching). They know you, as a parent, will act on your threat. Now I'm not comparing other nations as "children" or the US as the "parent", I'm simply stating a well-known phenomenon. After a demonstration of force, the threat of force is often a very good deterrent and has a tendency to change how a nation views the process of diplomacy.

If Europe thinks that a Democratic Congress will adopt the same attitude as most European states in the world of diplomacy, they're terribly mistaken. Other than a fringe element, the Democrats aren't systemically "anti-war". Instead they're anti-Iraq war. That's a huge difference. Most Democrats supported Kosovo. Most Democrats support Afghanistan. Few Democrats support Iraq. The argument isn't about the use of force (and eschewing it), it is about the appropriate circumstances under which to use it.

I'd also point out, as does Kagen, that Democrats aren't talking about cutting the military or its budget. In fact, just the opposite. So, fair warning to any Europeans who may read this or Kagan's piece ... nothing much is going to change in our foreign policy. As Kagan concludes:
Today Democrats insist that the United States will be such a force as soon as George W. Bush leaves office. Although they pretend they have a fundamental doctrinal dispute with the Bush administration, their recommendations are less far-reaching. They argue that the United States should generally try to be nicer, employ more "soft power" and be more effective when it employs "hard power." That may be good advice, but it hardly qualifies as an alternative doctrine.

Many around the world will thrill at the defeat of Republicans next week. They should enjoy the moment while they can. When the smoke clears, they will find themselves dealing with much the same America, with all its virtues and all its flaws.
I think he's precisely right. The rhetoric may ratchet up concerning Iraq and differing approaches to diplomacy, but when all is said and done, the use of force will still be on the table and remain on the table regardless of who's in charge of US foreign policy.
 
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(Shameless plug alert): A good example of the cultural difference can be seen in German foreign policy. I strongly recommend the book *German Foreign Policy: Navigating a New Era* by Scott Erb, which lays out how German norms developed in the post-war period, leading to a different conception of foreign policy than that in the US. It’s the only book I’ve read where I find myself agreeing with everything the author writes ;-)
You can get it from the publisher for only $25: http://www.rienner.com/viewbook.cfm?BOOKID=1347&search=Erb
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
I’d also point out, as does Kagen, that Democrats aren’t talking about cutting the military or its budget
Ever listen to what Charlie Rangel has to say? He’s gonna have some clout if the Dems take the House...
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
I strongly recommend the book *German Foreign Policy: Navigating a New Era* by Scott Erb,


Gosh, Scott, I hope your book contains such insights as this:

Look, our military is not defending freedom or doing anything heroic in Iraq. It’s a failed war of aggression, an attempt at imperialism designed to assure access to oil and dominance in the region, and stories abound of abuses, murders and mistreatment of innocents by frustrated soldiers who think they came to liberate, only to find that the liberated don’t want them.
 
Written By: Come on, Please
URL: http://
It really doesn’t matter how or what the German foreign policy is or says. It is irrelevant. Its based on diplomacy because that all they had or needed to use. If ever truly tested by force they would fall on there faces. They can talk to their enemies all day long because they know they have a 500lb gorilla (US) ready to go in the closet. Frankly it would be more interesting to see how quickly German attitudes toward the use of force for protection changed if they had to fly solo.
 
Written By: coaster
URL: http://
It really doesn’t matter how or what the German foreign policy is or says. It is irrelevant. Its based on diplomacy because that all they had or needed to use. If ever truly tested by force they would fall on there faces. They can talk to their enemies all day long because they know they have a 500lb gorilla (US) ready to go in the closet. Frankly it would be more interesting to see how quickly German attitudes toward the use of force for protection changed if they had to fly solo.
Wow, an example of caricatured ignorance and arrogance of the sort that reflects European stereotypes about how Americans think. It’s so caricatured, I can’t tell if you mean it, or if you’re making a joke.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Wow, an example of caricatured ignorance and arrogance of the sort that reflects European stereotypes about how Americans think. It’s so caricatured, I can’t tell if you mean it, or if you’re making a joke
You hypocrite....now who is just calling names and refusing to respond to points someone brought up? You’re all that is wrong with political discourse today

Now go write a book bemoaning your declining standard of discourse

 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Wow, an example of caricatured ignorance and arrogance of the sort that reflects European stereotypes about how Americans think. It’s so caricatured, I can’t tell if you mean it, or if you’re making a joke.
Wow, what a fact filled reply. Good going Scott, I’m sure everyone who reads this will want to read your book.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
I feel horrified for the students he "teaches"
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
So are you saying that the Germans have no major military defense spending per GDP because they just decided they could get by without any in the world today. I take it you believe we should be moving toward their model? By the way is your "book" on the required reading list for your class?
 
Written By: coaster
URL: http://
Wow, an example of caricatured ignorance and arrogance... It’s so caricatured, I can’t tell if you mean it, or if you’re making a joke.
A pretty accurate description of your feelings on the Iraq War, quoted by "Come on, please" above.
 
Written By: Jordan
URL: http://
Well, to the topic of the post, what I don’t think that Europeans or many on the Left realize is that if we leave Iraq, what will have been defeated along with the US is one faction of American foreign policy thought: the Wilsonians. The next time, the Wilsonians (those who are idealistic, believing in nanny-state liberalism on an international level as a way to bring the benefits of our culture an society to the benighted of the world) don’t get to play.

The Wilsonians got their chance because the Hamiltonians (more commonly called realists) failed in Vietnam and because the aftermath of Hamiltonian policy in the 1980s was so bad for the US in a PR sense. Remember the "don’t deal with dictators" chants from those now begging us to deal with dictators? The Hamiltonians basically believe that what is important is US commercial and power interests, and the poor benighted of world can just lump it if they are in the way. While they may get the next chance at policy, that’s not very likely: Americans in general look at paying off dictators as a bad deal politically and morally, as well as for our longer-term interests, because of those aforementioned major failures.

The Jeffersonians may get a turn at bat for a while. Jeffersonians believe that if we stay home and mind our own business, the world will choose to emulate our benevolent goodness. This is how George Bush’s administration started out before 9/11. Remember the carping about how bad it was for us to not take sides in the Middle East from those now carping about us taking sides in the Middle East? The problem is, 9/11 shows pretty clearly that Jeffersonian insistence on armed neutrality is simply not plausible in the world today. We are too big, too powerful, too necessarily invested in world order — and simultaneously too threatened by missiles, nuclear weapons and suicide bombers — to ever truly disengage. Even if we were to voluntarily disarm, destroying our military power, our economic and cultural power would be so vast as to obviate this strategy for long: we would be attacked regardless, and our lack of hard power would make the attacks more, not less, vicious and unrelenting.

Which means that the likely strand of American foreign policy thought that would get the next turn at bat is the Jacksonians. The Jacksonians believe that we should be Jeffersonians, until we’re attacked, at which point laying waste to the world is really not too high a price to pay for peace. The Jacksonians are the Southern American warrior culture, and the people who thought nothing of sending 25 million men to fight (out of a population half the size of the US today) and even less of dropping nuclear weapons on Japanese cities, which had been spared from firebombing specifically for the morale impact it would have to destroy them with nuclear weapons. The Jacksonians are the people arguing after 9/11 that we should have just taken off and nuked the whole Middle East from orbit — it’s the only way to be sure.

I know that the Hamiltonians are increasingly abandoning ship, and the Jeffersonians were never on board, but they should really consider the alternative if the Wilsonians are discredited, because it is not they but the Jacksonians who will likely get to deal with the next crisis. That crisis is not far in the future even now, and probably will be Iran. And frankly, if the Wilsonians are wrong about being able to make Iraq work as a representatively-governed more-or-less democracy, or if we force them out before they finish the job, the result will be more, not less, death and destruction.
 
Written By: Jeff Medcalf
URL: http://www.caerdroia.org/blog
Again, a lot of silliness and name calling, but very little substance.

So, I take it that post was serious — that the poster really believed that Germany relies on America for protection, and if not would be somehow unable to cope in the world? Amazing.

Right now in the European press there is a lot of smugness about how Americans are learning the lesson that military power is not that useful in a globalized world, winning wars is not the main way politics operates, and in fact the problems that exist are exacerbated by attempting to use force. They see a role for military force, but believe that American militarism is counter productive and unnecessary. They are not sitting back relying on America for "protection," but would prefer a western partnership that would see military action as a last resort.

Our militarism is hurting our country immensely, and I think that fact will become obvious in years to come. But hey, keep blaming the left, blaming the media, and blaming everyone but those who make the decisions which put us where we are.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Other than the UK, every major power in Europe has effectively concluded that eschewing force in favor of diplomacy is the best way to go.
France actively uses military force to quell instability in Saharan and sub-Saharan Africa. Recent deployment helped diffuse Ivory Coast/Sierre Leone.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
They are not sitting back relying on America for "protection," but would prefer a western partnership that would see military action as a last resort
With the exception of the UK.....actually yes, they are.
Right now in the European press there is a lot of smugness
So what? We don’t have nightly car torchings and a low level intifada like many Eurpoean countries. What they’re smug about means sh*t.
about how Americans are learning the lesson that military power is not that useful in a globalized world
,
Easy for those who don’t have one to say. In fact, in our world today the need for the military seems to me to be greater than ever.
winning wars is not the main way politics operates,

Agreed. It’s the THREAT of being able to win a war that is one of the main ways international politics operates.
and in fact the problems that exist are exacerbated by attempting to use force
Shallow reasoning. Problems are also allowed to fester and worsen when military force is withheld.
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Again, a lot of silliness and name calling, but very little substance.
The above applies well to all your posts in this thread so far.
So, I take it that post was serious — that the poster really believed that Germany relies on America for protection, and if not would be somehow unable to cope in the world? Amazing.
Obviously, if China sent a navy to invade Germany, the U-boats would sink it post-haste.

Scott, the fact is that Anglo-American naval power has protected the civilized world since cerca 1805. Mostly ships starting with HMS until sometime in the 1940s, when the USS ships started taking over. Sometimes even a dense college prof could figure it out, like between 1914-18 and 1939-45, but most generally these ships have simply put on a show, making sure the bad guys knew they were there, with little understanding on the part of the protected about what was going on.

Germany has little military power, because someone else has considerable military power with reach, so the Germans can funnel their taxes into supporting Islamic welfare recipients. Alas, there are limits to American power, and I suspect the Europeans are going to discover that next time they need help (based upon the intifada in France, that day may not be too far off).
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Germany has little military power, because someone else has considerable military power with reach, so the Germans can funnel their taxes into supporting Islamic welfare recipients. Alas, there are limits to American power, and I suspect the Europeans are going to discover that next time they need help (based upon the intifada in France, that day may not be too far off).
I suspect that the Americans will discover that the Europeans are on the right path in terms of understanding how an interdependent world operates, and American militarism will lead to real problems in the US. Wars of aggression tend to create more harm than good for the aggressor.

Time will tell. I’m sure if Germany thought there was a military threat emerging, they’d be able to respond (though it would be an EU response). Fortunately, there is no true military threat out there.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
They see a role for military force, but believe that American militarism is counter productive and unnecessary.


Sounds like what they were thinking back in the day. Worried about Reagan pissing off the Soviets.

Who was right back in the day?
They are not sitting back relying on America for "protection," but would prefer a western partnership that would see military action as a last resort.
Of course they rely on us for protection. It may not be what they want to do, or what they see themselves doing, but it is what they are doing.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
The Europeans are counting on no one close invading them.
We’re counting on having to deploy across the entire globe to deal with the problems the Europeans can’t effectively deal with.

Pretty simple Scott, don’t pretend that the bulk of European powers expect to have to project their forces much past their borders as a rule.

Look at how effectively they all ponied up naval forces for the UN to deal with a potential Korean embargo blockade just recently.
Their forces are token, ’here’s our flag!, We’re here too!’ efforts.



 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
I suspect that the Americans will discover that the Europeans are on the right path in terms of understanding how an interdependent world operates, and American militarism will lead to real problems in the US.
In fact, it is Americans and their capitalist principles that understand how "an interdependent world operates". European socialists and their multiculturalism don’t have a clue, but perhaps the burning buses in France will help them discover a clue.

American success and, earlier, English success is a result of free markets functioning in "an interdependent world." European failure and stagnation is due to a failure to understand this and a failure to implement free market reform.
Wars of aggression tend to create more harm than good for the aggressor.
Which, of course, is exactly why wars of aggression have been so popular throughout history.

Your problem here is thinking that the war in Iraq is a war of aggression. If it was, we wouldn’t care about involving Iraqis in their government, punishing troops for misconduct, rebuilding Iraq, etc. No, we would rape, plunder, kill anyone who complained or looked sideways at us, take the oil and tax, tax, tax. Until there was nothing left, then we would move on to the next victim.

The problems we face in Iraq stem from the fact that it’s not a war of aggression. That makes it complicated to deal with.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
The Europeans are counting on no one close invading them.
Due mostly to the USN, they don’t have to worry about much in the way of naval landings and such by hostile forces. Absent the USN, would that still be the case?

Another point: if anyone wants to know what the US would look like if the Democrats get their way, just look at Europe. Not the quaint old buildings and the loose chicks, but the economy, military capability, taxes, regulation, and growing social problems.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Due mostly to the USN, they don’t have to worry about much in the way of naval landings and such by hostile forces. Absent the USN, would that still be the case?
Yes, they don’t need the US Navy. Seriously. This is the 21st century. Who is going to invade Europe? They don’t need us.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Your problem here is thinking that the war in Iraq is a war of aggression. If it was, we wouldn’t care about involving Iraqis in their government, punishing troops for misconduct, rebuilding Iraq, etc. No, we would rape, plunder, kill anyone who complained or looked sideways at us, take the oil and tax, tax, tax. Until there was nothing left, then we would move on to the next victim.
Your argument is illogical. A war of aggression is defined by the act of starting the war. The policies afterwards do not alter that. We started the war, we invaded, and we’re in a half trillion dollar quagmire.

I believe in the last two hundred years no aggressor has benefited from starting a war. That’s a pretty convincing track record.

Your comments about Europe show only that you really don’t understand the continent, you have a caricatured view (just as many Europeans have a caricatured view of America). The Europeans are wealthy, have market economies, and are doing fine.

But I suspect that the coming "Iraq syndrome" will keep American governments from being so adventuresome in at least the next couple of decades. Spin cannot defy reality.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
OOPs forgot about example 1. The cold war was started by the US (Hiroshima) and finished by the US (Ronald Reagan).

IMHO more Americans understand Europe than you think. Do you really think that Germany is just more enlightened on the subject of geopolitical confrontation than the US?? (sad) Germany has had the benefit of a single faceted foreign policy since the 50’s. Frankly it is not the best model to try and sway public policy with.

By the way thanks for enlightening me I have kids who soon will be challenging your inbred and sophomoric theories on the world, you truly are a great mentor.

The definition of a Quagmire. Buying and reading your book as a requirement to get a passing grade in your class.
 
Written By: coaster
URL: http://
I believe in the last two hundred years no aggressor has benefited from starting a war. That’s a pretty convincing track record.
North Vietnam benefited by gaining territory. Mao went from peasent to emporer of China. The British Empire defeated the kingitanga to establish New Zealand. The USA captured the Southwest and California, though admittedly it is unknown if Californians are at all beneficial. The Bristish Empire captured the diamond mines of the high veldt. King Leopold...
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
Yes, they don’t need the US Navy. Seriously. This is the 21st century. Who is going to invade Europe?
Under the protection of the USN, no one is going to invade. The 21st century is what it is because of things such as the USN.
Your argument is illogical. A war of aggression is defined by the act of starting the war. The policies afterwards do not alter that. We started the war, we invaded, and we’re in a half trillion dollar quagmire.
There is a long history of real wars of aggression, where the goal was to benifit from the spoils of conquest. The war in Iraq is different, and the difficulty is related to our attempt to set the population up for success.
I believe in the last two hundred years no aggressor has benefited from starting a war. That’s a pretty convincing track record.
Strange coincidence: that corresponds with the dominance of the Anglo-American navies. You seem to think such things just happen; that we reach a majic year and the bad old ways just went away.

Napoleon lost his world war due to the Royal Navy. Same with the Keiser. Hitler lost due to the Royal Navy and USN. Japan due to the USN.
Your comments about Europe show only that you really don’t understand the continent, you have a caricatured view (just as many Europeans have a caricatured view of America). The Europeans are wealthy, have market economies, and are doing fine.
I can read about things like unemployment rates and per capita GDPs, as well as about the riots in France, etc. The major Euro countries have per capita GDPs a good $10k below the US, per 2005 stats. Would you want a $10k cut in salary?

 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
North Vietnam benefited by gaining territory. Mao went from peasent to emporer of China. The British Empire defeated the kingitanga to establish New Zealand. The USA captured the Southwest and California, though admittedly it is unknown if Californians are at all beneficial. The Bristish Empire captured the diamond mines of the high veldt. King Leopold...
I’m a Californian and I’m benificial.

Scott is right to some degree, that conquest has fallen by the wayside. He just doesn’t grasp why.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Strange coincidence: that corresponds with the dominance of the Anglo-American navies. You seem to think such things just happen; that we reach a majic year and the bad old ways just went away.
So you’re a believer in the old theory about dominance of the seas being the key to power? That theory has been rather discarded for awhile, but I can tell I can’t talk you out of it, so I’ll let you stick with your Alfred Mahan view of the world, but I’m not at all convinced. (In social science terms your theory is over-deterministic; unicausal theories are almost always too simplistic and wrong).

Wars of aggression have failed in landlocked regions, and places where the navy made no difference. The reason why the era of traditional war is ending in the industrialized world has nothing to do with navies; it has a lot to do with technology, economic trade, and the lack of value of simply adding new territory (the Germans wouldn’t want Poland today if it were handed to them free of charge). War does happen mostly in the third world, and it’s mostly ethnic reflecting the fact that states created in the post-colonial era are fictions, corrupt, and lacking a stable social base. There is the threat to the West in the future — generations of warfare in Africa, combined with real economic poverty and lack of hope create conditions where a future charismatic leader with access to terror tactics and high tech weaponry might mount a threat far greater than Islamic extremism. They have incentive to see the system continue, after all — we buy their oil. A future African challenge could be predicated on the idea that the only way they can break out of their poverty would be to destroy the system. That war won’t be a traditional war though.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
I’m a Californian and I’m benificial.
Indeed, please accept my apologies.
The reason why the era of traditional war is ending in the industrialized world has nothing to do with navies; it has a lot to do with technology, economic trade, and the lack of value of simply adding new territory (the Germans wouldn’t want Poland today if it were handed to them free of charge).
It has to do with the acceptance of those people living on the territory as being of more significant worth alive. Involved in this is an acceptance that those other people have worth as people. It is ethnic, nationalist or religious groups that cause war when (and only when) they value the ideal-they-hold-dear over the worth of those other people.
There is the threat to the West in the future — generations of warfare in Africa, combined with real economic poverty and lack of hope create conditions where a future charismatic leader with access to terror tactics and high tech weaponry might mount a threat far greater than Islamic extremism. They have incentive to see the system continue, after all — we buy their oil. A future African challenge could be predicated on the idea that the only way they can break out of their poverty would be to destroy the system.
African threat:
1, Half the African wars are also Muslim wars.
2, real economic poverty precludes having access to high tech weaponary.
3, generations of warfare count against finding a unifying charasmatic leader.

Exxon to save America from Islamist states:
1, SinoPec also buys oil.
2, they are rich enough to think that they are blessed by G*d, instilling an arrogance that may lead them into conflict with what they think are their inferiors.
3, they share a united history in Islam which says we are amoung the inferiors.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
Scott,

Imagine a world where the USA is completely neutral, the USN is not patrolling sea lanes, we have no bases overseas, and our nuclear umbrella is revoked..

The EU decides that Iran should not have nukes (their current position.) They offer concessions and a trade deal. The Iranians refuse. (current reality.)

What does the EU do if Iran nukes Israel?

What does the EU do if Iran invades Iraq, Saudi Arabia, etc., backed by nukes?

BTW, the reason war has not paid in the 20th-21st century is that USA has not allowed it to pay for the most part, except the obvious examples like China seizing Tibet, India overunning Goa, East Timor (for a time.) Where America is ambivalent, like the Balkans before our intervention, or Rwanda, Darfur, Congo, it seems to still pay nicely. Without the USA, wouldn’t the risk calculus be changed to make it even more tempting?
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
I believe in the last two hundred years no aggressor has benefited from starting a war.
Austro-Prussian War of 1866.
Franco-Prussian War of 1870.
Russo-Japanese War of 1905.
War of the Triple Alliance (1864-1870).

Those are off the top of my head. You could also argue that the American Civil War of 1865 fell into this category (who invaded who first?) as well as Nazi Germany agression prior to the invasion of Russia. As others have mentioned, North Vietnam came off rather well with their agression against the south.
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
I believe in the last two hundred years no aggressor has benefited from starting a war.
Austro-Prussian War of 1866.
Started by Austria, which was quickly defeated by Prussia.

Franco-Prussian War of 1870.
Started by France, which was quickly defeated by Prussia.

Russo-Japanese War of 1905.
Russia refused to leave Manchuria, which was required by treaty. The Japanese kicked them out. Pretty minor, and clearly Russia provoked the war.
War of the Triple Alliance (1864-1870).
No one won that war, all parties were devastated in the aftermath.

Other possible minor claims of aggression succeeding are enmeshed in treaties and controversies, such as the Second War of Schleswig Holstein.

In any event, it’s pretty clear wars of aggression if not always nearly always bring harm to the aggressor.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Other than a fringe element, the Democrats aren’t systemically "anti-war". Instead they’re anti-Iraq war. That’s a huge difference. Most Democrats supported Kosovo. Most Democrats support Afghanistan. Few Democrats support Iraq. The argument isn’t about the use of force (and eschewing it), it is about the appropriate circumstances under which to use it.
I wish I had time to write something long and thoughtful here, but instead I’ll have to settle for, Robert Kagan is more right than wrong, McQ is right as well, and I thought it was an interesting and welcome reminder. And I appreciate him posting it. For better or for worse, Iraq is not America’s last dalliance with changing the world through a target reticule.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
In any event, it’s pretty clear wars of aggression if not always nearly always bring harm to the aggressor.
You were incorrect on every one of your responses. You have an incorrect knowledge of military history. I see no reason to continue this discussion. Believe what you wish; you are not worth my time.
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
Not in any particular order....

Spanish American war - (Philipines, Puerto Rico)

Numerous Colonial wars in Africa and India and SouthEast Asia where European powers ended up with profitable colonies
(French North Africa ring a bell?)
(Belgian Congo?)
(Rhodesia?)
(etc...)

Napoleonic conquests prior to his F-UP in invading Russia.
(These are classified as different wars, ended with various treaties, all of which benefited the French Republic/Empire)

Opium War(s)/Boxer "Rebellion"

Boer War.

Japan (pre-Pearl Harbor booboo) Vs China.

How long does the aggressive winner have to be in place before they get ’harmed’ in order to count Scott?
10-years?,
20-years?,
30-years?
forever?

Now, look at most of these wars - reflective of the ability of the powers involved to project their power across oceans (with the exception of Napoleonic conflicts mentioned).
The need to be able to project power via naval force has not diminished. You can’t move enough force, fast enough, via any other method in order to launch a prolonged aggressive war that isn’t adjacent to your own starting point.

You can build all the transports you like (Mr. Napoleon), if you don’t have the friendly combat vessels and aircraft to guard the undergunned or unarmed flock the hostile combat vessels & aircraft are going to tear them up.

 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
You were incorrect on every one of your responses. You have an incorrect knowledge of military history. I see no reason to continue this discussion. Believe what you wish; you are not worth my time.
You lie. I was correct in my responses. Run and hide from truth if you want.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Scott,

I believe Prussia started the 1870 Franco-Prussian war with a fake cable, or some such.

Russo-Japanese war was far more important than you state:

1. First time an Asian power won against a European.
2. First use of sneak attack by Japan.
3. First naval defeat of a European power by Japan.
4. Japan gained a lot of territory in Manchuria.

All of these are major factors in Japanese foreign policy up to 1945.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
I believe Prussia started the 1870 Franco-Prussian war with a fake cable, or some such.
I won’t argue with you about the Russo-Japan war, so I’ll give in to you on that one: Japan did gain, and Russia wanted the war. But in the Franco-Prussian war Bismarck did leak a telegram to the French press that made it seem that the King of Prussia was derisive of Napoleon III and France. But that isn’t starting a war. The French public were enraged by the news and Napoleon III, feeling he had to follow French public opinion, decided to declare war on Prussia. So while Prussia goaded France into war, France started it.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Let’s see Prussia goads France into starting a war - meaning France did it for ’honor’ and not aggression and Prussia, who knowingly provoked it, gained.
Heh - yeah Scott, you sure proved your point there.

Care to discuss the Span-Am war yet?

 
Written By: Looker
URL: http://
Let’s see Prussia goads France into starting a war - meaning France did it for ’honor’ and not aggression and Prussia, who knowingly provoked it, gained.
Heh - yeah Scott, you sure proved your point there.
By that logic Russia can be charged with starting the war with Japan, given that the Russians wanted the war, and goaded Japan by staying in Manchuria.

But OK, many of you make some good points so I’ll accept your criticism and revise my statement. How about the last 100 years — when has an aggressor benefited? Perhaps Vietnam in 1979 against Cambodia, though that’s a unique case.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Care to discuss the Span-Am war yet?
Three words - Moro Crater Massacre. Unfortunately it disproves Hersh’s thesis completely. I say "unfortunately" since it also involved US troops.

All-in-all, the Philippine Insurrection, a result of the Span-Am war, was probably where the US military was truly the most brutal in our history.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
"Russo-Japanese war was far more important than you state:"

I believe there were also some fairly significant internal political effects in Russia and repercussions in Europe.

"when has an aggressor benefited?"


Soviet Union vs. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, 1940
Soviet Union vs. Japan, 1945
Peoples Republic of China vs. Tibet, 1950(?)
India vs. Goa
Italy vs. Ethiopia, Libya,

Does unconventional, e.g. revolutionary aggression count?

Just off the top of my head, in the two or three minutes my lazinesss allows me to spend on this. There are more, but I grow weary and my memory is a bit hazy since I haven’t read of these things in some time.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
"when has an aggressor benefited?"


Soviet Union vs. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, 1940
Soviet Union vs. Japan, 1945
Peoples Republic of China vs. Tibet, 1950(?)
India vs. Goa
Italy vs. Ethiopia, Libya,
The Soviets managed after WWII to hold on to those states for a half century, but it’s really a pretty meager example. Japan started WWII and the Soviet Union at the very end entered in, so it’s really the aggressor, Japan, losing. Tibet wasn’t really a state and had been in flux for decades. Italy ultimately lost in Africa and WWII.

Obviously, any aggression that pays either pays very short term, or definitions have to be stretched. Meanwhile the list of aggression that failed is quite large and the wars more dramatic. The lesson is clear: a country that starts a war better have massively more power (e.g., the US and Grenada) or else things will probably go bad. Even with a lot more power (e.g., now in Iraq) local conditions will make it difficult for a state to project power across long distances.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
So you’re a believer in the old theory about dominance of the seas being the key to power? That theory has been rather discarded for awhile,
Because Naval power failed so badly in the last few world wars, no doubt.
The reason why the era of traditional war is ending in the industrialized world has nothing to do with navies; it has a lot to do with technology, economic trade, and the lack of value of simply adding new territory
Well, yes, it does have to do with navies. You might note that the Anglo-American powers that led the "technology, economic trade, and the lack of value of simply adding new territory" idea invested in navies.

English commerce and the Royal Navy were intertwined, and the commerce approach dominates due to the success of the Anglo-Americans, and their control of the world’s sea lanes. Technology is related to commerce.

It’s commerce, technology, and navy working together, and the resulting understanding that it’s a better way to wealth than conquest. But absent Anglo-American naval power (or equivelent with similar worldview) there’s no compelling reason to think it will continue.

 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
The Soviets managed after WWII to hold on to those states for a half century, but it’s really a pretty meager example.
The Soviets failed because they faced the US, and because communism sucked.
Japan started WWII and the Soviet Union at the very end entered in, so it’s really the aggressor, Japan, losing.


Japan was the aggressor against China and many others, but not against the USSR. They were very careful not to aggress against the USSR. They knew they would loose.
Tibet wasn’t really a state and had been in flux for decades.
So what.
Italy ultimately lost in Africa and WWII.
Well, yeah. The Royal Navy kicked ass.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
But OK, many of you make some good points so I’ll accept your criticism and revise my statement. How about the last 100 years — when has an aggressor benefited? Perhaps Vietnam in 1979 against Cambodia, though that’s a unique case.


Let’s see: last 100 years.

Prior to 1914, Royal Navy dominated. Little room for agression.

1914-1918, World War. Anglo-American navies dominate. Japanese made good on war with Germany. This aggression was limited by the number of German colonies within Japan’s grasp.

1919-1939: Royal Navy dominated. European fascists build up for war. Japanese continue conquests.

1939-1945: World War. Anglo-American navies dominate. Aggression of European fascists and Japanese ended.

1945-1991: Cold War. Soviets have large army in Europe, US has powerful Navy, both sides have nukes.

Post 1991: US Navy dominates.

The timeline of the last 100 years leaves little room for the type of war Scott is talking about. Specifically, the world wars were examples of naval dominance. In a sense, the Cold War was an example of naval dominance, since the naval/commerce nation prevailed.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Let’s see: last 100 years.
Prior to 1914, Royal Navy dominated. Little room for agression.

1914-1918, World War. Anglo-American navies dominate. Japanese made good on war with Germany. This aggression was limited by the number of German colonies within Japan’s grasp.

1919-1939: Royal Navy dominated. European fascists build up for war. Japanese continue conquests.

1939-1945: World War. Anglo-American navies dominate. Aggression of European fascists and Japanese ended.

1945-1991: Cold War. Soviets have large army in Europe, US has powerful Navy, both sides have nukes.

Post 1991: US Navy dominates.

The timeline of the last 100 years leaves little room for the type of war Scott is talking about. Specifically, the world wars were examples of naval dominance. In a sense, the Cold War was an example of naval dominance, since the naval/commerce nation prevailed.
You obviously have a theory you want to interpret reality through.

It’s not very useful or persuasive, and you certainly don’t do the work to draw causal links and support your theory. But hey, you’re free to believe what you want, even if it’s an "outlier" theory.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm

 
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