The Use of Military Force

Authored by: Brandon C. Prins , Mark Souva

Routledge Handbook of American Foreign Policy

Print publication date:  August  2011
Online publication date:  April  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415800884
eBook ISBN: 9780203878637
Adobe ISBN: 9781135967352


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On October 6, 2001, President George W. Bush authorized military action against Afghanistan. The following day U.S. aircraft bombed Taliban and al Qaeda forces in and around five major Afghan cities. Sixty-three days later on December 9, Kandahar fell and Taliban leader Mullah Omar escaped to Pakistan. Only sixteen days later, U.S. Army and Marine forces began their rapid march towards Baghdad from their bases in Kuwait. Within three weeks, Iraqi forces had surrendered and Baghdad had fallen. 1 Afghanistan and Iraq are the two most recent uses of military force by the United States but these episodes are hardly unique. By one estimate, the United States has dispatched troops abroad 291 times from 1798 through 2008 (Grimmett 2009). Beginning with actions against the French and Barbary Pirates under Presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson and ending with measures directed at al Qaeda in Afghanistan and other locations under President Bush, the United States has projected, and actively continues to project, its power overseas.

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