A Country Too Far: U.S. Military Operations in Somalia, 1992-1994
AIR FORCE HISTORICAL RESEARCH AGENCY MAXWELL AFB AL
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How far is the United States willing to go in order to feed and police the world One answer to that question came from American military experience in Somalia between 1992 and 1994. In those three years, the United States embarked on no less than four major operations in Somalia, and the ultimate result was failure. The U.S. military experience in Somalia taught lessons that might be applied to todays occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq. Since the beginning of the Cold War, the United States had committed military forces when needed all over the free world, sometimes in response to natural disasters, but often also in an attempt to prevent friendly governments from falling to communist forces. Sometimes the policy succeeded, as in South Korea in the early 1950s, and sometimes it failed, as in Vietnam in the 1960s and early 1970s. By 1992, however, the Cold War was over. The Soviet Union had split into fifteen parts, and other former communist countries such as Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia were also breaking up. International Communism seemed to have evaporated as a threat. U.S. President George H. W. Bush, aware that U.S. military forces were shrinking, could have reduced U.S. military commitments abroad. Instead, he increased them. In 1991, for example, the United States led an international coalition to drive Iraqi military forces out of Kuwait, which they had invaded and occupied the previous year. The President called for a new world order, a post-Cold War world in which the United States, as the only surviving superpower, would be the beneficent leader, working with the United Nations to aid the victims of natural and political disasters all over the world. In 1992, Americas armed forces took part in no less than twelve major humanitarian operations across the globe.
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