Sunday 19 Aug 2018 | 20:33 | SYDNEY
Sunday 19 Aug 2018 | 20:33 | SYDNEY

More on military intervention


Sam Roggeveen


24 April 2008 11:20

Judah Grunstein at World Politics Review has responded to my post of yesterday. I suspect we're actually in furious agreement here, in that we both feel there has been too much emphasis on military solutions to political problems. My point was just that this emphasis is not surprising and may even continue, given that recent military failures have not been too catastrophic by historical standards, and that there have been a few successes as well. Note also that I meant 'military force' in the broadest sense, to include peacekeeping, though Grunstein seems to be talking more narrowly about what Pentagon types now call 'kinetic' operations.

Another reason to suspect that military activism will continue is that so many countries seem to be preparing for it. In Europe and Asia, countries that built their Cold War military capabilities solely around the need to repel a foreign invader are now rebuilding their forces for expeditionary operations. One good measure of this is the growth in large amphibious ships, which can carry hundreds of troops, helicopters, and usually have a sophisticated command centre and even a hospital on board.

'Amphibious ship' brings to mind beach landings like the Battle of Inchon. But that was the last real amphibious invasion*, and these days, such ships are more like national logistical assets, crucial for disaster relief, moving peacekeeping forces or evacuating civilians from a war zone. Off the top of my head, I can think of the following countries that have acquired (or are acquiring) such ships since the end of the Cold War: Italy, Spain, France, UK, The Netherlands, Australia, Thailand, Singapore, China, Japan, South Korea, South Africa.

And then there's the upcoming massive growth in European airlift capability, with NATO air forces poised to introduce almost 200 new A400M strategic transport planes, also perfect for foreign military interventions.

Disasters like Iraq and Afghanistan should certainly curb some enthusiasm for military adventurism, but the appetite for military intervention in foreign disputes may not have passed.

* My colleague Rodger Shanahan reminds me of the British amphibious operation to retake the Falklands.