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For the large scale, as a starting point for consideration, check out the (Colin) Powell Doctrine which states a questions/conditions checklist before military force is used.


Is a vital national security interest threatened?

Do we have a clear attainable objective?

Have the risks and costs been fully and frankly analyzed?

Have all other non-violent policy means been fully exhausted?

Is there a plausible exit strategy to avoid endless entanglement?

Have the consequences of our action been fully considered?

Is the action supported by the American people?

Do we have genuine broad international support?


And I will add

#1 Do we have accurate intel of the whole situation? - players, supporters, resources, threat, allies, verified by ground surveillance/penetration (e.g. the belief that WMD were in Iraq and then never found).

#1a Do those proposing solutions have a conflict of interests?


My $0.02

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"Is there a plausible exit strategy to avoid endless entanglement?

this one always gets me, the fact that anyone believed that Iraq or Afghanistan would be short wars was sniffing some good campaign fumes. I would ask what our timely exit strategy is for Japan, Germany and Korea, oh yeah, we did essentially the same thing to them that we did to Iraq and Afghanistan and are still there 60+ years later. . .

to me it was not about the exit strategy or the reason we went in it was more about clear expectations in how long we would be there and what "victory" would be. Not done now we slink out of town, with tails between our legs.

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pchadbo, I agree about those two wars. That was one of the lies that I didn't buy...that Iraq would be a cakewalk of sorts.

I also remember Bush, during the first campaign, criticizing Clinton/Gore for "nation building" and promising that he wouldn't engage in such things. That's another big laugh.(This message has been edited by packsaddle)

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RememberSchiff, those sound pretty good, though I would hope that they are not all "required" in every case and that they are not all weighted equally. For example, if the national security (meaning, OUR national security) interest involved is really, really "vital" (not sure how you would define that), I don't really care so much whether there is international support, broad or otherwise. On the other hand, threats to other countries can be enough of a threat to OUR interests to justify action. Also, what do you do if it is deemed absolutely essential to our national security to take military action, but there is substantial opposition to it among the American people? And that can cut both ways -- for example, it could be argued that the U.S. should have gotten more directly involved in World War II in Europe before Pearl Harbor, but there was too much domestic opposition to do so. Pchadbo makes some good points about "exit strategy" as well.


As for "I know it when I see it," with credit given to Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_know_it_when_i_see_it


I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description ["hard-core pornography"]; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that.

Justice Potter Stewart, concurring opinion in Jacobellis v. Ohio 378 U.S. 184 (1964), regarding possible obscenity in The Lovers.


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NJ, I believe General Powell stated his doctrine some 20 years in the context of conventional 20th century nation military conflicts. Today we have terrorism which may or may not be state sponsored. I thought it interesting that he did not directly mention treaty and alliance obligations and our self designated role as world policeman.


By international support, maybe General Powell meant if not support at least no interference. When President Reagan ordered a bomber attack on Libya, it would have been helpful if France allowed our F-111'a to fly-over enroute from England to Libya. Ditto when Turkey denies us permission to use our bases there to attack Mideast targets. But probably more important is supply chain logistics, we don't have much of a merchant marine and foreign air carriers usually bring back our dead.


Support of the American people or constitution seems missing in Washington regarding military force.


My $0.01,

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Yah, hmmm....


In self defense.


In defense of others.


When authorized by Congress.


When no better alternatives exist.


When a tax to pay for the war and provide for the long-term care of soldiers and their families is passed so that we share a common sacrifice and burden.


When da children and grandchildren of Congressmen serve in equal proportion to da children of the poor.


When da war is prosecuted justly and with honor.


And (preferably) when da politicians stay out of military strategy. ;)




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This is slightly off topic but:

Don't send the Troops unless you are willing to let them do whatever is necessary to achieve the designated outcome. If this metric isn't met then you haven't reached far enough on the diplomatic spectrum to take what is arguably the final step of diplomacy.

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