U.S. has Invaded and/or Bombed 14 Muslim Countries Since 1980

Monday, November 10, 2014
B1-B Lancer dropping cluster bombs (photo: U.S. Air Force)

Syria is merely the most recent of 14 countries in the Muslim world that U.S. forces have invaded or bombed since 1980, including 7 since Barack Obama becames president. Since President Obama announced last week that he would seek an Authorization for Use of Military Force in Iraq and Syria, it’s worth looking at how previous U.S. attacks have worked out.


President Jimmy Carter kicked them off when he announced that he would use force against Iran to ensure that the Persian Gulf didn’t fall into the “wrong” hands, according to a Washington Post op-ed by Andrew J. Bacevich, the George McGovern fellow at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. Then, the concern was keeping oil available to American consumers.


Subsequent events have taken the American military force into Libya (1981, 1986, 1989, 2011), Lebanon (1983), Kuwait (1991), Iraq (1991-2011, 2014-), Somalia (1992-1993, 2007-), Bosnia (1995), Saudi Arabia (1991, 1996), Afghanistan (1998, 2001-), Sudan (1998), Kosovo (1999), Yemen (2000, 2002-), Pakistan (2004-) and now Syria.


Few of these adventures have ended well, starting with the bombing of the Marine barracks in Lebanon in 1983 that killed 299 Marines and French servicemen, through Libya, which has descended into chaos since the U.S. intervened there in 2011 and now in Iraq and Syria, where the war begun by President George W. Bush for the stated purpose of finding (ultimately non-existent) weapons of mass destruction has spawned the Islamic State’s capture of vast amounts of territory in those countries.


“Want to measure what America’s war for the Middle East has accomplished through its first 13 iterations? The Islamic State has to rank prominently on any list of achievements,” Bacevich wrote. “If Iraq possessed minimally effective security forces, Islamic State militants wouldn’t have a chance. But the Iraqi army we created won’t fight, in considerable measure because the Iraqi government we created doesn’t govern.”


And now, how will Obama’s requested use of force end? Probably not well, according to Bacevich. “Obama’s bet—the same bet made by each of his predecessors, going back to Carter—is that the skillful application of U.S. military might can somehow provide a way out of this dilemma. They were wrong, and so is he.”

-Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

Even If We Defeat the Islamic State, We’ll Still Lose the Bigger War (by Andrew J. Bacevich, Washington Post)

How Many Muslim Countries Has The U.S. Bombed Or Occupied Since 1980? (by Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept)

Obama has Bombed 7 Muslim Countries…and 0 Christian Ones (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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