Vladimir Putin has called Turkey “accomplices of terrorists” and warned of “serious consequences” after a Turkish F-16 jet shot down a Russian warplane on Tuesday morning, the first time a Nato country and Moscow have exchanged direct fire over the crisis in Syria.
The Russian president, speaking before a meeting with King Abdullah II of Jordan in Sochi, said the plane had been shot down over Syrian airspace and fell 4km inside Syria. Putin said it was “obvious” the plane posed no threat to Turkey.
“Our military is doing heroic work against terrorism … But the loss today is a stab in the back, carried out by the accomplices of terrorists. I can’t describe it in any other way,” he said. Putin suggested the Turks were shielding Islamic State terrorists from Russian attacks, saying: “Do they want to make Nato serve Isis?”
In Washington, Barack Obama said that Turkey had a right to defend its territory and airspace, but called on all parties to “step back” and ensure the situation does not escalate.
Speaking at a joint press conference with his French counterpart Francois Hollande, the US president said that the incident underlined the shortcomings of Russia’s operation in Syria. “The problem has been Russia’s focus on propping up Assad rather than concentrating on Isil,” he said, using an alternative name for the Islamic State terror group.
“Russian airstrikes against the moderate opposition only help to bolster Isil. Russia could play a more constructive role it if shifts the focus of its strikes,” he said.
Obama and Hollande both repeated calls for Russia to participate in efforts to reach a political solution to the Syrian crisis. “The sooner we agree to a political process, the less likely events like this will be,” Obama said.
Ankara and the Kremlin gave conflicting accounts of the incident, which appears to have occurred in an area near the Turkish-Syrian border straddling Iskenderun and Latakia.
The Turkish military said it scrambled two F-16 fighter jets after a plane entered Turkish airspace in the province of Hatay at 9.20am on Tuesday, warning it to leave 10 times in five minutes before shooting it down.
A government official said: “In line with the military rules of engagement, the Turkish authorities repeatedly warned an unidentified aircraft that they were 15km or less away from the border. The aircraft didn’t heed the warnings and proceeded to fly over Turkey. The Turkish air forces responded by downing the aircraft.
“This isn’t an action against any specific country: our F-16s took necessary steps to defend Turkey’s sovereign territory.”
The Turkish UN ambassador, Halit Cevik, told the UN Security Council in a letter that two planes had flow a mile into Turkey for 17 seconds. “Following the violation, plane 1 left Turkish national airspace. Plane 2 was fired at while in Turkish national airspace by Turkish F-16s performing air combat patrolling in the area,” he wrote.
Russia’s defence ministry, in a series of tweets, confirmed that a Russian Su-24 had been shot down, but insisted the plane had never left Syrian airspace and claimed that fire from the ground was responsible. “At all times, the Su-24 was exclusively over the territory of Syria,” the defence ministry said.
Surviving Russian crew member of downed jet is rescued in 12-hour mission and says there were no warnings
Turkish military releases recording of warning to Russian jet
The Turkish military has released what it says is an audio recording of a warning it gave to a Russian fighter jet before the aircraft was shot down near the Syrian border, hours after the surviving Russian crew member insisted there had been no contact.
A voice on the Turkish recording can be heard saying “change your heading”. But Konstantin Murakhtin, a navigator who was rescued in a joint operation by Syrian and Russian commandos, told Russian media: “There were no warnings, either by radio or visually. There was no contact whatsoever.”
He also denied entering Turkish airspace. “I could see perfectly on the map and on the ground where the border was and where we were. There was no danger of entering Turkey,” he said.
The apparent hardening of both countries’ versions of events came as Russian warplanes carried out heavy raids in Syria’s northern Latakia province, where the plane came down. Tuesday’s incident – the first time a Nato member state has shot down a Russian warplane since the Korean war – risks provoking a clash over the ongoing conflict in Syria, where Russia has intervened to prop up the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
A Turkish official said his country stood by its version of events. The Turkish military has said it delivered multiple warnings to the plane as it neared the border and shot it down after it entered the southern province of Hatay. “We shared concrete evidence of airspace violation with relevant international bodies,” the official said. “From where we stand, there’s nothing to discuss.”
Russian officials said earlier that Murakhtin, one of two airmen who ejected from the downed Su-24, was “alive and well” after a 12-hour rescue operation succeeded. The second airman was killed by gunfire from the ground, apparently from Syrian Turkmen fighters.
The Russian agency LifeNews said Murakhtin was found by an 18-man Syrian special forces team acting together with six members of an elite Hezbollah unit. It said he had hidden for many hours after landing, and was found by a radio signal.
A military source from the Syrian government said: “Special operations units from the Syrian Arab army conducted last night a special operation in which it penetrated areas where the terrorists are present and was able to rescue one of the pilots of the Russian plane.”
Speaking on Russian television after his rescue, Murakhtin said he knew the area where his plane came down “like the back of my hand”. He was receiving medical treatment and said he wanted to stay in Syria and continue flying missions.
The dead pilot was named by Russia as Lieutenant Colonel Oleg Peshkov. One of the rescue helicopters sent to search for the men was hit by rebel fire, forcing it to make an emergency landing. One of the marines on board, Alexander Pozynich, was killed.
Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, said Peshkov would be awarded the country’s highest military honour, the Hero of Russia award. The Order of Courage would be awarded to Murakhtin and posthumously to Pozynich.
Russia has repeatedly said its plane did not enter Turkish airspace. On Tuesday Putin said the downing of the plane was a “stab in the back by the accomplices of terrorists” and promised “serious consequences”.
Turkey said the plane entered its airspace for 17 seconds, in what it said was the latest in a string of provocative attacks on Ankara-backed Turkmen fighters close to the Turkish border. Last Friday the Turkish foreign ministry summoned Russia’s ambassador to complain about the incursions.
Russian warplane: radar track
The attack looked like a “pre-planned provocation”, and even if Turkish claims that the plane had strayed into Turkish airspace proved to be correct, there were no grounds for shooting it down. ~ Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, repeated his insistence that the Russian jet was in Turkish airspace when it was shot down and said parts of the wreckage fell into Turkey, injuring two people. Ankara had no wish to escalate the incident and was only defending “our own security and the rights of our brothers” in Syria, he said.
The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, said he had spoken to his Turkish counterpart for around an hour on Wednesday. He said the attack looked like a “pre-planned provocation”, and even if Turkish claims that the plane had strayed into Turkish airspace proved to be correct, there were no grounds for shooting it down.
Later, in a telephone call with John Kerry, the US secretary of state, Lavrov said Turkey’s actions were a “gross violation” of an agreement between Moscow and Washington on air space safety over Syria. The state department said Kerry called for calm and more dialogue between Turkish and Russian officials.
In Moscow, a crowd of youths gathered outside the Turkish embassy and threw rocks. Some of the ground-floor windows in the building were broken. Police at the scene did not make arrests, according to witnesses.
Russian officials made it clear that despite the fury the reaction would be measured. There is no talk of a military response, and no suggestion that diplomatic relations could be cut or the Turkish ambassador expelled from Moscow. However, the tone of relations between the two countries is likely to change dramatically.
Lavrov cancelled a visit to Istanbul planned for Wednesday, and recommended Russian citizens not travel to Turkey because of the terrorist threat.
Russia’s state tourism agency said it was banning all tour operators from offering holidays in Turkey. There has been no suggestion of cutting air links, but anysuch move would hurt the Turkish economy. About four million Russians a year visit Turkey, mainly for tourism.
A Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, hit out at the US state department official Mark Toner, who said the Turkmen fighters who shot the Russian airman as he parachuted to the ground could have been acting in self defence. “Remember these words, remember them forever. I will never forget them, I promise,” Zakharova wrote on Facebook.
Also on Wednesday, Russia announced it would send its latest air-defence system, the S-400, to its base at Latakia to back up Russian air operations in Syria. The defence ministry has vowed to continue its strikes on Islamic State. Moscow says it is fighting Isis, but western capitals have said the majority of the strikes appear to be targeting other groups.
Syria: recent Russian airstrikes
Assad: Syrian troops advancing thanks to Russian airstrikes
By ALBERT AJI and BASSEM MROUE November 22, 2015 12:54 PM
DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Syrian President Bashar Assad says his forces are advancing on “almost” all fronts thanks to Russian airstrikes that began nearly two months ago and have tipped the balance in his favor in some parts of the country.
In remarks published Sunday, Assad told China’s Phoenix Television that the Russians depend on Syrian ground forces and “cooperate with us.” He added that Syrian troops had achieved victories in some areas before the strikes began but “could not be present everywhere in Syria.”
Russia, which has conducted an air campaign in Syria since Sept. 30, sharply raised its intensity in recent days on President Vladimir Putin’s orders after Moscow said it had confirmed that a bomb brought down a Russian plane over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 people on board.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack.
“Following the participation of Russian air force in fighting terrorism, the situation improved well. I can say that the army now is advancing almost on every front,” Assad said in the interview, which was also carried by Syrian state media.
Assad said the Russian airstrikes are more effective than those of the U.S.-led coalition because Moscow is coordinating with his government, saying “you cannot fight terrorism with airstrikes alone.”
Syrian troops have captured dozens of villages in northern and western Syria since the Russian airstrikes began. Their biggest victory so far has been lifting a three-year siege imposed on the military air base of Kweiras by extremist groups in the northern province of Aleppo.
The Russian strikes have not only targeted the Islamic State group, but also Syrian insurgents battling to overthrow Assad, including some Western-backed groups.
Asked if he is going to run for president again if early elections are held, Assad said: “It is my right but it is early to say whether I will run or not.” He added that “I will not say that I will not run if I see that this is needed.”
A peace plan agreed to last weekend by 17 nations meeting in Vienna says nothing about Assad’s future, but states that “free and fair elections would be held pursuant to the new constitution within 18 months.”
To clarify the timeline, the U.S. State Department said last week that the clock starts once Assad’s representatives and opposition figures begin talks on a constitution. The vote would determine a new parliament, though not necessarily a new president.
In this image made from video provided by Hadi Al-Abdallah, which has been verified and is consisten …
More than 250,000 people have been killed since the start of Syria’s 2011 uprising, which began as a series of mostly peaceful protests but escalated into an armed revolt against Assad after a harsh government crackdown. Syrian rebels have demanded that Assad step down as part of any agreement to end the fighting.
On Sunday, a motorcycle rigged with explosives blew up in the northern Syrian town of Tal Abyad near the Turkish border, killing at least two people and wounding more than 20, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Local Coordination Committees. The two groups track Syria’s civil war based on reports from activists inside the country.
Kurdish fighters captured Tal Abyad from IS militants in July.
The Observatory said Sunday that airstrikes believed to be carried out by Russian warplanes have struck near oil fields in the eastern province of Deir el-Zour. Moscow last week announced the targeting of oil facilities and tanker trucks to try and deprive IS of one of its main sources of income.
In the central province of Hama, meanwhile, the militant Jund al-Aqsa group handed over the bodies of 30 Syrian soldiers in exchange for six female prisoners held by Syrian authorities, according to the Observatory and opposition activist Hadi Abdallah.
Abdallah posted a video on his Facebook page showing the exchange, which was carried out by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent.
Mroue reported from Beirut.
Rebels kill Russia pilot, down chopper: Syria opposition, monitor
One Russian pilot of a warplane downed by Turkey in Syria on Tuesday was killed by rebels and the second is missing after they both parachuted, rebel and opposition sources said. A Russian helicopter was also blown up by rebels following an emergency landing in the Syrian government-held territory…
Russia accuses Turkey of ‘provocation’ as pilot denies warning
Russia on Wednesday accused Turkey of a “planned provocation” over the downing of a warplane on the Syrian border as a rescued pilot claimed that no warning had been given. As the diplomatic fallout from Tuesday’s incident raged on, Ankara sought to play down tensions and its allies in NATO issued…
Moscow and the west are still at odds over whether Assad is part of the problem or the solution to the Syrian crisis. The French president, François Hollande, will travel to Moscow on Thursday for meetings with Putin to discuss coordinating action to fight Isis.
Activists said there were ongoing clashes on Wednesday in the northern Latakia countryside where the plane fell, as well as airstrikes by either Russian or Syrian warplanes. Jahed Ahmad, a spokesman for a rebel brigade in the region affiliated with the Free Syrian Army, said the Russians appeared to be taking revenge for the plane’s downing by Turkey and were providing cover for advancing Syrian ground forces and their Lebanese Hezbollah allies.
The area has long been a flashpoint of battles between the Syrian government and an alliance of rebels that includes Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaida’s wing in Syria. The region straddles the Syrian-Turkish border that separates Latakia and Hatay in southern Turkey. The city of Latakia is one of the Assad regime’s redoubts and a key part of its sphere of control in western Syria.
A U.S. Marine on patrol. (Rebecca Sell/For The Washington Post)
Rosa Brooks, a law professor at Georgetown University and a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, was an Obama administration appointee at the Defense Department from 2009 to 2011. She is married to an Army Special Forces officer.
Each time I hear President Obama assure us that there will be “no boots on the ground” in Iraq or Syria, I think of my husband’s Army boots, lying in a heap in the corner of the downstairs study. They’re covered in fine dust from his latest Middle East deployment, one that came nail-bitingly close to being extended by an unplanned stint in Iraq.
In the end, he wasn’t sent back to Iraq. He came home in July, though a last-minute change in assignments left most of his civilian clothes stranded in some Army transport netherworld. Deprived of his sneakers and sandals, he wore his Army boots pretty much everywhere this summer, even on playground outings with the kids. Watching grass stains from the local park gradually displace nine months of Kuwaiti dust gave me more happiness than I can say.
Even so, I can’t help feeling queasy every time I hear the president pledge that there will be “no boots on the ground” in America’s newest war. I wonder what that pledge really means — and just why we’re supposed to find it reassuring. It’s a pledge that seems to have everything to do with politics and little to do with the imperatives of strategy or security.
Here’s what “no boots on the ground” apparently doesn’t mean: It doesn’t mean that no U.S. troops will be sent to Iraq or Syria. Reportedly there are already 1,600 U.S. military personnel in Iraq. True, they’re present in an “advisory” role, not in a combat role — but surely one lesson of Iraq and Afghanistan is that combat has a habit of finding its way to noncombat personnel. Enemy snipers and IEDs don’t much care about a soldier’s mission or occupational specialty, and you can bet that fighters of the self-proclaimed Islamic State would be content with the heads of a few American advisers.
It’s also hard to know what publicly reported troop numbers really mean. When the Pentagon issues a Boots on the Ground report (known colloquially as a “BOG report”), it often excludes military personnel on “temporary duty” in combat areas, even though temporary duty may mean an assignment spanning five or six months. Similarly, Special Operations personnel assigned to work under CIA auspices are often left out of the BOG numbers. This makes it hard to know just who’s being counted when officials say there are 1,600 military personnel in Iraq.
“No boots on the ground” also ignores the many nonmilitary American boots (and shoes and sandals) present in Iraq and Syria. Our Baghdad embassy personnel presumably wear some kind of footwear, as do thousands more civilians working as U.S. government contractors in Iraq. In both Iraq and Syria, scores of American civilians also work for nongovernmental organizations and humanitarian aid groups.
The Pentagon keeps careful count of dead and wounded U.S. troops, but the government doesn’t systematically track dead or injured civilians or contractors (many of whom, of course, are U.S. military veterans). Though few Americans know it, there were often more contractors working for the U.S. government on the ground than there were U.S. troops at the height of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and some estimates suggest that there were as many U.S.-employed contractors who died in those conflicts as there were U.S. troops killed.
Cynics might even suspect that this heavy reliance on contractors was part of an effort to keep those BOG numbers down while outsourcing military risk. After all, no one likes high BOG numbers — the very acronym is suggestive of that most dreaded military outcome, the “quagmire.”
If “no boots on the ground” means playing games with numbers and offloading military risk onto U.S. government civilians and contractors, we should take little solace in presidential reassurances.
And we should feel even less comfort if “no boots on the ground” ends up putting vulnerable local civilians at risk. Remember Kosovo? President Bill Clinton’s refusal in 1999 to put U.S. troops on the ground forced us to rely solely on airstrikes to prevent Serbian ethnic cleansing. To further minimize any risk to U.S. military personnel, we mainly flew sorties at a safe 15,000 feet above the ground. This worked out well for us: Aside from two Americans killed in a helicopter accident in Albania, there were no U.S. fatalities in the 78-day air campaign. It worked out less well for some of the civilians we were trying to protect; in several cases, for instance, NATO pilots mistook convoys of refugees for troop transports, causing scores of civilian deaths.
The primary goal of the current U.S. airstrikes in Syria and Iraq isn’t civilian protection, but Obama has suggested that this is at least a secondary motivation. In his speech this past week to the U.N. General Assembly, for instance, he asserted that the Islamic State “has terrorized all who they come across in Iraq and Syria. Mothers, sisters and daughters have been subjected to rape as a weapon of war. Innocent children have been gunned down. . . . Religious minorities have been starved to death. In the most horrific crimes imaginable, innocent human beings have been beheaded. . . . The only language understood by killers like this is the language of force. So the United States of America will work with a broad coalition to dismantle this network of death.”
It’s hard to argue with the importance of dismantling a “network of death,” but no matter how careful we are, U.S. airstrikes in Syria and Iraq will also end up killing some innocent civilians. Without eyes and ears on the ground, we’re more likely to make tragic targeting mistakes. We have to hope we’ll do more good than harm, but it’s hard to feel confident of that.
Numerous respected military and defense leaders — from Army Gen. Martin Dempsey , current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to retired defense secretary Robert Gates — have argued in recent weeks that ground troops will probably be required if our strategy is to be effective. So far, events seem to be proving them right: In Iraq, seven weeks of airstrikes have done little to push Islamic State fighters out of the territories they control, despite close U.S. coordination with Iraqi army units. In Syria, we have no similar local force with which to coordinate, creating a risk that U.S. airstrikes will increase the chaos without fundamentally reducing the threat to local civilians — or, in the longer term, to the United States.And that’s most worrisome of all — the possibility that our insistence on “no boots on the ground” also offloads present risks onto the future. Relying on airstrikes alone may merely prolong a bloody and inconclusive conflict, or strengthen other actors who are just as brutal as Islamic State fighters, from the regime of Bashar al-Assad to the al-Qaeda-linked rebels of Jabhat al-Nusra.Insisting that we’ll never commit U.S. troops to this fight plays right into every jihadist narrative, reinforcing America’s image as an arrogant but cowardly nation — happy to drop bombs from a distance but unwilling to risk the lives of our troops. Each time we reinforce that narrative, we give jihadist recruiting another big boost.
For a decade, we’ve relied on drone strikes as a top counterterrorism tool in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, but a few thousand dead terrorism suspects later, it’s far from clear that we’ve made ourselves safer. If anything, the global jihadist movement appears to have gained strength. As a former Defense Intelligence Agency director, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, recently noted: “In 2004, there were 21 total Islamic terrorist groups spread out in 18 countries. Today, there are 41 Islamic terrorist groups spread out in 24 countries.” Ultimately, our efforts to destroy the Islamic State from afar may similarly spark the creation of even more jihadist groups.
“I will not commit you . . . to fighting another ground war in Iraq,” Obama told troops at Central Command headquarters this month. I appreciate his desire to do right by America’s military personnel: My husband’s boots, like those of so many other members of the armed forces, have already gathered too much dust in too many dangerous places, over too many years. Right now, I want those boots to stay exactly where they are: here, at home.
But I don’t want to trade the safety of U.S. troops today for the safety of our children tomorrow. If Obama’s promise of “no boots on the ground” means we’ll be fighting a war of half-measures — a war that won’t achieve our objectives and that may increase the long-term threat — I’m not sure, in the end, that it’s a promise I want him to keep.
2742089 11/20/2015 November 20, 2015. Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a video conference with Russian military personnel engaged in the Syria operation. Michael Klimentyev/Sputnik
Turkey backstabbed Russia by downing the Russian warplane and acted as accomplices of the terrorists, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.
“This incident stands out against the usual fight against terrorism. Our troops are fighting heroically against terrorists, risking their lives. But the loss we suffered today came from a stab in the back delivered by accomplices of the terrorists,” Putin said.
#SYRIA#Rudskoy Objective monitoring data confirmed no attempts of Turkish plane to establish communication or visual contact with Rus crew
Жители столицы провели митинг протеста у посольства Турции в Москве
Putin said the plane was hit by a Turkish warplane as it was traveling at an altitude of 6000 meters about a kilometer from the Turkish border. It was hit by an air-to-air missile launched by a Turkish F-16 jet. The crash site is four kilometers from the border. The plane posed no threat to Turkish national security, he stressed.
Putin said the plane was targeting terrorist targets in the Latakia province of Syria, many of whom came from Russia.
Russia has for a long time been aware of oil going from Syria under the control of terrorists to Turkey, Putin said. The money finances terrorist groups.
“IS has big money, hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars, from selling oil. In addition they are protected by the military of an entire nation. One can understand why they are acting so boldly and blatantly. Why they kill people in such atrocious ways. Why they commit terrorist acts across the world, including in the heart of Europe,” the Russian leader said.
The downing of the Russian warplane happened despite Russia signing an agreement with the US to prevent such incidents in Syria, Putin stressed. Turkey claims to be part of the US-led coalition fighting against IS in Syria, he added.
The incident will have grave consequences for Russia’s relations with Turkey, Putin warned.
“We have always treated Turkey as not only a close neighbor, but also as a friendly nation,” he said. “I don’t know who has an interest in what happened today, but we certainly don’t.”
The fact that Turkey did not try to contact Russia in the wake of the incident and rushed to call a NATO meeting instead is worrisome, Putin said. It appears that Turkey want NATO to serve the interests of IS, he added.
The following is a partial list of U.S. military interventions from 1890 to 2014.
Below the list is a Briefing on the History of U.S. Military Interventions.
The list and briefing are also available as a powerpoint presentation.
This guide does not include:
mobilizations of the National Guard
offshore shows of naval strength
reinforcements of embassy personnel
the use of non-Defense Department personnel (such as the Drug Enforcement Administration)
non-combat mobilizations (such as replacing postal strikers)
the permanent stationing of armed forces
covert actions where the U.S. did not play a command and control role
the use of small hostage rescue units
most uses of proxy troops
U.S. piloting of foreign warplanes
foreign or domestic disaster assistance
military training and advisory programs not involving direct combat
civic action programs
and many other military activities.
Among sources used, beside news reports, are the Congressional Record (23 June 1969), 180 Landings by the U.S. Marine Corp History Division, Ege & Makhijani in Counterspy (July-Aug, 1982), “Instances of Use of United States Forces Abroad, 1798-1993” by Ellen C. Collier of the Library of Congress Congressional Research Service, and Ellsberg in Protest & Survive.
Versions of this list have been published on Zmag.org, Neravt.com, and numerous other websites.
Translations of list: Spanish French Turkish Italian Chinese Greek Russian Czech Tamil Portuguese
Quotes in Christian Science Monitor and The Independent
Turkish newspaper urges that the United States be listed in Guinness Book of World Records as the Country with the Most Foreign Interventions.
COUNTRY OR STATE Dates of intervention Forces Comments
SOUTH DAKOTA 1890 (-?) Troops 300 Lakota Indians massacred at Wounded Knee.
ARGENTINA 1890 Troops Buenos Aires interests protected.
CHILE 1891 Troops Marines clash with nationalist rebels.
HAITI 1891 Troops Black revolt on Navassa defeated.
IDAHO 1892 Troops Army suppresses silver miners’ strike.
HAWAII 1893 (-?) Naval, troops Independent kingdom overthrown, annexed.
CHICAGO 1894 Troops Breaking of rail strike, 34 killed.
NICARAGUA 1894 Troops Month-long occupation of Bluefields.
CHINA 1894-95 Naval, troops Marines land in Sino-Japanese War
KOREA 1894-96 Troops Marines kept in Seoul during war.
PANAMA 1895 Troops, naval Marines land in Colombian province.
NICARAGUA 1896 Troops Marines land in port of Corinto.
CHINA 1898-1900 Troops Boxer Rebellion fought by foreign armies.
PHILIPPINES 1898-1910 (-?) Naval, troops Seized from Spain, killed 600,000 Filipinos
CUBA 1898-1902 (-?) Naval, troops Seized from Spain, still hold Navy base.
PUERTO RICO 1898 (-?) Naval, troops Seized from Spain, occupation continues.
GUAM 1898 (-?) Naval, troops Seized from Spain, still use as base.
MINNESOTA 1898 (-?) Troops Army battles Chippewa at Leech Lake.
NICARAGUA 1898 Troops Marines land at port of San Juan del Sur.
SAMOA 1899 (-?) Troops Battle over succession to throne.
NICARAGUA 1899 Troops Marines land at port of Bluefields.
IDAHO 1899-1901 Troops Army occupies Coeur d’Alene mining region.
OKLAHOMA 1901 Troops Army battles Creek Indian revolt.
PANAMA 1901-14 Naval, troops Broke off from Colombia 1903, annexed Canal Zone; Opened canal 1914.
HONDURAS 1903 Troops Marines intervene in revolution.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 1903-04 Troops U.S. interests protected in Revolution.
KOREA 1904-05 Troops Marines land in Russo-Japanese War.
CUBA 1906-09 Troops Marines land in democratic election.
NICARAGUA 1907 Troops “Dollar Diplomacy” protectorate set up.
HONDURAS 1907 Troops Marines land during war with Nicaragua
PANAMA 1908 Troops Marines intervene in election contest.
NICARAGUA 1910 Troops Marines land in Bluefields and Corinto.
HONDURAS 1911 Troops U.S. interests protected in civil war.
CHINA 1911-41 Naval, troops Continuous occupation with flare-ups.
CUBA 1912 Troops U.S. interests protected in civil war.
PANAMA 1912 Troops Marines land during heated election.
HONDURAS 1912 Troops Marines protect U.S. economic interests.
NICARAGUA 1912-33 Troops, bombing 10-year occupation, fought guerillas
MEXICO 1913 Naval Americans evacuated during revolution.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 1914 Naval Fight with rebels over Santo Domingo.
COLORADO 1914 Troops Breaking of miners’ strike by Army.
MEXICO 1914-18 Naval, troops Series of interventions against nationalists.
HAITI 1914-34 Troops, bombing 19-year occupation after revolts.
TEXAS 1915 Troops Federal soldiers crush “Plan of San Diego” Mexican-American rebellion
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 1916-24 Troops 8-year Marine occupation.
CUBA 1917-33 Troops Military occupation, economic protectorate.
WORLD WAR I 1917-18 Naval, troops Ships sunk, fought Germany for 1 1/2 years.
RUSSIA 1918-22 Naval, troops Five landings to fight Bolsheviks
PANAMA 1918-20 Troops “Police duty” during unrest after elections.
HONDURAS 1919 Troops Marines land during election campaign.
YUGOSLAVIA 1919 Troops/Marines intervene for Italy against Serbs in Dalmatia.
GUATEMALA 1920 Troops 2-week intervention against unionists.
WEST VIRGINIA 1920-21 Troops, bombing Army intervenes against mineworkers.
TURKEY 1922 Troops Fought nationalists in Smyrna.
CHINA 1922-27 Naval, troops Deployment during nationalist revolt.
Airpower defends Calles from rebellion
Landed twice during election strife.
PANAMA 1925 Troops Marines suppress general strike.
CHINA 1927-34 Troops Marines stationed throughout the country.
EL SALVADOR 1932 Naval Warships send during Marti revolt.
WASHINGTON DC 1932 Troops Army stops WWI vet bonus protest.
WORLD WAR II 1941-45 Naval, troops, bombing, nuclear Hawaii bombed, fought Japan, Italy and Germay for 3 years; first nuclear war.
DETROIT 1943 Troops Army put down Black rebellion.
IRAN 1946 Nuclear threat Soviet troops told to leave north.
YUGOSLAVIA 1946 Nuclear threat, naval Response to shoot-down of US plane.
URUGUAY 1947 Nuclear threat Bombers deployed as show of strength.
GREECE 1947-49 Command operation U.S. directs extreme-right in civil war.
GERMANY 1948 Nuclear Threat Atomic-capable bombers guard Berlin Airlift.
CHINA 1948-49 Troops/Marines evacuate Americans before Communist victory.
PHILIPPINES 1948-54 Command operation CIA directs war against Huk Rebellion.
PUERTO RICO 1950 Command operation Independence rebellion crushed in Ponce.
KOREA 1951-53 (-?) Troops, naval, bombing , nuclear threats U.S./So. Korea fights China/No. Korea to stalemate; A-bomb threat in 1950, and against China in 1953. Still have bases.
IRAN 1953 Command Operation CIA overthrows democracy, installs Shah.
VIETNAM 1954 Nuclear threat French offered bombs to use against seige.
GUATEMALA 1954 Command operation, bombing, nuclear threat CIA directs exile invasion after new gov’t nationalized U.S. company lands; bombers based in Nicaragua.
EGYPT 1956 Nuclear threat, troops Soviets told to keep out of Suez crisis; Marines evacuate foreigners.
LEBANON l958 Troops, naval Army & Marine occupation against rebels.
IRAQ 1958 Nuclear threat Iraq warned against invading Kuwait.
CHINA l958 Nuclear threat China told not to move on Taiwan isles.
PANAMA 1958 Troops Flag protests erupt into confrontation.
VIETNAM l960-75 Troops, naval, bombing, nuclear threats Fought South Vietnam revolt & North Vietnam; one million killed in longest U.S. war; atomic bomb threats in l968 and l969.
CUBA l961 Command operation CIA-directed exile invasion fails.
GERMANY l961 Nuclear threat Alert during Berlin Wall crisis.
LAOS 1962 Command operation Military buildup during guerrilla war.
CUBA l962 Nuclear threat, naval Blockade during missile crisis; near-war with Soviet Union.
IRAQ 1963 Command operation CIA organizes coup that killed president, brings Ba’ath Party to power, and Saddam Hussein back from exile to be head of the secret service.
PANAMA l964 Troops Panamanians shot for urging canal’s return.
INDONESIA l965 Command operation Million killed in CIA-assisted army coup.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 1965-66 Troops, bombing Army & Marines land during election campaign.
GUATEMALA l966-67 Command operation Green Berets intervene against rebels.
DETROIT l967 Troops Army battles African Americans, 43 killed.
UNITED STATES l968 Troops After King is shot; over 21,000 soldiers in cities.
CAMBODIA l969-75 Bombing, troops, naval Up to 2 million killed in decade of bombing, starvation, and political chaos.
OMAN l970 Command operation U.S. directs Iranian marine invasion.
LAOS l971-73 Command operation, bombing U.S. directs South Vietnamese invasion; “carpet-bombs” countryside.
SOUTH DAKOTA l973 Command operation Army directs Wounded Knee siege of Lakotas.
MIDEAST 1973 Nuclear threat World-wide alert during Mideast War.
CHILE 1973 Command operation CIA-backed coup ousts elected marxist president.
CAMBODIA l975 Troops, bombing Gassing of captured ship Mayagüez, 28 troops die when copter shot down.
ANGOLA l976-92 Command operation CIA assists South African-backed rebels.
IRAN l980 Troops, nuclear threat, aborted bombing Raid to rescue Embassy hostages; 8 troops die in copter-plane crash. Soviets warned not to get involved in revolution.
LIBYA l981 Naval jets Two Libyan jets shot down in maneuvers.
EL SALVADOR l981-92 Command operation, troops Advisors, overflights aid anti-rebel war, soldiers briefly involved in hostage clash.
NICARAGUA l981-90 Command operation, naval CIA directs exile (Contra) invasions, plants harbor mines against revolution.
LEBANON l982-84 Naval, bombing, troops Marines expel PLO and back Phalangists, Navy bombs and shells Muslim positions. 241 Marines killed when Shi’a rebel bombs barracks.
GRENADA l983-84 Troops, bombing Invasion four years after revolution.
HONDURAS l983-89 Troops Maneuvers help build bases near borders.
IRAN l984 Jets Two Iranian jets shot down over Persian Gulf.
LIBYA l986 Bombing, naval Air strikes to topple Qaddafi gov’t.
BOLIVIA 1986 Troops Army assists raids on cocaine region.
IRAN l987-88 Naval, bombing US intervenes on side of Iraq in war, defending reflagged tankers and shooting down civilian jet.
LIBYA 1989 Naval jets Two Libyan jets shot down.
VIRGIN ISLANDS 1989 Troops St. Croix Black unrest after storm.
PHILIPPINES 1989 Jets Air cover provided for government against coup.
PANAMA 1989 (-?) Troops, bombing Nationalist government ousted by 27,000 soldiers, leaders arrested, 2000+ killed.
LIBERIA 1990 Troops Foreigners evacuated during civil war.
SAUDI ARABIA 1990-91 Troops, jets Iraq countered after invading Kuwait. 540,000 troops also stationed in Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, UAE, Israel.
IRAQ 1990-91 Bombing, troops, naval Blockade of Iraqi and Jordanian ports, air strikes; 200,000+ killed in invasion of Iraq and Kuwait; large-scale destruction of Iraqi military.
KUWAIT 1991 Naval, bombing, troops Kuwait royal family returned to throne.
IRAQ 1991-2003 Bombing, naval No-fly zone over Kurdish north, Shiite south; constant air strikes and naval-enforced economic sanctions
LOS ANGELES 1992 Troops Army, Marines deployed against anti-police uprising.
SOMALIA 1992-94 Troops, naval, bombing U.S.-led United Nations occupation during civil war; raids against one Mogadishu faction.
YUGOSLAVIA 1992-94 Naval NATO blockade of Serbia and Montenegro.
BOSNIA 1993-? Jets, bombing No-fly zone patrolled in civil war; downed jets, bombed Serbs.
HAITI 1994 Troops, naval Blockade against military government; troops restore President Aristide to office three years after coup.
ZAIRE (CONGO) 1996-97 Troops Troops at Rwandan Hutu refugee camps, in area where Congo revolution begins.
LIBERIA 1997 Troops Soldiers under fire during evacuation of foreigners.
ALBANIA 1997 Troops Soldiers under fire during evacuation of foreigners.
SUDAN 1998 Missiles Attack on pharmaceutical plant alleged to be “terrorist” nerve gas plant.
AFGHANISTAN 1998 Missiles Attack on former CIA training camps used by Islamic fundamentalist groups alleged to have attacked embassies.
IRAQ 1998 Bombing, Missiles Four days of intensive air strikes after weapons inspectors allege Iraqi obstructions.
YUGOSLAVIA 1999 Bombing, Missiles Heavy NATO air strikes after Serbia declines to withdraw from Kosovo. NATO occupation of Kosovo.
YEMEN 2000 Naval USS Cole, docked in Aden, bombed.
MACEDONIA 2001 Troops NATO forces deployed to move and disarm Albanian rebels.
UNITED STATES 2001 Jets, naval Reaction to hijacker attacks on New York, DC
AFGHANISTAN 2001-? Troops, bombing, missiles Massive U.S. mobilization to overthrow Taliban, hunt Al Qaeda fighters, install Karzai regime, and battle Taliban insurgency. More than 30,000 U.S. troops and numerous private security contractors carry our occupation.
YEMEN 2002 Missiles Predator drone missile attack on Al Qaeda, including a US citizen.
PHILIPPINES 2002-? Troops, naval Training mission for Philippine military fighting Abu Sayyaf rebels evolves into combat missions in Sulu Archipelago, west of Mindanao.
COLOMBIA 2003-? Troops US special forces sent to rebel zone to back up Colombian military protecting oil pipeline.
IRAQ 2003-11 Troops, naval, bombing, missiles Saddam regime toppled in Baghdad. More than 250,000 U.S. personnel participate in invasion. US and UK forces occupy country and battle Sunni and Shi’ite insurgencies. More than 160,000 troops and numerous private contractors carry out occupation and build large permanent bases.
LIBERIA 2003 Troops Brief involvement in peacekeeping force as rebels drove out leader.
HAITI 2004-05 Troops, naval Marines & Army land after right-wing rebels oust elected President Aristide, who was advised to leave by Washington.
PAKISTAN 2005-? Missiles, bombing, covert operation CIA missile and air strikes and Special Forces raids on alleged Al Qaeda and Taliban refuge villages kill multiple civilians. Drone attacks also on Pakistani Mehsud network.
SOMALIA 2006-? Missiles, naval, troops, command operation Special Forces advise Ethiopian invasion that topples Islamist government; AC-130 strikes, Cruise missile attacks and helicopter raids against Islamist rebels; naval blockade against “pirates” and insurgents.
SYRIA 2008 Troops Special Forces in helicopter raid 5 miles from Iraq kill 8 Syrian civilians
YEMEN 2009-? Missiles, command operation Cruise missile attack on Al Qaeda kills 49 civilians; Yemeni military assaults on rebels
LIBYA 2011-? Bombing, missiles, troops, command operation NATO coordinates air strikes and missile attacks against Qaddafi government during uprising by rebel army. Periodic Special Forces raids against Islamist insurgents.
IRAQ 2014-? Bombing, missiles, troops, command operation
Air strikes and Special Forces intervene against Islamic State insurgents; training Iraqi and Kurdish troops.
SYRIA 2014-? Bombing, missiles, troops, command operation
Air strikes and Special Forces intervene against Islamic State insurgents; training other Syrian insurgents.
(Death toll estimates from 20th-century wars can be found in the Historical Atlas of the 20th Century by alphabetized places index, map series, and major casualties .)
A BRIEFING ON THE HISTORY
OF U.S. MILITARY INTERVENTIONS
By Zoltán Grossman, October 2001
Published in Z magazine. Translations in Italian Polish
Residents of Syria’s Idlib province examine building damaged in air strikes on September 24. The United States and its Arab allies have opened a new front in the battle against Islamic State militants. (Ammar Abdullah/Reuters)
Andrew J. Bacevich, the George McGovern fellow at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, is writing a history of U. S. military involvement in the Greater Middle East.
As America’s efforts to “degrade and ultimately destroy” Islamic State militants extend into Syria, Iraq War III has seamlessly morphed into Greater Middle East Battlefield XIV. That is, Syria has become at least the 14th country in the Islamic world that U.S. forces have invaded or occupied or bombed, and in which American soldiers have killed or been killed. And that’s just since 1980.
Let’s tick them off: Iran (1980, 1987-1988), 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. Whew.
With our 14th front barely opened, the Pentagon foresees a campaign likely to last for years. Yet even at this early date, this much already seems clear: Even if we win, we lose. Defeating the Islamic State would only commit the United States more deeply to a decades-old enterprise that has proved costly and counterproductive.
Back in 1980, President Jimmy Carter touched things off when he announced that the United States would use force to prevent the Persian Gulf from falling into the wrong hands. In effect, with the post-Ottoman order created by European imperialists — chiefly the British — after World War I apparently at risk, the United States made a fateful decision: It shouldered responsibility for preventing that order from disintegrating further. Britain’s withdrawal from “east of Suez,” along with the revolution in Iran and the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, prompted Washington to insert itself into a region in which it previously avoided serious military involvement.
At the time, oil — not freedom, democracy or human rights — defined the principal American interest, and stability was the goal. Military power offered the means by which the United States hoped to attain that goal. Armed might would keep a lid on things. The pot might simmer, but it wouldn’t boil over.
In practice, however, whether putting boots on the ground or relying on missiles from above, subsequent U.S. efforts to promote stability have tended to produce just the opposite. Part of the problem is that American policymakers have repeatedly given in to the temptation to unleash a bit of near-term chaos, betting that longer-term order will emerge on the other end.
Back in Vietnam, this was known as burning down the village to save it. In the Greater Middle East, it has meant dismantling a country with the aim of erecting something more preferable — “regime change” as a prelude to “nation building.” Unfortunately, the United States has proved considerably more adept at the former than the latter.
Mostly, coercive regime change has produced power vacuums. Iraq offers a glaring example. Although studiously ignored by Washington, post-Gaddafi Libya offers a second. And unless the gods are in an exceptionally generous mood, Afghanistan will probably become a third whenever U.S. and NATO combat troops finally depart.
In place of governing arrangements that Washington judged objectionable, the United States has found itself coping with the absence of any effective governments whatsoever. Instead of curbing bad behavior, spanking induced all sorts of pathologies.
By inadvertently sowing instability, the United States has played directly into the hands of anti-Western radical Islamists intent on supplanting the European-imposed post-Ottoman order with something more to their liking. This is the so-called caliphate that Osama bin Laden yearned to create and that now exists in embryonic form in the portions of Iraq and Syria that Islamic State radicals control.
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. 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.
Kurdish fighters defending Kobane warn of a likely massacre by Islamic State insurgents, while Turkey says it will do whatever it can to prevent the Syrian border town from falling. (Reuters)
President Obama did not initiate the long and varied sequence of military actions that has produced this situation. Yet he finds himself caught in a dilemma. To give the Islamic State a free hand is to allow proponents of the caliphate to exploit the instability that U.S. efforts, some involving Obama himself, have fostered. But to make Syria the latest free-fire zone in America’s never-ending Middle East misadventure will almost surely prolong and exacerbate the agonies that country is experiencing, with little ability to predict what consequences will ensue.
Even if U.S. and allied forces succeed in routing this militant group, there is little reason to expect that the results for Syrians will be pretty — or that the prospects of regional harmony will improve. Suppress the symptoms, and the disease simply manifests itself in other ways. There is always another Islamic State waiting in the wings.
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.
We may be grateful that Obama has learned from his predecessor that invading and occupying countries in this region of the world just doesn’t work. The lesson he will bequeath to his successor is that drone strikes and commando raids don’t solve the problem, either.
We must hope for victory over the Islamic State. But even if achieved, that victory will not redeem but merely prolong a decades-long military undertaking that was flawed from the outset. When the 14th campaign runs its course, the 15th will no doubt be waiting, perhaps in Jordan or in a return visit to some unfinished battleground such as Libya or Somalia or Yemen.
Yet even as the United States persists in its determination to pacify the Greater Middle East, the final verdict is already in. U.S. military power has never offered an appropriate response to whatever ails the Islamic world. We’ve committed our troops to a fool’s errand.
And worse, the errand is also proving unnecessary. With abundant North American energy reserves now accessible — all that shale oil and fracked gas — we don’t need the Persian Gulf oil that ostensibly made our post-1980 military exertions imperative. For whatever reasons, Washington’s national security elites seem oblivious to the implications these resources have for policy in the Middle East.
No matter how long it lasts, America’s war for the Greater Middle East will end in failure. And when it does, Americans will discover that it was also superfluous.