Featured Article: When Diplomacy Fails…
When Diplomacy Fails: Consent, Risk and Modern Warfare
by M. Shane Riza
I sat on troop seats in the back of a KC-135 Stratotanker crossing the Atlantic the week before Christmas 1998. My feet were experiencing negative temperatures, while my head felt like it was in the tropics. Such is the environmental control system in an aircraft whose very last design consideration is the comfort of passengers. I was assigned to a rapid deployment force to stand up an austere base somewhere in the Middle East. The intent was to commence combat operations against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in the wake of Operation Desert Fox, the latest coercive measure from the remaining members of the coalition still attempting to keep Hussein in compliance with various United Nations demarches. We spent over forty-eight hours in the heart of England waiting on diplomacy to win the day. Would he or would he not let the UN inspectors back in? I pondered these questions, among others, in an English pub over many a Black and Tan. My merry band ended up returning home before the holidays on that jaunt, but I was back in that troubled part of the world just three weeks later when, alas, the man the world had pressured to do the right thing for more than eight years had simply refused again.
The military instrument of power often waits in the wings for the diplomatic instrument to run its course. Ever hopeful we will not have to commit military force to an international situation, the past two decades show us such hopes are often dashed, as the sea of international opinion crashes against the rocky shore of state self-interest. It is sometimes frustrating for military members waiting in the breach. Often, as was the case during the run up to Desert Storm, military action simply waits on the expiration of an ultimatum….
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Colonel M. Shane Riza is a command pilot and former instructor at the United States Air Force Weapons School. He commanded a fighter squadron during Operation Iraqi Freedom and currently commands the 354th Operations Group, Eielson AFB, AK. He is the author of Killing Without Heart: Limits on Robotic Warfare in an Age of Persistent Conflict, published by Potomac Books.