Most recent war of conquest, with no attempt at pretext

Modernly, it seems that most wars are fought with the stated rationale usually being one of two things:

  1. Benevolence - liberating or protecting an oppressed people, removing a dictator, helping to stabilize and bring progress to a region, etc. (Iraq 1 and 2, Libya, etc.) Or;

  2. Legitimate self-defense, or retaliation for an attack (Afghanistan, Pacific Theater of WWII, etc.).

Obviously, the stated rationale of a war rarely tells the whole story. There has to be something in it for the belligerents, or they wouldn’t be fighting each other so hard. Often it’s over resources, territory, or geopolitical self-interest. Now, the warm and fuzzy rationales that most world powers seem to use as their reasons for going to war are probably not entirely untrue, but they’re also probably not in the front of anybody’s mind, either.

Maybe I’m totally off base, but it seems like, back in the day, rulers didn’t really bother with pretext when they initiated a war of conquest. The stated rationale of many wars seemed to be “That place looks nice. Let’s go take it.” I’m thinking the European conquest of the Americas, various wars of conquest between European states, the Indian wars, etc. But that all happened hundreds of years ago.

So, when was the last time a country’s leadership unambiguously said “I want that!” and invaded another country?

Or am I totally wrong? Did leaders who engaged in various conquests always raise some type of selfless or noble pretext, no matter how flimsy?

At least nominally, the Spanish conquests at least were made in the name of bringing Christianity to the Indians.

In the English realm, often the first toehold was gained through establishing a trading site or purchasing land. Later, when disputes with the Indians arose, these were used as a pretext to seize land or drive them away.

Hmmm… the Japanese invasion of most of east Asia seems to be the most obvious grab for empire. Most of European imperial invasions were either on the pretext that land occupied only by “disorganized savages” was free for the taking; for some reason, not so with lands that could organize and field a substantial army.

The conquistadors, for example, had the crown’s and the church’s blessings to claim lands for Spain and meanwhile bring all the benighted heathens into the One True fold.

In other cases, the sequence went something like this: British/French/whatever traders go in try to do business. SOmehow (deservedly or not) they offend the local potenate who exacts the revenge on either their hide or their possessions. Europeans get up in arms - how dare you treat a white man like that!!?? - and invade to teach a lesson and conveniently take control of the supply of whatever riches were originally being traded for. As the rivals go deeper into the unoccupied areas, each ahs to move further on some pretext to ensure the other side does not grab the land first.

Saddam Hussein claiming that Kuwait properly belonged to Iraq probably counts.

Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait was pretty damn close. There was some pretext of Kuwait having historically been part of Iraq, but the invasion was pretty unabashedly because Iraq was broke after the Iran-Iraq war and Kuwait was rich.

ETA: What he said!

I believe Hitler and the Nazis openly stated their desire to take settlement area for Germans from their neighbors. Actually Hitler explained his intentions and motivations quite well in his book. Did Hitler and the Nazis even explain any reasons at all for their invasion of the Soviet Union? Their invasion of France and the low countries did not require justification since France had already declared war on Germany due to Germany’s invasion of Poland, and pretty much everyone knew Germany was going to go through the low countries to get into France.

While almost farcical in most cases, most European wars through the Middle Ages up until World War I the leaders of all sides involved justified in some way other than just bald aggression. Even Prussian seizing of Silesia, widely condemned in a time of ruthless realpolitik as unabashed opportunism and raw greed and lust for territory the Prussian at least made some vague noises about ancient claims and et cetera. That was a common mechanism really, Europe was so interconnected and covered over with ancient noble families with ancient claims that it was very easy to resurrect centuries forgotten land claims and use them as a “justified” pretext for war.

What about the Indian Wars in the American West?

Turkish invasion of Cyprus, 1974. (Turkey has some balls on them to bitch about Israel during the “Freedom Flotilla” attack of last year, when they themselves have tried over and over and over again to grab Cyprus.)

For a successful one, India taking over Gao in 1962.

I would say there is nothing “modern” about the tendency to come up with a pretext, no matter, how flimsy to turn a war of conquest into a “just war”.

Ancient Rome was expert at coming up with spurious justification to turn their imperial conquests into benevolent or defensive actions.

I think you’re probably off base :). Most actors throughout history have conjured pretexts of one sort or another. This was particularly the case in pre-modern Europe, which if anything was more highly legalistic than today. Pretext was everything. I think examples of where there were absolutely none, however flimsy, would be rare indeed.

Did you read your cite?

In the meantime, Nikos Sampson was declared provisional president of the new government. Sampson was a Greek ultra nationalist who was known to be fanatically anti-Turkish and had taken part in violence against Turkish civilians in earlier conflicts.[24] ‘Had Turkey not intervened,’ Sampson told the Greek newspaper, Eleftherotipia, on 26.02.81, ‘I would not only have proclaimed Enosis but I would have annihilated the Turks in Cyprus as well.’[25]

While I’m not going to say the Turkish invasion was hunky-dory, particularly the ethnic cleansing they indulged in, they had a pretty solid rationale for intervening.

The statement of Nikos Sampson sounds to me like an attempt by an ousted has-been to salvage his pride. That is how Greeks are. They are macho.

The Turks have have fanatically been attempting to seize Cyprus for centuries. They just wanted any excuse to invade it.

I learned this as the three Gs: God, Glory for Spain, and what was the third? Oh yes, Gold, that was it.

I think of Henry V, Act 1, Scene 2, and Canterbury laying out the basis for Henry’s French adventure.

Then hear me, gracious sovereign, and you peers,
That owe yourselves, your lives and services
To this imperial throne. There is no bar
To make against your highness’ claim to France
But this, which they produce from Pharamond,
‘In terram Salicam mulieres ne succedant:’
‘No woman shall succeed in Salique land:’
Which Salique land the French unjustly gloze
To be the realm of France, and Pharamond
The founder of this law and female bar.
Yet their own authors faithfully affirm
That the land Salique is in Germany,
Between the floods of Sala and of Elbe;
Where Charles the Great, having subdued the Saxons,
There left behind and settled certain French;
Who, holding in disdain the German women
For some dishonest manners of their life,
Establish’d then this law; to wit, no female
Should be inheritrix in Salique land:
Which Salique, as I said, 'twixt Elbe and Sala,
Is at this day in Germany call’d Meisen.
Then doth it well appear that Salique law
Was not devised for the realm of France:
Nor did the French possess the Salique land
Until four hundred one and twenty years
After defunction of King Pharamond,
Idly supposed the founder of this law;
Who died within the year of our redemption
Four hundred twenty-six; and Charles the Great
Subdued the Saxons, and did seat the French
Beyond the river Sala, in the year
Eight hundred five. Besides, their writers say,
King Pepin, which deposed Childeric,
Did, as heir general, being descended
Of Blithild, which was daughter to King Clothair,
Make claim and title to the crown of France.
Hugh Capet also, who usurped the crown
Of Charles the duke of Lorraine, sole heir male
Of the true line and stock of Charles the Great,
To find his title with some shows of truth,
'Through, in pure truth, it was corrupt and naught,
Convey’d himself as heir to the Lady Lingare,
Daughter to Charlemain, who was the son
To Lewis the emperor, and Lewis the son
Of Charles the Great. Also King Lewis the Tenth,
Who was sole heir to the usurper Capet,
Could not keep quiet in his conscience,
Wearing the crown of France, till satisfied
That fair Queen Isabel, his grandmother,
Was lineal of the Lady Ermengare,
Daughter to Charles the foresaid duke of Lorraine:
By the which marriage the line of Charles the Great
Was re-united to the crown of France.
So that, as clear as is the summer’s sun, :stuck_out_tongue:
King Pepin’s title and Hugh Capet’s claim,
King Lewis his satisfaction, all appear
To hold in right and title of the female:
So do the kings of France unto this day;
Howbeit they would hold up this Salique law
To bar your highness claiming from the female,
And rather choose to hide them in a net
Than amply to imbar their crooked titles
Usurp’d from you and your progenitors.

Maybe. But they were handed one. I could try to pull some more cites on the stupidity of the Greek junta in power at the time in provoking this crisis if you like. Because they did indeed provoke it and nearly marched themselves into a regular war that they would have lost as well.

Moreover the ‘Turks’ hardly had to struggle fanatically for centuries to seize it after a certain point ( actually less than a century from the first raids to final conquest ). They Ottomans owned the island for well over 300 years, longer than the United States has existed.

You certainly know more about this than I do. But, with the knowledge I do have, it seems to me that Turkey, having been involved in one way or another in disputes over this island for a long time, didn’t just invade because they wanted to save the day for the Turkish minority of Cyprus, they wanted to do what they’ve always wanted to do: secure control of the island. Did they make an “attempt at pretext” though? (On the public stage)? If so, then I think they are probably disqualified from this OP even if their pretext was flimsy.

What about the Yom Kippur War? That seems to me to pretty clearly be an attempt at conquering land.

They had a pretext, although the pretext was that they DID want to conquer land.

Of course, this backfired spectacularly, and the attacking nations had their own land conquered. Do these wars have to be successful attempts at conquering?

I guess not.

Also, the example of Iraq and Kuwait in 1990 seems to fit the bill, or come really close.

There have to have been some conflicts in sub-Saharan Africa even more recent than that, which would qualify.

Right. The pretext was that Israel was occupying Egyptian land (Sinai and Gaza) and wouldn’t return it.

I don’t think it’s a “pretext” if that’s the actual reason.