US Military Actions Throughout History

Hey all. I’m currently trying to pen a bit of an, er, essay I suppose, about war. Specifically, I want to talk about wars that have had possible (though not absolute) positive consequences in the long run.

My question is then, what are some military actions that involved violence on the part of the US, that you feel had some positive outcome?

This is in IMHO because it’s a bit of a poll, and I while some debate is fine, I’d rather this not turn into a pit thread, or a GD thread focused on one answer.

Obvious and not so obvious answers are welcome.

The American Revolution
The US Civil War
World War 2

Thanks silenus.

I should have also asked, what specifically was the positive outcome? For example, US Civil War might have had the positive outcome that slavery was ended in the country, and the country remained whole.

Gulf War I for sure. While it didn’t fix problems inside Iraq, um, a sovereign state that had been conquered was liberated. How that can be viewed as anything but positive I do not know.

Gulf War I also made an important philosophical statement, as it was an affirmation that the new world order was not going to sit idly by and allow militarism, that collective security as a doctrine was alive and well.

Unfortunately the doctrine of collective security has taken some hits since then.

The War of 1812, while militarily basically a wash on both sides also had some positive effects. I think it finally convinced the U.S. that Canada wasn’t going to become a part of the American republic, and also helped the British empire to recognize that independence was complete and total.

The Korean war also had positive effects. In that if we hadn’t been there, there wouldn’t be a North/South Korea, there would just be one Korea under the control of Kim.

Ditto on the Korean War. I’d also add Afghanistan to the list. Not a perfect success, to be sure, but just about anything is better than the Taliban controlling the whole country.

I don’t see how you can keep this out of Great Debates territory. Simply putting a checkmark in the won or lost column, or the positive or negative column, is too superficial an exercise. To give you an example, people think of World War II as representing the gold standard in virtuous warmaking – we were attacked, we beat the Nazis and Japanese imperialists, we saved democracy in Western Europe, made democracy in Japan, etc. What people conveniently forget is that our victory over the Germans owed far more to Stalin than it did to Bill Mauldin. And even if we saved democracy in Western Europe, we kind of did it at the expense of Eastern Europe. Morever, our “democratic” allies in Western Europe owned vast, non-democratic colonial empires that we did nothing to free.

All I’m saying is that a simple positive/negative dichotomy doesn’t work so well. For each war, you have to look into all the causes, all the ramifications, all the compromises. It’s a long and tedious exercise.

This doesn’t help you at all but I thought it was still worth posting,

Congressional Research Service Report for CongressInstances of Use of United States Armed Forces Abroad, 1798-2001
Richard F. Grimmett
Specialist in National Defense
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division (35 Page PDF)

CMC fnord!

"The very existence of flame-throwers proves that some time, somewhere, someone said to themselves, ‘You know, I want to set those people over there on fire, but I’m just not close enough to get the job done.’ " - George Carlin

The Mexican-American War was good for the US. However, I think that it was also good for Mexico. If it had never ocurred, Mexico would most likely had split up into smaller, poorer and more unstable countries; the war against the US helped unify it against a common enemy.

But, the same can be said of the French Invasion of Mexico although that happened later on.

“War is hell,” as Sherman said (and he should know), and there is always regrettable devastation and suffering, but some good can come out of them. And some are better fought than to allow the status quo to continue.

The American Revolution secured American independence and laid the groundwork for a republic that has brought more freedom and security to more people than any other government in history (even though it has gone seriously off the rails in the last five years; I take the long view).

The American Civil War ensured that the country would remain united and be bound more strongly together than ever before; that slavery would be destroyed, and the Constitution upheld.

World War I ensured that German aggression was stopped and turned back (although Versailles then laid the groundwork for the next big war).

World War II ensured that Fascism was defeated globally, and that the genocidal crimes of the Nazis were stopped and punished.

I would argue that World War I was probably the least positive and most destructive war in human history, and that by 1917 there was probably no possible outcome that would have been at all positive, irrespective of the impact of American intervention.

So you’re attempting to disprove the thesis “War. Hyunh. Good God, y’all, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing!”?

Undeclared naval war with France (1798-1801): Forced France to release us from our Revolutionary War alliance and stop seizing our merchant ships. Paved way for Louisiana Purchase in 1803.

War Against the Barbary Pirates (1801-05 and 1815): Piracy was bad. It still is. Suppressing it is good.

Boxer Rebellion rescue (1900): In a forerunner of the Iranian hostage crisis, Chinese malcontents attacked and besieged foreign diplomats, missionaries, and business persons in Peking during the Boxer Rebellion. Without the American-led naval rescue, they would have been slaughtered to the last person.

Pancho Villa pursuit (1916-17): Although the United States never captured Villa, and this expedition is often derided as a wasteful failure, it did convince Mexican revolutionaries to confine the slaughter to their own side of the border.

Korean War (1950-53): Without it, Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il would have ruled South Korea for 56 years. Enough said.

Kosovo bombing (1996): Finally convinced Serbs that ethnic cleansing wasn’t worth it. Led to downfall of Milosevic.

Afghanistan (2001): Overthrew the most misogynistic, repressive regime on the planet, which liked to harbor people who flew airplanes into American buildings as a hobby.