2008/08/23

"Tripwires"

I've heard and read a lot about "tripwires" recently.

The preliminary diagnosis is that there's an endemic belief - pretty well confined to Northern America - that no power would dare to attack a country that has U.S. troops (or even just some humanitarian aid from the USA) on its ground. The second symptom is the belief that even if that failed, to attack U.S. troops (or whatever U.S.) in a distant country would trigger war with the USA.

This belief in tripwires is quite funny - and detached from reality. Whatever apparent success such "tripwires" had in the past, it had likely much more to do with the fact that most countries are actually not so benevolent and don't invade other countries all the time (tripwire present or not).

The 2008 South Ossetia War happened despite more than a hundred U.S. military advisers in the country, and the Korea and Vietnam wars experienced foreign interventions to oppose army-sized U.S. forces in the country.

There's nothing magic about "tripwire" forces. It's not really relevant whether a "tripwire" is present, but a whole set of questions:
- how important is the country/conflict
- how relevant is the country/conflict
- expected costs and repercussions of an intervention
- character of the (potentially intervening) government
- political/military feasibility of an intervention

A "tripwire" force is at most a symptom, and can be a mere bluff.
Humanitarian aid involvement is certainly even less than that; it's certainly no tripwire.

Sven Ortmann

8 comments:

  1. Certainly true. If the tripwire forces are from a feckless country.

    There were not 100 US military personnel in fighting roles, only as advisors present in Georgia. That's true when GTEP started, and still is. Trainers are not fighters.

    Detachment from reality, you are absolutely right. Not them, however.

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  2. Next time stick to the comment rules, please.
    http://defense-and-freedom.blogspot.com/2008/05/comment-policy.html
    Overt hostility in blog comments reveals pretty poor manners.

    I wrote explicitly "advisers", so what's your problem?
    You didn't get the point apparently.
    Some people consider just about any involvement as "tripwire", including non-combat personnel.

    Btw, U.S. advisers are more often than not much more than trainers if they're in a war zone. Many examples are known when they actually lead the supposedly trained troops in combat.

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  3. "Many examples"?

    If there are, you would have used them.

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  4. It's well-known for the Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam wars.

    I'm really bored by people who don't know me, but claim to know what I think, what I would do under certain circumstances and such.

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  5. Then perhaps you would provide some examples, and please, try not to be too imaginative.

    I'm really bored with poseurs on the Internet pretending to be the very model of a modern major general, but who in reality probably don't know which end of rifle the bullet comes out of.

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  6. Oh, I'm really sorry that you're bored with something.
    Stop being bored by history books and newspapers as well and read the stuff, please.

    The nature of military advisers in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan is general knowledge.
    This blog is not meant to fix lacking general knowledge.

    Btw, coming back to your first comment; Georgians should think twice before thinking about other countries as "feckless".

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  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  8. Well, you may get your way on forums, but I deleted your offensive post since you seem to be unable to understand the comment policy.

    To have a mainstream blog would be simple and convenient, but I prefer the tougher way and explore the unusual ideas.
    That seems to attract trolls and other people with poor manners like a magnet, though.

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