Chicago Journal of International Law


A striking characteristic of the Clinton era has been an increased American propensity to employ military power as an adjunct of foreign policy. Since ordering a cruise missile attack on an Iraqi intelligence headquarters in Baghdad in June 1993 in retaliation for an alleged plot to assassinate former President George Bush, President Bill Clinton has employed US forces with striking frequency in a remarkable array of circumstances. In 1993, Clinton fought and lost a minor war in Somalia. In 1994, he dispatched US troops to occupy Haiti and reinstall President Jean Bertrand Aristide to power. In 1995, American aircraft provided the preponderance of the combat power for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization ("NATO") bombing campaign that paved a way for the Dayton peace accords ending (or at least suspending) the Bosnian civil war. When NATO peacekeepers entered Bosnia in December of that year, American ground troops were in the vanguard. On a reduced scale, they have remained ever since. That was not all. In 1998, to lend substance to its so-called "war on terrorism," the Clinton administration launched cruise missile attacks on suspected terrorist base camps in Afghanistan. In Sudan, US missiles also leveled a pharmaceutical plant alleged-incorrectly as it would turn out-to have been used to manufacture materials essential to the production of nerve gas. In the Persian Gulf, Clinton on two occasions directed the Pentagon to mount a show of force, deploying contingents of combat troops to Kuwait on short notice. He has maintained and expanded the air patrols in the "no-fly zones" over northern and southern Iraq, ordered air strikes from time to time to express displeasure with Saddam Hussein, and in December 1998 launched Operation Desert Fox to punish Iraq for refusing to cooperate with United Nations ("UN") weapons inspections. Since Desert Fox, the United States and Great Britain have continued a desultory bombing campaign against Iraq, attacking targets every two or three days for the ostensible purpose of enforcing UN resolutions dating back to the Gulf War of 1990-1991. And, of course, a year ago the United States was once again in the forefront of NATO's efforts to bring Slobodan Milosevic's Yugoslavia to heel, an initiative that resulted in a massive 78-day air war and another open-ended commitment of American troops as "peacekeepers"-this time to Kosovo. [CONT]