xiii Introduction For decades, it has been indisputable that the United States of America has been the most powerful nation on the planet. In addition to its stockpile of thousands of nuclear weapons, 1 America has had at its disposal the most technologically advanced and lethal conventional fi ghting force in history, able to project American power to any corner of the globe in a matter of hours. With a vast network of nearly 700 army, navy, air force, and marine bases outside the United States 2 housing thousands of soldiers, ships, and aircraft, the American military is a global force, perpetually ready to fi ght in any theater. Since World War II, America has been not just a great global power but a superpower, wielding immensely coercive economic, political, and military power on the world stage. And American governments have wielded that military power numerous times in the years since the world’s most destruc- tive confl ict, enforcing their various policy or economic objectives with the application of the American arms, personnel, and technology. Since 1945, in addition to dozens of smaller-scale deployments and actions, elements of the American military have intervened signifi cantly in Korea (1950–1953), Viet Nam and Cambodia (1950–1975), Laos (1962–1975), the Dominican Republic (1965), Lebanon (1982–1983), Grenada (1983), Libya (1986, 2011), Iraq (1991, 2003–present), the Balkans (1992–1998), Somalia (1992–1995), Haiti (1994–1995), Afghanistan (2001–present), Syria (2014–present), and Yemen (2014–present). In very few of these confl icts did the United States face a modern, tech- nologically sophisticated enemy. Th e Korean War (1950–1953) and the ini- tial phases of both Iraq wars (1991 and 2003) featured large-scale battles, but in those actions, the United States held a huge advantage in air power and technology, which led to catastrophic Korean, Chinese, and Iraqi losses. In the majority of these interventions, the United States conducted actions against smaller, less well-equipped enemies: small, outdated
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