Since the Vietnam War, the United States has engaged in several military interventions. As the West looks ready to act against Syria, accused of using chemical weapons against its own citizens, WaPo presents 10 instances when America has intervened, sometimes without authorization from the United Nations.
Grenada: Unilateral U.S. military action
In October 1983, the United States led a military invasion of Grenada, a tiny Caribbean island nation, after a bloody coup ousted the government of Prime Minister Maurice Bishop, who was assassinated. President Ronald Reagan was said to have been concerned about a 10,000-foot-long airstrip that the communist country's military was building, which he thought would enable planes loaded with arms from Cuba to reach insurgents in Central America. The administration was also concerned about the safety of 800 American medical students studying in Grenada.
Panama: Unilateral U.S. military action
In December 1989, the United States invaded Panama with more than 27,000 troops. The operation lasted just over a month, resulting in the defeat of the Panamanian forces. Panama's leader, Manuel Noriega, was overthrown during the invasion, and a new president was sworn in.
Iraq: Authorized by the United Nations
After Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's army invaded Kuwait in August 1990, the U.N. Security Council imposed economic sanctions on Iraq. When the U.N. deadline for Iraq's withdrawal expired, the United States started a massive aerial war that drove Hussein's forces out of Kuwait. U.S.-led coalition forces advanced well into Iraqi territory.
Somalia: Authorized by the United Nations
In June 1993, the United Nations passed a resolution declaring war on Mohamed Farah Aideed and his militia, after Aideed ordered an attack on a Pakistani force that was part of the U.N. Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM), which worked to monitor a cease-fire in the Somali capital and protect humanitarian supplies and convoys. Starting in August 1993, U.S. troops attacked various targets in Mogadishu to find Aideed. The operation ended in October, after a bloody overnight standoff later known as "Black Hawk Down," referring to the downing of two UH-60 helicopters by Aideed's men.
Afghanistan and Sudan: Unilateral U.S. military action
After the bombings of its embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the United States in August 1998 launched cruise missiles at four terrorist training camps in Afghanistan in an attempt to assassinate Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders. The United States also dropped missiles on a pharmaceutical factory in Sudan, claiming it was helping bin Laden build chemical weapons.
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia: NATO operation not authorized by the United Nations
In March 1999, NATO began strategic airstrikes in Kosovo and Serbia because then-Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic was continuing to persecute ethnic Albanians in Kosovo who were organizing mass protests against Serbian rule. After several weeks of bombing, the Yugoslav forces agreed to withdraw from Kosovo, and Milosevic accepted an international peace plan to end the fighting.
Afghanistan: NATO operation not authorized by the United Nations
After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the United States launched a war in Afghanistan, attacking al-Qaeda forces and the Taliban, which was hosting al-Qaeda's leadership in the country. After removing the Taliban from power, the United States and its allies took control of several parts of the country and have since been fighting the insurgents. Two months after the U.S.-led attack, the U.N. Security Council authorized the establishment of the International Security Assistance Force to oversee security and train Afghan forces.
Iraq: Unilateral U.S. military action
In March 2003, President George W. Bush announced a war against Iraq, saying its goal was to "disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction" and remove Saddam Hussein from power. U.S. forces launched airstrikes on Baghdad, then began a ground invasion of the city that quickly lead to the collapse of Hussein's rule. The United States formally pulled out of Iraq in late 2011.
Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia: Unilateral U.S. drone strikes
Since 2002, the United States has regularly used armed Predator drones to target and kill terrorists inside Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. The strikes have more than doubled under President Obama, who has expanded the scope and intensity of the drone campaign against militants in the Middle East and Africa. The United Nations has criticized the drone tactics, saying the United States has disregarded the threat of civilian casualties from its aerial operations.
Libya: Authorized by the United Nations
In March 2011, France and Britain led, with U.S. assistance, a military operation in Libya, conducting airstrikes against Libyan army installations and air-defense systems, and imposing a no-fly zone. The NATO mission in Libya ended shortly after the death of Moammar Gaddafi in October 2011.
Source: The Washington Post