It’s true that not every application of military force is a war. Reasonable people can disagree, but when Saddam Hussein’s removal of weapons inspectors in 1998 prompted four days of U.S. and British bombs and missile strikes, that didn’t quite rise to the level of a whole new war. By contrast, the concerted, open-ended multinational application of naval and air power to enforce a United Nations Security Council resolution authorizing “all necessary measures” to forcibly change the political behavior of a head of state that’s something that Carl von Clausewitz would recognize in an instant. Call it smart, call it stupid, but please don’t call it anything besides war.
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