The United States has participated in a number of international actions to counter dictators who have attacked their own citizens or neighboring countries. Galvanizing an international coalition to act can take months.
March: President Obama authorized US forces to take the lead in UN-backed airstrikes against Moammar Khadafy’s regime in Libya to stop him from committing atrocities against protesters and opposition forces.
The time it took: 31 days. After protesters took to the streets on Feb. 17, Khadafy unleashed air power against them. The allied airstrikes began two days after the UN Security Council passed a resolution authorizing force.
March 1999: President Clinton backed NATO airstrikes to stop aggression by Serbia, led by Slobodan Milosevic, against ethnic Albanians in neighboring Kosovo.
The time it took: About 1 year. The conflict in Kosovo began in 1998. Airstrikes began six months after NATO threatened the use of force.
August 1995: US and NATO allies launched an extended air operation in Bosnia-Herzegovina to protect civilians in Sarajevo and UN-designated safe areas.
The time it took: More than 19 months. In 1992, the United Nations demanded that all Serbian interference in Bosnia cease. NATO leaders affirmed their willingness to carry out extended airstrikes in January of 1994.
January 1991: President George H.W. Bush announced Operation Desert Storm to remove Iraqi forces from Kuwait.
The time it took: About six months. Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990, and Bush ordered sanctions and sent US forces to protect Saudi Arabia, but resisted using the military immediately to oust Iraq.