The Korean War occurred in the midst of the Cold War struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union, a struggle that we assume will not be revived. No similar threat is on the horizon and there is no reason to maintain forces to meet that kind of attack. If a rivalry like that of the Cold War does arise in the future with a newly belligerent Russia, a newly hostile China, or with some unforeseen power there should be time to build the necessary forces.
However, the same cannot be said about the intervention in Lebanon. The possibility remains of a minor war erupting in the Middle East that could spiral into a major war with the potential of becoming nuclear. And this alone is justification enough for the United States to maintain a standing force that could intervene and stop such an escalation.
The conclusion, then, is that the United States should maintain the capacity to intervene to stop a war that has the potential for escalating into a wider struggle that could become nuclear. The nature and structure of such a force will be examined in Chapter 24.
In the meantime, a quite different problem needs to be examined: where to lodge responsibility for purely humanitarian interventions and for peacekeeping operations. An example of the first is the original mission in Somalia of protecting the distribution of food and medical supplies. As for intervening with military force in an ongoing war or civil war to stop the killing when the war in question has little potential for escalating, the most vivid recent example is President Clinton's decision to commit troops to separate the warring sides in Bosnia in 1995.