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Ancient and Modern Invasion Strategies

In ancient times, invasions were conducted very differently than today.

When the Roman Empire conquered their enemies, they gave their new subjects the option of either being killed, disbanded, or join the Roman Empire as eventual equals. For instance, soldiers of the defeat military could join the Roman military; and after several years of servitude, they could return back to their home country and be given land. Land ownership had two major benefits. First, most soldiers would never have had an opportunity to ever personally own land under their previous rulers, so this offer was extremely valuable and rare for these defeated soldiers. Second, as land owners, they could become full citizens of the Roman Empire with all the rights and protection of the entire Roman Empire. However, to become Roman citizens, they would have to convert to the official Roman religion(s). As a result, this strategy usually and quickly converted former enemies into supporting allies sometimes within a single generation or two.

In today's wars, the actual warfare is usually quick and lopsided, however the following invasions to occupy fallen countries is not so simple as in the past. The main problem is that invading countries typically want to liberate the country that they've just conquered without actually winning the population's hearts and minds. Invaders believe establishing up or converting their previous government from a dictatorship into a democracy would be favorable to the population, since it is commonly believed that a democracy would be better for the people there and also for future political influence from the occupying country. However, most countries that are not already democratic are socially and educationally not motivated to become a democracy. In other words, their citizens do not know or understand the benefits of a democracy, thus they do not want it. For a lot of their citizens, the short-term benefits of rebelling against the invasion forces off of their country has a much higher benefit in both the short-term and in the long-term. Also rebellions typically result in a lot of loss life and infrastructure for both sides, and impends the building up of the new self-governing country. Additionally, the occupying country attempts to re-establish a police and military force for the new democratic government using the local population that is both uneducated and only motivated with the next paycheck, thus their long-term loyalties can easily sway. As a result, modern invasions do not typically convert former enemies into future allies, at least not for a majority of the occupied people as compared to ancient invasions.

I have an alternative solution to this problem. After the initial warfare is over and the local government and military collapses, do NOT send in an invasion force to establish a new government. Instead, wait for a new government to establish by themselves. I expect surviving general(s) from the previous government/military would seize power and declare a new dictatorship. The winning country would then re-establish ties with this new country and demand changes that are pro-democracy and serve the agenda of the winning country, such as to search for weapons of mass destruction and/or terrorists. These new heads of government will most likely comply because they know that their new fragile government can not withstand another outside aerial attack. If they do not comply, return to bombing the defeated country again until a new political power takes over. Repeat as many times as necessary until a more compliant government is in power. This strategy may not quickly convert the country over to a democracy or win many friends, but I believe it will be much cheaper and result in a lot less loss of lives.. at least for the victor. Furthermore, it is never too late to try this new strategy.

Now I know this idea has never been implemented before, and there is no way to know if it will work. However, if the current invasion strategy is not working and has never worked, then is it not wise to try another strategy?

by Phil for Humanity
on 06/13/2010

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