So what’s different? I’d say this: it’s one thing to periodically wage brief, smallish military actions. The Dominican Republic occupation of 1965 falls into that category. So do Grenada and Panama. Without getting into the merits of any of these actions, you can at least say that they were limited and isolated.
But the last couple of decades seem quite different. The Gulf War, followed by Somalia, followed by Haiti, followed by Kosovo, followed by Afghanistan, followed by Iraq, followed by Libya and Yemen, and all against a background of drone warfare that now seems all but perpetual, feels very different. It feels like we’re simply in a constant state of military action. In the last 20 years, there have only been three or four in which the U.S. military wasn’t at war. (And I’m not even sure about the three or four.)
So I think that’s a real difference, and the policy drift that Maddow talks about in her book bears a big part of the blame for this.
Oof. I’m not sure I would categorize the 1965 Dominican Republic occupation “limited and isolated” when it came at the moment that the United States was ramping up its effort in Vietnam.
But in any case, Drum’s comment throws overboard anything before World War II. I note this list of American interventions or occupations in Latin America from the period 1898 to the present. From 1898 to 1933, the United States was nearly continuously at war or in occupation of a range of states in the southern hemisphere. Far from “periodically wag[ing] brief, smallish military actions” the United States has throughout most of its history tended to fight a range of simultaneous military actions. Wikipedia conveniently has a list of American military operations in chronological order and I didn’t spot a single year of American history missing in action. I should say, perhaps, missing from action.