During one of the Balkan wars in the 1990s, a group of senior officials met in the White House Situation Room and listened to a proposal for bombing Serbia yet again in retribution for the latest outrage by its dictator, Slobodan Milosevic. As the officials, almost all civilians, discussed the options, they turned to the U.S. military representative at the meeting for his view of the proposed new bombing campaign. He answered with a question: “And then what?”

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This article was originally published by Foreign Affairs.