Unfortunately, your troubles do not end here. You may invade with overwhelming force, and then discover that the people do not come out on the streets to cheer you. Having proclaimed that the war has been won, you find that it goes on. There are various things, of course, that you can do to re-assure your populations.
Tell them that the people who are defending their countries are outsiders, fanatics, terrorists, Evil and so on. The people themselves want you there. As well as this you should put in a government which you say is independent, and acting for the people, even if everyone knows that it is your puppet. At least the mask is there.
If things still go badly, there are other things you can do. You can try to chop up the actions. You can say that the war is in phases. You won the first military battles with ease. Then there was another war which went a bit badly for a year or so. But that is over (a draw perhaps). Ask people to stop criticizing those past events, ‘draw a line under them’, unite in fighting the new war which has just started and which you will undoubtedly win. That you do not have to ask your parliaments or people whether they want you to start yet another war, having not won the last one, is obvious. They have to accept what you say. Obviously you cannot withdraw and let ‘them’ win, leave the place to the chaos which would probably ensue and might be blamed (very unfairly) on you.
The central technique, of course, is to deny all the losses or defeats you can, and exaggerate any successes. By choosing the right point in time, or the right place, it is always possible to show success. If there is disaster in the north, concentrate on the great gains in the south. If the losses are great today, remind people how it was even more terrible before you started the great endeavour. All this is essential, since if your population loses hope entirely, they may turn on you. You must inspire the ‘Dunkirk spirit’, you shall overcome against the odds and so on.
You can also point out some further benefits which they may not have thought of. When a hunter is trying to shoot a tiger, he will tie up a couple of small goats and wait up a tree. This draws the tiger who starts to feast on the goats and has its attention diverted. Then the hunter blasts it. This is what you have done in several instances.
Places which had more or less eliminated terrorism, even if by cruel and despotic means, are now turned into a magnet for your enemies. It is sad that the people themselves, the small goats so to speak, have to be eaten up in the process. But at least you have a good bunch of terrorists in one place and can bomb them to bits.
A variant on this is to herd all your enemies into a confined part of their territory, build a wall round them, and then from time to time attack them with vastly overwhelming force. Again the hunting metaphors, the snares, the nets, the traps and the bait all work well.
If all of this does succeed as well as you hope, there is another resort which we hope you will not have to use, but which will bail you out. You can ‘internationalise’ the war. You can claim that you did the dirty and difficult work, the killing and the maiming and the destruction, at considerable cost, on behalf of the ‘international community’. They should now come in, gratefully, and relieve you of some of this burden. Do they not want democracy and re-construction? Of course they do. So they should pay to get it. You have levelled the Evil ones. Now everyone should join you in re-building. The United Nations and all your friends should send money and troops.
It is best to avoid this, since it carries two real dangers which you must beware of. One is that if things do start to go right, the lucrative contracts for re-construction, which should mainly be retained by you, since you did all the initial job, may be opened up to others. Secondly, it may be argued that any international force should be ruled by international law. Ensure that any wider agency has no jurisdiction over your own troops, which would be a threat to your sovereignty and might impose unwelcome limitations on your action.
Another beauty of this solution is that if things continue to go wrong, you have an easy way out. You can say that you did all the difficult bits, and handed the international forces a job on a plate. But in their typical useless and disorganized way they have muffed it. This will be useful when you again want to act unilaterally, and it will divert all blame from you. But we hope that it does not come to this, for you have another possibility at hand.
Distract people’s attention. People for a long time almost forgot about the mess that is Afghanistan, the huge expansion of warlord power, the flooding of the world with opium, the failure to re-construct, because their eyes are on Iraq. They have little time to think about the appalling mess in Israel and Palestine or the tattered road map. The same could be done again. There are others in the ‘Axis of Evil’. A crisp attack on Iran would soon concentrate people’s minds from the trail of devastation which your critics say you have created.