The term was used technically in internal Pentagon critiques of the Vietnam War (cf. President Richard Nixon's promise of Peace With Honor), but remained obscure to the general public until the Battle of Mogadishu, Somalia when the U.S. military involvement in that U.N. peacekeeping operation cost the lives of U.S. troops without a clear objective. Republican critics of President Bill Clinton derided him for having no exit strategy, although he had inherited an active military operation from his predecessor, President George H. W. Bush. The criticism was revived later against the U.S. involvement in the Yugoslav wars, including peacekeeping operations in Bosnia and Kosovo and the Kosovo war against Serbia.
The term has been adopted by critics of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and especially Iraq. President George W. Bush was said to have no exit strategy to remove troops from Iraq, and critics worried about the number of Coalition soldiers and Iraqi civilians who would suffer injury or death as a result.
LOOKING FOR THE EXIT THE TERM 'EXIT STRATEGY' HAS BECOME A POLITICAL MANTRA. BUT SOME WONDER IF IT REPRESENTS ANY STRATEGY AT ALL.
Jul 17, 2005; AS AMERICA'S THIRD summer in Iraq wears on, with a fragile, squabbling National Assembly in Baghdad and an unflaggingly murderous...