The US is a big country, both in population and acres. We all know this. You know, America, Fuck Yeah, we're big! But there are larger countries, and more importantly most smaller countries aren't really that small. I do think failing to understand this is one reason it's very easy to imagine that dropping a few (hundred or thousand) bombs and sending a few people in can magically transform a place for good. But, you know, dropping some bombs in the restive provinces of Northeast Philly probably wouldn't be heard from here in South Philly and it's only 10 miles away or so. Syria's about the size of Washington State. Libya's three times the size of Texas. Iraq's about the size of California.
Other places aren't dots. They're big.