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A punitive expedition is a military journey undertaken to punish a state or any group of persons outside the borders of the punishing state. It is usually undertaken in response to perceived disobedient or morally wrong behavior, either as revenge or to apply strong diplomatic pressure without a formal declaration of war. In the 19th century, punitive expeditions were used more commonly as pretexts for colonial adventures that resulted in annexations, regime changes or changes in policies of the affected state to favour one or more colonial powers.
Stowell (1921) provides the following definition:
When the territorial sovereign is too weak or is unwilling to enforce respect for international law, a state which is wronged may find it necessary to invade the territory and to chastise the individuals who violate its rights and threaten its security.
Also in the 13th century, Kublai Khan, a grandson of Genghis and the founder of the Yuan Dynasty, sent emissaries demanding tribute from the Singhasari kingdom of Java. The ruler of the Singhasari kingdom, Kertanagara, refused to pay tribute and tattooed a Chinese messenger, Meng Qi, on his face. A punitive expedition sent by Kublai Khan arrived off the coast of Java in 1293. Jayakatwang, a rebel from Kediri, had killed Kertanagara by that time. The Mongols allied with Raden Wijaya of Majapahit against Jayakatwang and, once the Singhasari kingdom was destroyed, Wijaya turned against the Mongols and forced them to withdraw in confusion.
^Ferguson, Niall (May 24, 2005). "Cowboys and Indians". The New York Times. Retrieved . The United States also faces two other problems that the United Kingdom did not 85 years ago. The British were able to be ruthless: they used air raids and punitive expeditions to inflict harsh collective punishments on villages that supported the insurgents.