Nine years before that, in 1982, Israel's air force, using its own and U.S. technology, had quickly attained air supremacy over Syria's Soviet-equipped air defenses in Lebanon, demonstrating (to the horror of Soviet Air Force generals) that ground-based radar networks were a sitting duck for countries with the best airliner-based radar networks. In other words, the era when a country— other than America and its close personal friends — could use tanks to conquer another country (or even a rebellious province, as in Yugoslavia in 1999) without Washington's permission was drawing to a close.
This awareness dampened the arms race, such that by the outbreak of feverish speculation over Hezbollah's 2006 Schmutzkrieg assault on Israel, America was accounting for almost half of world's military spending. (For example, Libya was spending 3.9% of its GDP on its military, compared to 4.06% for the U.S.)
Israel's subsequent sobering enwallowment in Lebanon was an early hint of a second major lesson of post-modern warfare: that, even if you are America or its close personal friend, conquering another country these days usually turns out to be less fun that it sounds.
If you are a foreigner, therefore, the smart thing to do is to buy friends and influence people in the DC/NYC world imperial capital: you can call it the Prince Bandar Strategy. Gaddafi's strategy of buying friends in Rome was 2000 years-out-of-date.