Friday, August 08, 2008

Irrational Exuberance or "Military Advantage in History"

Russian troops and tanks pour into South Ossetia
I'm rewriting this in response to an idiot commenter elsewhere; and I wasn't happy with it.
It would have been far wiser for the US to encourage a continued "Eastern Bloc," even if it wouldn't have been immediately as democratic as reformers would wish. Eastern European countries who wanted to join NATO should have been told instead to work with one another. The expansion of NATO has always read like a victory lap, and the reaction of an isolated Russia was predictable. It's logical to think that a less threatened Russia would have become a less threatening one.

October 2007: "Russian President Vladimir Putin has compared US plans for a missile shield in Europe to the Cuban missile crisis"

July 2008: "U.S. general warns against Russian bombers in Cuba"

It's all been remarkably short sighted, and frankly stupid. Self-interest and false idealism or irrational exuberance, won out. The long term interests of the US would have been best served by strengthening others and strengthening the UN. Instead an overconfident US already at the end of its economic dominance did the reverse.
There's a direct connection to the previous post, notes taken from comments now removed at Crooked Timber.

Also related
In the summer of 2002, the Pentagon's Office of Net Assessment (ONA) published an 85-page monograph called "Military Advantage in History". Unusual for an office that is headed by Andrew Marshall, the Pentagon's "futurist in chief," the study looks back to the past—way back. It examines four empires, or "pivotal hegemonic powers in history," to draw lessons about how the United States "should think about maintaining military advantage in the 21st century." Though unclassified, the study was held close to the vest; a stamp on the cover limits its dissemination without permission. Mother Jones obtained it only through a Freedom of Information Act request. Though the report is far from revelatory, it provides a window into a mindset that unselfconsciously envisions the United States as the successor to some of history's most powerful empires.

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