My Weekly Reader 14 June 2018.

Well before the arrival of Europeans on the Eastern seaboard of North America, the Native Americans had advanced far beyond simple bands of wandering hunters-and-gatherers.  They had become settled hunters-and-farmers; their communities had grown from bands to confederations of tribes.  It would be easy to portray their situation as an Eden and the Europeans as the snake in the Garden.  This over-simplifies things.

First, the Native Americans were Stone Age people whose lives could be very hard.  Europeans were an Iron Age people whose axes, knives, cooking pots, and muskets could ease those hard lives.  Second, many tribes disputed with others.  Trading with Europeans gave them access to European technology, but alliances could give them the bulge on rivals.  Cooperation co-existed with conflict between .Europeans and Native Americans.

Yet conflict became endemic.  The two different peoples despised one another.  The Europeans—Spanish, French, Dutch, and English—were all monotheists, believing themselves to be in the left lane of the highway to Heaven and everyone else to be taking the off-ramp to Hell.  Endlessly busy in pursuit of gain, the Europeans found the Native Americans to be an idle lot.  The Native Americans were commonly animists, believing that each living thing possessed a spirit.  Lacking much material wealth, the Native Americans couldn’t comprehend the acquisitiveness of the Europeans.

The imbalance in real strength between the two sides doomed the Native Americans.  Certainly, the Europeans possessed an immense technological advantage over the Native Americans.  Sailing ships, firearms, and iron tools all surpassed anything Native Americans could produce.  More importantly, there were just a lot more Europeans who wanted to live in North America than there were Native Americans who might want to keep them out.  The spread of European diseases compounded, but did not cause, the imbalance.

The first American “way of war” rested on the English understanding of the Native Americans.  The Native Americans could not stand and fight against heavily armed and armored Europeans.  They faded away into the forest at the English approach.  So march to a stockaded village, burn it down along with stored food and crops in the field, then go home.  On occasion, the English could trap the enemy inside their stockade.  Then they applied fire and sword.

An early war in New England illustrates these realities.[1]  Before 1600, the Narragansett confederacy had dominated southern New England.  Then the Pequot tribe intruded itself into the Connecticut River valley.  In 1622, they had expanded their territory by defeating the Narragansett.  In 1630, the Puritan settlers began to arrive in Massachusetts Bay.   Conflicts arose between the Narragansett and the English from time to tie, but the Narragansett understood the danger to themselves.  In 1636, they palmed off the murder of a rough-around-the-edges merchant ship captain by some of their own allies as the handiwork of the Pequot.  Then they sent a bunch of warriors to fight with the English against the Pequot.  The war ended with a gory massacre of many Pequot trapped inside their own stockade at Mystic.  Some of the survivors became slaves of the Narragansett.  Forty years later it would be the turn of the Narragansett in King Philip’s War (1675-1678).

[1] James A. Warren, God, War, and Providence (2018).

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My Weekly Reader, 29 May 2018.

The war correspondent Thomas Ricks reads war books for the NYT Book Review.  It’s not worth summarizing his summaries, but he often has interesting observations to make.  Discussing a book[1] on the rise of autonomous-killing machines (“war-bots” like the “fem-bot” in “Austin Powers”) he reports that the Stuxnet computer virus was injected into the Iranian nuclear project’s computer system through flash-drives loaded with porn.[2]  More alarming, and less comic, is the contention that machines can learn and that, as they learn, they will become still more autonomous.  “The bottom line,” says Ricks, “is that the more an autonomous weapon is let free to roam in time and space, the more likely it is that something will go catastrophically wrong.”  So, while it seems impossible to stop the development of autonomous weapons, people should be working hard to prevent the development of autonomous nuclear and chemical or biological weapons.  There are degrees of catastrophe.

The Syrian Civil War (2011-the present) seems to have been going on forever (although not for anywhere near as long as the war in Afghanistan).  Will it never end?  A couple of scholars who have written recent books think not—or not anytime soon.[3]  Seeing the conflicts in both Syria and Iraq as consequences of the destruction of tyrannical “republics,” they think that there will be follow-on conflicts even after the likely victory of the Assad regime over its opponents and the defeat of the Islamic State.

The foreign policy of the Obama administration is starting to take fire from new critics.  The New Zealand political scientist William Harris has described it as “feckless” in Syria and Ricks says he portrays Secretary of State John Kerry as “almost buffoonish.”  (If you’ve ever seen photographs of Kerry in a one-to-one with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, you might already have suspected this to be the case.)  Ronan Farrow has taken time off from belaboring highly-placed swine in other areas of American public life to upbraid political leaders for the shrinking role of American diplomacy in maintaining world order.[4]  However, not all of his argument serves his purpose.

Farrow once served as an assistant to Richard Holbrooke, one of the pro-consuls of the American empire.  Holbrooke had “negotiated” an end to the horrible war in Bosnia, so he aspired to become Secretary of State.  However, he got stuck in civil life through the political incompetence of several Democratic presidential candidates.  Later, denied the top job at Foggy Bottom, he settled for special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.  Well, not really “settled.”  Farrow describes Holbrooke as “grasping, relentless,” and “oblivious to social graces in the pursuit of his goals.”[5]  In short, he was a jerk, especially in the eyes of other power-seekers and power-wielders in the Obama foreign policy establishment.  On the other hand, he thought that the only way out of Afghanistan lay in talks with the Taliban.  One key point here is that no administration wants to get charged with having lost a war, even when the war became unwinnable on another administration’s watch.  In a sense. Holbrooke was what Raymond Chandler once called a “tarantula on a piece of Angel’s food cake.”

A second point, however, is that individual ambitions and animosities (or amities) shape policy decisions.  Democrats didn’t have (and don’t have) a deep bench on foreign policy.  Holbrooke was an old guy from the Clinton administration from which the Obama administration wished to distance itself.  However, Holbrooke had accomplished something, and he had supporters as well as opponents.  So he got a job.  He died doing it.  Still, his “failure” to persuade could be read as a sign of how little traction Hilary Clinton possessed when serving as Secretary of State.

[1] Paul Scharre, Army of None: Autonomous Weapons and the Future of War.

[2] So there is a market for pornography among Iran’s technical elite and it is tolerated by the watch-dogs of the regime.  Meanwhile, women are policed for immodest dress.  Tells you a lot about the Iranian Republic right there.  Still, one can be curious about the particular type of porn that interests Iranian scientists.  Suppose “Stormy Daniels” is a rock star.

[3] William Harris, Quicksilver War: Syria, Iraq and the Spiral of Conflict; Ahmed Hashim, The Caliphate at War: Operational Realities and Innovations of the Islamic State.

[4] Ronan Farrow, War on Peace: The End of Diplomacy and the Decline of American Influence (2018).

[5] Actually, this is pretty “American” behavior in the time before the Preppies, Yuppies, and investment bankers seized control of American foreign policy.  And much else.

My Weekly Reader 21 May 2018.

It can be difficult even for diplomats and foreign policy scholars to know a foreign country.  The Soviet Union long constituted a black box to outsiders.  Censorship, propaganda, and tight police surveillance of foreigners and their Soviet contacts kept Westerners from the fuller understanding that can be achieved of an open society.  If that was true of a great power in a long period of international confrontation, it can also be true of minor states on the outer periphery of world affairs.

Take the case of Libya.  The resources needed to foster an understanding of any foreign society are—in economic terms—“scarce.”  To understand Libya, it would take learning Arabic.  There aren’t a lot of people with the ability and commitment to do this.  It would take living in the country for an extended period to develop a sense of the society.  There aren’t many people with a reason to do so: oil industry people, diplomats, journalists, and the occasional academic.  One could try to develop human contacts in such a way as to not get them killed by the regime.  That last is a matter of personality and training.

Would it even be worth the trouble?  The United States had—and has—little reason to invest scarce resources in what amount to backwaters.[1]  Libya is a geographically large country made up mostly of desert.  Only six million people live there, many of them semi-nomadic tribesmen.  It has abundant oil and natural gas reserves, but so do many other places in the Arab region.  Saudi Arabia and Egypt rank much higher than does Libya.  Then, there’s the whole Israel versus the Palestinians engouement.  Since 2003, Iraq has occupied a central place for many specialists.  All of these soaked up the attention and scarce human resources of the American foreign policy establishment.  Americans largely depended upon the expertise of other countries with a reason to care more deeply about Libya.  Chiefly this means France, whose former colonies and current pawns surround Libya, and Italy, once the colonial ruler and now just a boat-ride away from a place teeming with people who don’t want to stay there.

Occasionally, however, Libya intruded upon American attention.  From 1969 onward, Libya had been ruled by a savage dictator, Muammar Qaddafi.  In the 1980s, his malevolence got the better of his self-control.  He had meddled in a civil war in Chad; he had sponsored murderous international terrorism in the West; and he had tried to acquire nuclear weapons.  All of these initiatives had gotten Libya a series of bloody noses, with the promise of worse to come.  At this point, Qaddafi’s self-control got the better of his—international—malevolence.  He went back to persecuting his own people and left other people alone.  Libya fell off the radar screen.

Then, came the “Arab Spring”[2] of 2011.  In January 2011, anti-government protests began in Tunisia, Egypt, and Syria.  In February 2011 they broke out in the eastern Libyan port-city of Benghazi.  Quaddafi vowed to drown the rebels in their own blood.[3]  “Humanitarian intervention” soon followed.  The governments of Britain and France outraged by the prospect of a massacre of “people everywhere [who] just want to be free,” wanted military intervention to protect Benghazi.  They didn’t want to send troops and they didn’t have the airborne command and control systems, or targeting drones, or air refueling capacity to make air-strikes work too well.  So they dragged on the United States to do its bit.[4]  Next thing you know, not only have the government forces headed for Benghazi been bombed to smithereens, but the Quaddafi government has been bombed out of existence.

This “success” had untoward consequences.[5]  Western experts believed that Libya had a good chance at a peaceful transition to a democratish state.  However, one now-experienced observer of Middle Eastern affairs has remarked that “the terrible men who ruled the countries of the Arab world had destroyed almost everything that might hold their societies together without them.”[6]  That proved about right—in Iraq, in Egypt, in Syria, and in Libya.  Libya came apart like a leper in a hot-tub.[7]  Islamists fought secularists, the long-suppressed regions fought each other, and gangs of criminals seized what they could.  After this failure of yet another Rodney King moment, the French, the British, and the Americans quickly threw up their hands in disgust.  One American official later characterized the change in attitude as “the hell with it.”  “Humanitarian intervention” soon ended.[8]

Other foreign powers did not.  They intervened to pursue their own interests.[9]  The criminals in coastal towns went into the migrant-export business, deluging Italy with desperately poor people who had used the Trans-African highway system[10] to reach Libya.  The flood of unwanted immigrants contributed to, but isn’t the only cause of, the rise of “populist” parties in Europe.

Could any of this have been foreseen?  Probably not, given the relative ignorance of Libyan conditions.  Still, there doesn’t seem to have been any worst-case analysis on the part of proponents of humanitarian intervention, nor any reflection on how far their own countries would be willing to go if conditions went South in a hurry.  But this is an old story.  “In his experience, premonitions of disaster were almost invariably proved false, and the road to Calvary entered on with the very lightest of hearts.”[11]

[1] The same went for Afghanistan and almost anywhere in Africa.

[2] The term alarmed many historians.  It made them think of the “Springtime of the Peoples” in the Revolutions of 1848-1849 in Europe.  These revolutions carried all before them for a time.  Then the revolutionaries, coalitions of people united only by what they were against—the current regime—fell out over what they were for.  The old guard regained control.  Firing squads, cavalry arriving in villages with coils of rope around every saddle horn, dungeons, and clipper ships packed with emigrants to America followed.  However, History is a college major in steep decline.  It offers only entertainment and the vicarious experience subjected to rational analysis that might lead one to not do something spectacularly stupid later in life.  Apparently there is no market for it.  “Viddy well little brother.”

[3] OK, that’s a cliché.

[4] Reportedly, the American military and intelligence chiefs were opposed to this intervention.  They had more wars—in Afghanistan and Iraq—than they could conveniently handle.

[5] See: “The Shores of Tripoli” and “The Hacked Election.”

[6] Dexter Filkins, New York Times Book Review, 20 May 2018, p. 24.

[7] Same as did Syria.

[8] Apparently governmental humanitarianism has a much shorter half-life than does NGO humanitarianism.

[9] Two things here.  First, Qatar supported the Islamists, Egypt and Russia supported the not-so-Islamists.  Same as in Syria.  Second, one aspect of America’s post-Cold War “triumphalism” has been the belief that other countries don’t have a right to their own foreign policy.  It should come as no surprise—although apparently it does in Washington—that other countries disagree.

[10] It’s not the American interstate system.  Still, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trans-African_Highway_network

[11] Pat Barker, Regeneration.  I forget the page number.

Kellogg and Briand Frosted Flakes.

In the First World War (1914-1918), Germany fought France, Britain, Russia, and the United States.  Germany lost–barely.  The French sought to create a post-war peace system based on keeping Germany weak.  Break up Germany into smaller states; grant the French control of the Rhineland and the Ruhr (Germany’s industrial heartland).  The British and the Americans didn’t like this solution, which just promised future wars.  Britain and the United States came up with a different plan: they would guarantee French security with an alliance treaty.  If Germany (or Mars) attacked, Britain and France would come to the aid of France.  However, the United States Senate refused to approve the Versailles Treaty (and its obligations for the United States).[1]  The British took the view—not entirely reasonable in light of the subsequent German danger under Mr. Hitler—that this let them off the hook as well.  All of a sudden, the French had neither an American nor a British alliance, nor did they have a weakened Germany.  What to do?

They tried coercing the Germans by occupying the Ruhr (1923-1925).  Unfortunately, they owed American banks a ton of money from the war.  So the American could—and did—bend France over the couch.  This led to the Dawes Plan and, eventually, to the Locarno Agreements.

Aristide Briand (1862-1932) fell heir to this mess.  Briand was a leftist politician who had been prime minister on many occasions.  In 1925 he became foreign minister.  He needed a way to fend off a future war with Germany.  Partly, this meant sucking-up to Germany.  Partly this meant trying to snare the United States into promising to defend France.  Briand fished around, then proposed what amounted to a defensive alliance between the US and France.

Frank Kellogg (1856-1937) grew up in the Upper Mid-West, taught himself law under the old pre-law-school system, and eventually became a terrifying lawyer for the U.S. Government in the Theodore Roosevelt administration.  He prosecuted the Union Pacific Railroad and Standard Oil.[2]  What he didn’t know about the real meaning of legal agreements wasn’t worth knowing.  He became a Senator from Minnesota (1916-1922).  Unlike most Republicans, he voted for the Versailles Treaty, so he lost that job.  “Progressive” Republicans like Herbert Hoover didn’t hold it against him that he had stood up to the old men and idiots.  He spent a year as Ambassador to Britain (1924-1925), then became Secretary of State (1925-1929).

So, Frank Kellogg had to deal with Aristide Briand’s proposal.  How to dodge a French trap?  He counter-proposed an agreement that would be open to every country and which rejected aggressive war as an instrument of national policy.  Who could be against a rejection of aggressive war?  In the public mind, the Kellogg-Briand Pact “outlawed war.”  Cheering followed.  Robert Ferrell told this story well in Peace in Their Time (1952)

Then Japan attacked China and Germany ran amok in Europe.  The Second World War followed.  The Holocaust followed.  The atom-bombing of Japan followed.  Filled with disgust over humankind, people came to misunderstand the Kellogg-Briand Pact.  First, “nouveau realists” saw it as a joke.  “Outlawing War” is joke, yes?  More recently, lawyers have seen it as the entering wedge for the rule of law, norms, and a rules-based system.[3]  Neither is true.  The Pact is best understood as a “realist” diplomatic maneuver in an age of popular idealism.

[1] This is a complex story.

[2] Yes, Republicans used to do this, just like the Democrats used to be an arm of the KKK.

[3] Oona Hathaway and Scott Shapiro, The Internationalists: How a Radical Plan to Outlaw War Remade the World (2017).  The reviews aren’t much more sensible, even when written by historians

Oliver Wiswell.

My Dad was the finest man I’ve ever known, but he didn’t have a lot of formal education or refined taste in literature.   He read the novels of John D. MacDonald, C.S. Forester and Kenneth Roberts.  Cheap paperbacks you could buy in the Rexall drugstore on 45th in Seattle.  So I read them as well.  It was a productive use of my time.  Kenneth Roberts (1885–1957) started as a journalist, tried his hand at soldiering in the First World War (Siberia expedition), went back to journalism (Saturday Evening Post), and ended up as a historical novelist.

Roberts was a cross-grained guy.  Arundel (1931) and A Rabble in Arms (1933) celebrate Benedict Arnold—before the treason.  Northwest Passage (1937) centers on Robert Rogers, the subsequently disgraced American hero of the French and Indian Wars.[1]  Oliver Wiswell (1940) is a view of the American Revolution from the perspective of a Tory.  After Arundel[2] it is his best book.

In Oliver Wiswell the hero instinctively helps a man who is being tarred and feathered and ridden on a fence rail for dissenting from common opinion; helps treat the British wounded after Bunker Hill (one guy is gut-shot by a musket ball with a nail pounded through it); interviews New York Loyalists who have been driven into hiding in a swamp to escape their tormentors; hears of other Loyalists who have been imprisoned in the depths of Connecticut’s Simsbury mines; investigates the mass murder of American prisoners of war by their British guards in New York; wanders in disguise through the back-country in search of the troops that General John Burgoyne surrendered at Saratoga[3]; travels for a while with the many people migrating West of the Appalachians to escape the war and the “Land of Liberty”; arrives in South Carolina in time to hear of the bloody civil war underway in the South and to participate in the Loyalist defense of Ninety-Six; learns of the American assault upon the civilized Cherokee; returns to New York to share in the whale-boat fights on Long Island Sound as Loyalists sought to escape the United States; and ends by helping found new colonies in Canada for the Loyalists.  So, reading this book could give you the idea that the American Revolution involved a lot of informal violence on both sides, but especially against the opponents of the “Empire of Liberty.”

While not an “academic” historian, Roberts did a lot of research for his books.  He consulted both published primary sources and the “literary” histories of an earlier time.  Like any journalist, he sought out dramatic human stories that illustrated larger patterns.

In recent years, academic historians have systematically exploited many more sources that were used by Roberts.  However, their books largely confirm what Roberts intuited.[4]  There was nothing gentlemanly or moderate about the Patriots’ war with the allies of the British Army.  Roger Parkinson, The Common Cause, examines how Patriots nurtured white fear and hatred of blacks and Indians as a way to bind people to the Revolution.  Kathleen DuVal, Independence Lost, shows how on the Southwestern frontier many hopes for the future—especially among the Indians–failed when the United States succeeded.  Maya Jasanoff, Liberty’s Exiles, tracks the fate of losers red, white and black.  Holger Hoock, Scars of Independence, speaks directly to Robert’s theme of ruthless liberty.

All this emphasizes the achievement of the Founders in calming America after 1783.

[1] The first third of the book, on Rogers’ raid on the St. Francis Indians, is marvelous.  The rest is a dog.

[2] In one of the novels, an English noble-woman says “You live in a rundle?  Oh, you mean Arun-dell.”

[3] They were promised parole, but the Americans declined to fulfill this promise—or adequately care for their captives.

[4] See the discussion of books in Jane Kamensky, “Red, White, Black and Blue,” NYT Book Review, 21 May 2017.

My Weekly Reader 14 July 2017.

As contemporary Americans ponder whether the federal government has grown too strong or is not yet strong enough, it is worth revisiting the first years of the Republic.  Then even the survival of the United States lay open to question.  Many Americans (Anti-Federalists) had opposed the Constitution.  Britain and Spain, which possessed important territories bordering on the new nation, were little inclined to believe that the United States would become a behemoth.  In military affairs, interested people debated whether the United States should even have a permanent and professional military (a “standing army” of the sort decried in the Declaration of Independence).  Opponents of an excessively strong central government argued for a reliance on the citizen-soldiers of a militia.  Men like George Washington and Alexander Hamilton argued for the utility of a professional army.  What professional historians call “contingency” (specific things happen to determine an outcome) played an important role in deciding how things worked out.[1]

Take the example of the struggle for the “Northwest Territory.”  In 1781 a Franco-American army defeated a British army at Yorktown.  In 1783, Britain and America made peace.  In what was then the “West,” Britain granted to the Americans sovereignty over the territory north of the Ohio and east of the Mississippi.  The problem for the Americans lay in making good that claim.  The Indians living there declined to surrender their lands to white settlers.  Local British officials encouraged this resistance.  So, Indian wars became one feature of the presidential administration of George Washington.

In October 1791, the Indians defeated a U.S. Army force led by Josiah Harmar.  A year later, the governor of the Northwest Territory, Arthur St. Clair, led a new army into the wilds of northwestern Ohio.  Near the Wabash River, a smaller Indian force destroyed St. Clair’s little army in less than three hours.  They inflicted well over 90 percent casualties (including two-thirds killed), while suffering only minor losses themselves.[2]

This “signal catastrophe,”[3] tipped the balance in favor of a stronger national army.  In 1792, Washington managed to ram through Congress an increased military budget, then appointed Anthony Wayne to replace St. Clair.  Wayne worked hard to revive the morale of the defeated troops, then marched deep into Indian territory.  This took a while: the decisive contest only came in August 1794.  Then, at a place called Fallen Timbers, Wayne inflicted a devastating defeat on the Indians.  Faced with a victorious, ill-disposed-toward-Britain American army, local British commanders abandoned their Indian pawns.[4]

Two years later, Wayne negotiated the Treaty of Greenville with the defeated Indians.  The treaty—as decisive a surrender as that of the Japanese in 1945—opened the Northwest to white settlement.  Later, writers would cite America’s “manifest destiny” to conquer the West.  In the 1790s, this destiny was far from manifest.  It began to become so with the work of Anthony Wayne and his army.

[1] William Hogeland, Autumn of the Black Snake: the Creation of the U.S. Army and the Invasion That Opened the West (2017).

[2] In comparison George Custer got 268 men killed at the Little Big Horn.  “St. Clair’s Defeat” defeat was commemorated in folk culture.  See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nn2rEoRmh1M

[3] I stole the phrase from the title of Patrick MacCrory’s superb book on the retreat of a British army from Kabul, Afghanistan in 1842.  I read his book in my youth and it conditioned me to think that people should be cautious about vexing Pashtuns.

[4] The episode nicely illustrates the difficulties of coalition warfare.  The British and the Indians were often in disagreement and the Indians themselves were not a solid bloc.

My Weekly Reader 29 June 2017.

A pessimist’s analysis of the American position in the world might run something like the following.  The United States is the world’s only global power.  (As such, it performs many of the vital military, political, and economic functions of a world government.)  It faces a host of regional powers bent on disrupting the global order created through American leadership after the Second World War.  Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and radical Islamist jihad all offer examples of the failure of military power as a solution to challenges.[1]  Moreover, the foundations of American power have been cracked by changes in America’s society and economy.  Liberal internationalist elites ignored the human costs of their policies until they inspired a backlash under the last three presidential administrations.  Domestic politics have come to center on divisive identity politics and the expansion of entitlements (including the entitlement to not be taxed) beyond what the traditional economy can support.  In light of these grim facts, America should shift from “hard” (lawyers, guns, and money) power to “soft” power (diplomacy, humanitarianism); America should seek to lead from behind by encouraging allies to assume their responsibilities; and America should do its nation building at home.

Eliot A. Cohen takes sharp issue with this point of view.[2]  “The chances are growing that the United States will find itself using military power chronically and at varying levels of intensity, throughout the early decades of the 21st century.”  Even over the short-run, the United States faces complex challenges: China’s rise as an economic and military power in a key region for American interests; an aggrieved Russia trying to punch above its weigh while it still can; and a transnational radical Islam that will continue to inspire local insurgencies.  These quarrels may have to be resolved in places as different as the high seas, the anarchic peripheries around or between failing states, and even outer space.  So far as he’s concerned, micro-lending isn’t going to cut it.  “Hard” power will have to be at least part of the response.

Cohen is equally persuasive, alarming, and rough-edged in the rest of the book.  Asking whether America possesses the means to use force where needed, Cohen answers with a qualified “Yes.”  His deepest concern lies in the nature and quality of thinking about the use of the instruments of power, rather than about the quality and quantity of those instruments.  One danger springs from what he sees as the capture of strategic thinking by process-oriented bureaucrats.  Plans, working papers, studies, and a deep dive into minutiae introduce rigidity and myopia into thinking about the long-term strategic environment.  In short, dopes have a large voice in the use of military power.  Another concern arises from our public discourse on these issues.  The United States, says Cohen, needs to do some serious thinking and debating on its relationship to the outside world and on how and when to use military force.  Not only must Americans recognize the need for force, they will have to accept that the country is in for a series of long wars with no easy resolution, let alone parades.  In the White House, in Congress, and in the Pentagon, decision-makers are too much concerned to define the “end state” of any military action.  Get in, wreck stuff, get out defined the 1991 and 2003 wars with Iraq.  Neither resolved the basic problem.  Here Cohen could profit from a review of the post-WWII experience.[3]

Left largely unaddressed is the problem of paying for all this power.  It seems presumptuous to believe that Americans will prefer national security to Social Security.

[1] Hence, the Obama administration recognized that the American people opposed any new war in the Middle East.  From this perspective, a deal to slow down Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons made a lot of sense.

[2] Eliot A. Cohen, The Big Stick: The Limits of Soft Power and the Necessity of Military Force (2016).

[3] See: https://waroftheworldblog.com/2017/06/29/soldiers-become-governors/