America relies on a small number of brave men — men brave enough to speak from their hearts about the hubris ruling America’s soul in the early 21st century. Such men are scarce today. Instead we have these…
We need not apologize for these successes. History will record that America’s strategy for fighting terrorism was a good strategy, that the plan for Operation Iraq Freedom was a good plan – and that the execution of that plan by our young men and women in uniform was unequalled in its excellence by anything in the annals of war.
General “Tommy” Franks, in his autobiography American Soldier (page 854)
Better yet are the writings of he who future generations might regard as the chronicler of the last days to America’s imperium: Max Boot, Olin Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations — our own, perhaps slightly deranged, Kipling.
The United States spends more on its military than the next dozen or so nations combined. This has bought unparalleled strength in every facet of warfare — full-spectrum dominance, in Pentagon lingo — that far surpasses the capabilities of such previous would-be hegemons as Rome, Britain and Napoleonic France.
“Doctrine of ‘Big Enchilada’“, Max Boot, 15 October 2002
The passage of time has granted no greater balance or perspective to Boot’s vision.
That the United States and its allies won anyway — and won so quickly — must rank as one of the signal achievements in military history. Previously, the gold standard of operational excellence had been the German blitzkrieg through the Low Countries and France in 1940. The Germans managed to conquer France, the Netherlands, and Belgium in just 44 days, at a cost of “only” 27,000 dead soldiers. The United States and Britain took just 26 days to conquer Iraq (a country 80 percent of the size of France), at a cost of 161 dead, making fabled generals such as Erwin Rommel and Heinz Guderian seem positively incompetent by comparison.
“The New American Way of War“, Foreign Affairs, July 2003
General Frank and Max Boot act as mirrors, showing us our greatest foes: hubris and paranoia. This post discusses the first; we will examine the latter another day. For more on this subject see America’s Most Dangerous Enemy and President Grant warns us about the dangers of national hubris.
These quotations are from “The American Military Crisis“, Andrew Bacevich, TomDispatch, 11 August 2008. This essay is well worth reading.
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Prevous posts about America’s grand strategy
A related question concerns grand strategy. Does America need a grand strategy? If so, what should it be? Answers to these questions illuminate many of the questions hotly debated about foreign policy and national security. Here are a few of my posts on this subject.
- The Myth of Grand Strategy (31 January 2006)
- America’s Most Dangerous Enemy (1 March 2006)
- America takes another step towards the “Long War” (24 July 2007)
- One step beyond Lind: What is America’s geopolitical strategy? (28 October 2007)
- ABCDs for today: About Blitzkrieg, COIN, and Diplomacy (21 February 2008)
- How America can survive and even prosper in the 21st Century – part I (19 March 2007; revised 7 June 2008)
- How America can survive and even prosper in the 21st Century – part II (14 June 2008)
- America’s grand strategy: lessons from our past (30 June 2008) – chapter 1 in a series of notes
- America’s grand strategy, now in shambles (2 July 2008) — chapter 3
- America’s grand strategy, insanity at work (7 July 2008) — chapter 4
- Thoughts on fixing America’s national security apparatus (11 August 2008)
Click here to see a list of all posts about strategy and military theory.