Seydlitz likes to remind us that we here in the U.S. seem to have trouble with strategic military and geopolitical thinking. That is, we don't do it well when we do it at all.
Jason over at Armchair Generalist has been on something of a roll lately, talking about the problems at the National Security Council and what he calls, reminiscent of our man seydlitz, the "declining competence of crafting strategy".
jim at Ranger is just convinced that the whole current Beltway gang has their collective head up their ass.
But at the risk of swimming against the flow, may I suggest that we're not getting worse at this.
We were NEVER good at it.
Or, at least, our geopolitical decisions since 1945 show a fairly poor level of thinking about the places, peoples and problems involved, as opposed to simply applying whatever the reflexive, moron-grade thinking of the time was to the issue.
Let's look at the record.
Well, the immediate post-war world didn't give us a lot to work with. We couldn't really do anything about Stalin even if we'd wanted to, which we didn't. Give us some credit for resolving the occupation of Iran in a way that didn't end up with a divided Iran.
But we were about as wrong as we could be about China, letting a combination of Red hysteria and magical thinking about the wonderfulness of the Kuomintang and silly wartime propaganda about Chiang Kai-shek lead us into a cascade of muttonheaded decisions that left us with a new enemy in Asia and tied to a belligerant, strategically useless "ally" whose penchant for getting us into "let's you and him fight" situations is only forgotten today because we adopted another irritatingly pugnacious little bastard of a nation at the same time.
Globally we almost completely missed the opportunity to take advantage of the former European colonies' wars of liberation. Instead of looking inside and rediscovering our primal American Revolutionary we usually backed the old powers, needlessly alienating the new nations.
In some places we actively did worse, notably in our own hemisphere, where our penchant for "our SOBs" gave us the Duvaliers in Haiti (helping us to generations of poverty and instability), the Batistas in Cuba (helping us to Fidel) and the Somozas in Nicaragua (helping us to Danny Ortega and the FMLN). Add our other SOBs like the Shah of Iran and Ferdy Marcos in the PI. Lovely people to invite to a party, assuming it was your own robbery, rape and murder...
We completely fucked up on the Middle East, first by actively supporting the 20th Century crusader state, and then by bankrolling those rulers who supported us and them, perforce dictators because their own populace didn't like their decision. Think about it - in a place where all we really needed was passage of the Suez and petroleum, a place where we had no real need to "take sides", we looked at the places with canals and petroleum and chose...the little piece-of-shit desert theogenetic foreign body. Why? Because we felt bad we'd let Hitler saute' all his Jews?
So after doing the smart thing at Suez in '56 we proceeded to screw the pooch thereafter. And lets not go into the foolishness of what we did in the Gulf culminating in Ambassador Glaspie's offhand meeting with our then-ally Saddam who thought he'd been given to green light to settle his differences with Kuwait his way. But add that to the let's-burn-down-the-grocery-store-to-cook-our-canned-spaghetti logic of funding a bunch of whack Islamic nutjobs to fight the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
Y'all know about that.
Throw in stuff like developing a dictator in Panama and then invading to oust the same dictator. Ignoring the growing threat of instability below our southern border.
Funding a massive carrier navy designed to refight Midway in an age of submarine-launched antiship missiles.
Issuing every soldier a floppy black felt headgear...
OK, now I know it's time to stop. But, seriously, can we agree that this "loss of strategic competence" isn't exactly news?
We did one Big Thing right - we held out, and hung on - long enough for the Soviet state to collapse.
But we've fucked up SO many little things. When you look at it that way, hanging around occupying the ass-end of central Asia and invading the valley of the Tigris and Euphrates doesn't look all that much different, or stupider, does it? Stupid? Yes.
But not new or different, eh?