Why We Fight…and Fail

by Robert Nagle on 2/1/2007

in World Affairs

Michael Blowhard asks why the US continues to get involved in unending military adventures that inevitably result in failure? Here are my answers.

  1. The U.S. still believes it’s the only superpower and that this obligates them to fix the world’s problems. There’s a kind of flattery going on.
  2. Most Americans have little idea how vociferously the rest of the world (even its allies) object to  interventionist policies.
  3. Mainstream news is 24 hour news, which focuses on “live breaking stories” (usually some general or secretary of defense making some pro forma announcement) instead of critical perspectives. The 24 hour format (and the need for ratings) makes it necessary to prettify the reporting with “soft news.” On CNN, news segments are repeated ad infinitum; unceasing war reporting would make the channel “too depressing.” They have to package the war in a way that doesn’t cause viewer paralysis.
  4. GWB is a particularly gullible and ineffectual leader.
  5. The US govt has very few institutional checks on its global application of power.
  6. (With regard to the Middle East specifically): the U.S. has generally declined to rebuke Israel for some of its most heinous policies, thus letting itself turn into a lightning rod for Arab criticism and enmity.
  7. The DOD has lost its focus, changing from defending the US to righting the world’s problems. This, I happily predict, is going to change. From now on, the focus will change from nabbing international terrorists and overthrowing troublemakers to defending the homeland and securing the borders. This is a positive development.

(Actually, Daniel Kahneman and Jonathan Renshon offer more methodical analysis in their article Why Hawks Win).

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