Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Limits of American Power

By Michael Winship
August 20, 2008

In a letter written in 1648, the Swedish statesman, Axel Oxenstierna, chancellor to both King Gustavus Adolphus and Queen Christina, counseled, “Know, my son, with how little wisdom the world is governed.”

The fighting between Russia and the former Soviet republic of Georgia is an unnerving reminder of that, and of how quickly the balance of global power can be tilted from unexpected directions with barely a warning.

Read on.

3 comments:

M Henri Day said...

Mr Winship - and Mr Bacevich - are entirely correct : the United States is going to have to wake up to the fact that it alone does not own the world, and that the latter was not made for its exclusive pleasure. A word on the quote from Axel Oxenstierna's letter to his son Johan Axelsson Oxenstierna, «An nescis, mi fili, quantilla prudentia mundus regatur» - it is not an imperative («Know !»), but rather a question : «Can it be, my son, that you do not know with what little prudence/wisdom the world is governed ?». Something over which to ponder while waiting for the Bush/Cheney «October surprise»....

Bill from Saginaw said...

Certainly "change you can believe in" should include some candid public discussion of Andrew Bacevich's thesis, vulnerable as such candor on the campaign trail would be to predictable partisan demagoguery over who is a true patriotic believer in America the sole global super power, versus who is a weak, defeatist appeaser.

In my opinion, the desperately needed discussion of the limits of American military power would be best couched as a forthright critique attacking the hubris and exceptionalism contained in the strategic doctrine of the Project for a New American Century, a published blueprint for global Empire Americana that the Bush administration has been vigorously pursuing as its foreign policy Holy Grail for the last seven years. John McCain's chief campaign advisor for national security matters is a major advocate for the Project's grandiose pipe dreams of glory through perpetual militarism.

Yes, there are political risks in speaking truth to voters, just like there are risks in speaking truth to power.

But if torture and warrantless wiretapping of the citizenry by our own spy agencies are off the table for discussion this electoral season, at least we should talk a bit about the enormous real world dangers, and complete intellectual bankruptcy, that results from embracing notions of preemptive and preventative war - particularly when the warfare is to be financed with trillions of borrowed dollars.

Bill from Saginaw

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