The American Interest

Global Challenges in 2017

In terms of any traditionally understood calculus of national security, the United States is the most invulnerable country in the world.  America is armed to the teeth, sheltered on two sides by oceans, and supremely capable of projecting her power to the distant shores.  Unlike Russia, China, and India, she has no territorial disputes with her neighbors, and her integrity is not threatened by separatist forces based on ethnicity or religion.

Today’s America has the potential to be a satiated power, like Rome under the Five Good Emperors, Britain for many decades after Napoleon, or the German Kaiserreich until the 1890’s.  That status did not imply those powers’ withdrawal from world affairs.  Trajan, Castlereagh, and Bismarck were not isolationists; they were prudent fine-tuners of their external environment, always cognizant of proportionate costs in pursuit of limited objectives.

The problem is that the American “deep state” (fluently depicted by Mike Lofgren in his recent book of that name), and especially the shadow government’s key components in the national-security apparat and the military-industrial complex, reject all conventional criteria in their definition of interests and threats.  They insist on the maintenance of American global primacy, based on the notions of self-aggrandizing exceptionalism.  The result is an ideological,...

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