However successful the first two years of the war, the Third Reich never came close to escaping the dilemma posed by the fact that the political and military-strategic costs of expansion continuously outran the benefits of a newly gained hegemonic position.(Thats from Michael Geyer's "German Strategy in the Age of Machine Warfare, 1914-1945.")
I'll grant you that the parallel to the U.S. strategic position in 2011 may not be staggeringly obvious. But take a second to think about it: immediate and overwhelming operational success in the military manifestations of the "War on Terror" have in time given way to the creeping realization that the implementation of our new national security paradigm -- defense through offense; counterterrorism through the elimination of uncooperative regimes and strengthening of incapable governments -- likely creates unsustainable burdens for the American military, government, and society at large.
Germany's strategic challenge at the outset of the Second World War was to reconcile bad geography, inadequate economy, and destructive social pressures with the manifold negative consequences of any attempt to forcibly alter these circumstances through conquest. The effort failed largely because Hitler's ideological and social objectives forced destabilizing military action before the Reichswehr could strengthen sufficiently to ensure quick and decisive victory. Operational success could not overcome strategic difficulties.
The modern American security establishment has convinced itself of the necessity of creating and sustaining certain conditions that will ostensibly lead to perfect security. Isn't it time we consider whether the political and military-strategic costs of a security policy based on opportunistic intervention and unconstrained global freedom of action are justified by the alleged benefits of global primacy?