Wednesday, August 31, 2011

There aren't too many legitimate parallels between Nazi Germany and modern America...

...but I'd argue that one can be drawn here:
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?


  1. Interesting analogy, sir. I like your closing paragraph in particular. Will have to use it appropriately.

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  3. That sir...

    Is quite prescient except for one point. Who's the first politician with something to lose to go on record and say "perfect" security is not worth the cost?

    Maybe we're already seeing it in the new "supercommittee" which if it fails to meet its charter in debt reduction will cause a huge slash in DoD dollars. By diffusing responsibility for the reduction in DoD spending, maybe this is the start of a trend that will make its way to other popular but unsustainable policies.

    But to be fair the White House promotion of "resilience" is as close as anyone has yet come. But it looks that as of yet they think the political cost is too much to come out and say what it really means and they keep toeing around the pool on it.