Using American force wisely

Anatol Lieven in the Boston Review:

A fatal riddle of our time is why the United States, which in the end won the Cold War peacefully and emerged from it as the uncontested world hegemon, has in a few years thrown away its moral and political leadership through reckless and illegal war.

James Carroll, in his latest book, House of War, illuminates part of the answer. Carroll attributes most of the blame to forces within the Pentagon—his “house of war”— and in particular the U.S. Air Force. He argues that it is chiefly to them—to their professional needs and paranoid mentality—that we owe the attitudes that have prevented the United States from taking advantage of the peaceful end of the Cold War, and that have shaped the disastrous response to 9/11: “The story of the Pentagon’s rise marks an ongoing melding of personal and public paranoia, of psychological and political stresses, a process by which unsubstantiated ephemera were again and again transformed into tangible reality, taking on heft and moral gravitas.”

More here.