“Americans love to fight. All real Americans love the sting and clash of battle. When you were kids, you all admired the champion marble shooter, the fastest runner, the big-league ball players and the toughest boxers. Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser. Americans play to win all the time. That’s why Americans have never lost and will never lose a war. The very thought of losing is hateful to Americans. Battle is the most significant competition in which a man can indulge. It brings out all that is best and it removes all that is base.”
— U.S. General George S. Patton, 1944
America’s unrivaled military power today is both a blessing and a curse. The nation was forged violently at birth during the overthrow of the British government. The Revolution drew on the rugged frontier culture of the colonial times. That culture is deeply ingrained in U.S. DNA to this day. The Redcoats left because the rebels butchered them up lovely, not because of any respect for the principles of the revolutionaries. An unbroken string of average Americans from 1776 till today, deep down inside have never stopped believing that butchery is the answer to any external threat. Therefore, Americans have always elected leaders from both parties who support a strong defense, while the most powerful military machine in the world is made up of volunteers only.
Unrivaled military power is a blessing because the United States won’t suffer the ignominy of a military defeat anytime soon. But the curse is just as considerable and profound: as a giant hammer, the United States looks around at the world and sees a bunch of nails. The great paradox of our time is that the gravest threats are far more complicated than nails that simply require a good pounding. Islamic State in the Levant (ISIL) is a prime example. Read the rest of this entry