“To survey the past 20 years from our present, much reduced vantage point is to be struck above all by the once cherished, now discarded illusions littering the landscape. Prominent among those shattered illusions are the following:
- The insistence that history has a discernible purpose, made manifest by the evolving American experiment that is destined to prevail universally
- The conviction that the United States is called upon to exercise “global leadership” and that our governing elites possess the capacity to do so effectively
- The assurance that U.S.-promoted globalization will produce unprecedented wealth while simultaneously contributing to global peace and harmony, with the American people thereby assured of both greater prosperity and greater security
- The notion that a self-regulated or minimally regulated market produces the greatest good for the greatest number of citizens
- The belief that America’s privileged place in the international order relieves the United States of any obligation to live within its means
- The expectation that in times of crisis, the American people and their leaders will selflessly unite, setting aside partisan differences to act in the common good
- The claim, for too long indulged by conservatives, that the Republican Party takes seriously the preservation of traditional values
- Perhaps above all, the belief that the United States, having mastered the art of war, can quickly and economically overcome any foe, high-tech precision weapons and superior professionalism offering a surefire recipe for victory.
Not one of these is true. No amount of recalibration or reformulation or trying harder next time will make any of them true. To pretend otherwise serves no purpose. To escape from our era of ideological fantasy requires acknowledging this reality—facing the dismal consequences that 20 years of American arrogance and misjudgment have yielded. Seldom has a nation relinquished a position of advantage as quickly and recklessly as has the United States in just the past two decades.”
More, from Andrew Bacevich, here.