Steve Clemons tells us today that
- Afghanistan, like Iraq, is sending the impression to the rest of the world that America is at a “limit” point in its military and power capabilities.
He goes on to say,
- Limits are very, very, very bad in the great power game — and Afghanistan is yet again, an exposer of monumental limits on American power.
Now, Steve is usually an intelligent and reasonable person. So I’m mystified why he is giving the impression here that the US had no significant “limits” on its great-power capabilities until the Iraq war; and that the relatively sudden “revelation” that there are such limits is both surprising and “very, very bad.”
C’meon, Steve. Yeah, maybe you grew up more in the era of post-Cold War US uberpowerdom than I did. But even then, there were always limits on US power.
And you know what, for any kind of a realist, knowing there are limits and figuring out how to work effectively within them is a good thing, not a bad thing.
It was GWB and his crowd who thought there were no limits, and that they could make their own history regardless of other powers or other interests.
… Steve’s piece was basically about Afghanistan. Neither he nor anyone else has yet been able to explain to me why the US (which is located halfway round the world from Afghanistan) and NATO– in which the allies are also very geographically and culturally distant from Afghanistan– could ever be conceived to be the ideal tools for “pacifying” Afghanistan.
Let’s have a whole lot more realism in this discussion. Including by recognizing there are limits to US power.