Rather, I fault Washington for its unwillingness to acknowledge its persistent cluelessness in the face of all that has occurred since a prior US strategy purportedly ‘won’ the Cold War. What I am asking from strategists is this: fess up to your failures. Acknowledge the limits of your predictive abilities. Quit simplifying. Shut up.
In the present age, strategy as such has become a dangerous chimera. Strategy sustains the illusion that the United States can and should determine the course of world events, thereby keeping America in the global driver’s seat. Yet whatever is coming down the pike, you can count on one thing: it’s going to be something other than what General Dempsey anticipates as a result of his strategic seminars. Nor should we expect Secretary of State John Kerry (or Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, if he wins confirmation) to do any better. When it comes to looking round the bend, the civilians are no more adept than the soldiers. As always, the United States — like every other nation — will be left to cope as best it can.
The one thing that the US actually could do to secure its future is the one thing that it refuses to do: demonstrate a capacity to manage its own affairs; live within its means; set its own house in order. In Washington, talk about global strategy provides an excuse to avoid doing what needs to be done.