THOSE WHO WOULD PLAN OUR EXPEDITION TO SYRACUSE
Further thoughts on the implications of the great Barnett-Kaplan debate
During the Peloponnesian War
, the democratic Athenians faced a determined and powerful enemy in oligarchic Sparta. The Athenians were a great naval power and were secure from Spartan attack safely behind the " the long walls" to Piraeus
. Control of the sea meant the advantage of greater mobility and the wealth brought in from trade within the empire and thus Athens held the upper hand, though the war was far from won.
It was at this juncture that the citizens of Athens were convinced to turn away from prosecuting the war against Sparta toward an expedition to conquer far-away Syracuse because, someday, Syracuse might grow strong enough to become the enemy of Athens. With great fanfare, the Expedition was launched and it ended, after ruinous expenditure, in the defeat of mighty Athens. The Syracuse campaign reversed the tide of fortune and gave heart to Sparta, which went on to become a passsable sea power in its own right and defeat the now gravely weakened Athenians.
Today we have those for whom the War on Terror, a complicated and shadowy battle against a rising transnational Islamist insurgency
that wishes our destruction, is not enough. Instead they look at Russia, a weakened former foe, struggling against part of the same Islamist insurgency and see not a potential ally but a target of opportunity
. Others see China rising and call for a " Cold War II "
based on - well - nostalgia for Cold War I
. I can't think of a better way to isolate the United States than to drive - actively drive - all the other great powers into an active collusion against our interests while we are engaged in a 4GW war
against the Islamist terror networks. Even if such a pessimitic analysis of Russia and China is correct there is something to be said for biding one's time, being subtle and prioritizing objectives.
This isn't a " Clash of Civilizations" or even " The West against the Rest" but a call for " America vs. The World " and it represents a strategic vision on par with invading Russia in winter or starting a land war in Asia.