The dream is dead:

I largely agree with this and this. The whole “fretting over Iranian influence” thing is something I can never decide whether is cynical or just stupid. After all, Iran is poorly positioned to dominate the Arabic world. They’re the wrong ethnicity (not even Arabs!), they speak the wrong language, and they follow the wrong sect of Islam, not to mention a very different culture and history, just for starters. They’re also far from the greatest military power in the region. Ultimately, much of the case for their peerless villainy comes from the rhetoric of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which again brings up the question of cynical or evil, as conservatives have tried to convince us of the dangers of Venezuela in large part because of the deliberately inflammatory shit Hugo Chavez used to say. One wonders what other countries would think about us based on the ramblings of Donald Trump, who just about has about as much power as Ahmadinejad had. Is it because they’re simpletons who aren’t sophisticated enough to understand the difference between rhetoric for domestic consumption and actual power alignments, or because they understand it all too well but figure it’s useful to advance their views? I still have no idea. And I doubt it really matters.

At the same time, after a certain point it’s hard to blame the WWII generation for the pursuit of new Hitlers. The current power generation is a whole other breed from the WWII folks. The latter assuredly began our modern era of militarized national security policy, and mainly out of economic rather than defense-related motivations, but they at least seemed to understand the need for caution and restraint. Most of them were around when America wasn’t a world power, and didn’t take that for granted. The current power generation is all people who have known nothing else, who drew all sorts of dubious conclusions about militarism from the collapse of Communism and the Gulf War, and seem hellbent on pursuing the kind of impractical purity politics on an international stage that forms the antithesis of the older folks’ ideas of how to proceed. Perhaps this is unsurprising, as this sort of generational reaction is nothing new: as The Sleepwalkers argues, much of the WWI-era leaders in Europe were self-consciously “tough” and “manly” due to the earlier generation of supple schemers like Bismarck. Guess we just have to wait for already useless fossils like Samantha Power and Bill Kristol to retire or die off, and get replaced by people raised on the sheer pointlessness of Iraq and Obama’s less-destructive but just as hopeless attempts to steer Middle Eastern politics, before we can hope for balance of any sort.

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