My good friend Pierre Sprey took issue with my characterization of Steven Walt’s critique of US grand strategy as being excellent subject to two omissions. Attached herewith are Pierre’s comments — they are spot on, and I stand corrected on my characterization of “excellent” … or perhaps more accurately … I stand clearly and fairly skewered. 😉
Cap Ferrat, France
Comments by Pierre Sprey:
Although I appreciate that Mr. Walt’s heart is in the right place–particularly regarding his admirably staunch opposition to the malign influence of the Israelis, the neocons and “W”–his essay’s concept of US grand strategy for the last two decades is just as shallow as the crap from the NYT, the WSJ, the Post and the Council on Foreign Relations. He commits the two fundamental errors common to nearly all foreign policy pundits, errors that inevitably reduce their beard-stroking discussions of “grand strategy” to silliness:
1. He assumes that the US has a foreign policy or a grand strategy when in fact it has none. The US government’s actions, like every other country’s, are dominated by its domestic politics. And those politics dominate every move made with regard to other countries.
2. He ignores the three most powerful–and most permanent–domestic influences on America’s actions abroad: Big Oil, Wall Street and the MICC. Anybody who ignores these three in recounting U.S. actions abroad is either a) hopelessly out of touch, or b) is serving the interests of the defense, financial or oil establishments, or all three.
Aside from these two crippling errors in his reasoning, Mr. Walt’s fulsome praise for the success of the USG’s “offshore balancing”–that is, the Big Oil (and MICC) inspired policy of setting Iran and Iraq at each other’s throats since the 1940s–shows either profound ignorance or profound Kissingerian cynicism.
One last piece of silliness in the Walt essay, quite common to journalists and historians seeking a “hook” for their American Empire story, is the idea of the August 2, 1990 “turning point”, a date that marks the beginning of the decline in our allegedly successful empire. Such hooks only mask the inescapable spread of rot within empires, usually starting at birth.
With Mr. Walt’s help, I am coming to believe all public discussions of grand strategy should be greeted with howls of derisive laughter.
Post Under Discussion: