There is a terrible rule of war. Whatever new weapon that you introduce onto the battlefield, your adversary will eventually acquire it as well. Indeed, they will often use an industrial-strength version of that very same weapon against you.
Hiram Maxim invented the modern machine gun – automated and oil-cooled – but the British army dismissed the invention. Not so the Germans, who used it with deadly accuracy against the British in World War I. The French, meanwhile, were the first to use modern chemical warfare in 1915 by deploying tear gas against the Germans with little effect. The Germans quickly improved on the innovation by developing chlorine gas, and later mustard gas, with devastating effect. And, of course, Americans invented nuclear weapons and then spent the next half-century trying to forestall their use by others.
The perfect weapon, however, has no odor and makes no sound. It has no half-life. It doesn’t require huge factories and production lines. There are no truly effective defenses.
The perfect weapon, of course, is ideology. And the United States, in the nuclear age, believed that it had created just such a perfect weapon. Washington would export the American version of liberal democracy and refashion the world in its own image. In so doing, America would make the world safe not so much for democracy, but for Americans.
But a funny thing happened on the way to hegemony. The very ideology that the United States assumed would defeat all comers has in fact been turned against the United States. Liberal democracy contains within it the very seeds of the American empire’s destruction. Call it blowback, TINA-style. Read More