While most of the country has been fixated on issues surrounding the North Korean nuclear crisis, other foreign-policy issues of real importance have been passing unnoticed—and are moving in the wrong direction. U.S. military decisions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria threaten to extend our near-unbroken record of earning strategic failure well into the future.
Don’t be either fooled or relieved by President Trump’s waiving, for now, of nuclear sanctions on Iran, and thus his forgoing of an explicit withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), otherwise known as the Iran nuclear agreement. Trump still is determined to destroy the agreement, though not necessarily in the way he threatens, or in a way some have feared.
The Iowa-class battleships will remain museum pieces for the foreseeable future. Still, if the will and the funding were there, there are some very interesting things that could be done with them that would neatly patch holes in the U.S. Navy’s force structure—particularly the ability to fight and sink enemy ships. While a comeback is unlikely, it’s always nice to dream.
Every one of these crises could have resulted in a global conflagration. Earlier crises (such as the Berlin Blockade of 1948 or the Korean attack of 1950) could have led to war, but they took place before the superpowers developed huge stockpiles of nuclear-armed intercontinental missiles. Each crisis was eventually resolved in favor of peace, but in every case both sides relied on gambles, and survived as much by luck as by strategy. At some point, luck runs out.