The job of secretary of defense is to be on the job

A decade ago, I wrote a book with the subtitle “The New Isolationism and the Coming Global Disorder.” I’ve been wrong about a thing or two (or three) over the years. I wish I had been wrong about this. Disorder comes in two varieties: disorder within a system (like a coup or revolution inside a sovereign state) or of the system itself (like the de facto collapse of the state system throughout parts of Africa and the Middle East). The former may be devastating, but it is usually containable. The latter can sometimes be a matter of quiet erosion before it becomes one of outright collapse. But its consequences are hard to predict, difficult to control and sometimes epochal in scope. We are living in an era of dissolving systems. The Biden administration struggles to gain control over illegal immigration at the southern border. It’s failing. Beijing is gradually seizing control of the South China Sea, over which one-fifth of the world’s trade passes. Nothing stops it. Iran is enriching uranium to near weapons grade. The world barely notices. Ukraine is running out of munitions. Congress is too divided to help save an ally. Hezbollah’s attacks on northern Israel and Houthi attacks on international shipping risk a much broader Middle East war, potentially involving the United States. We seem to be careening toward it without brakes. For each of these crises, you can point to a separate cause. The collapse of governance in much of the developing world. The power of drug cartels in South America and terrorist militias in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip. The increasingly close alliance between Iran, Russia and China, forming a new axis of resentment, repression and revanchism. But there’s a deeper cause: the fading away of Pax Americana — the idea that the […]

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By Donato