At the end of a provocative essay entitled "Why We Don't Win" featured in the current Claremont Review, Angelo Codevilla raises the hollowness of strategic thinking about projecting power that has been displayed by the denizens of the ruling class ensconced for several decades in Washington in positions of military and diplomatic power. Codevilla is specifically referring to America's political class whose many failures over the past 10 years have occurred because of a basic inability to understand the necessity of projecting force in prudential and effective ways. This means, observes Codevilla, divorcing the use of power from grand political narratives like nation-building or constructing central political institutions. This might have meant doing relatively unsavory things like buying off tribes or clans or villages to hedge against the re-emergence of Al-Qaeda or the Taliban in the provinces. He notes with a dry sadness, it seems, the case of Major Nidal Hassan as another glaring instance of a basic refusal to think about barbarism and the need to locate it and destroy or diminish it irrespective of larger concerns.
Codevilla's piece, however, raises the not insignificant larger question of why these failures are made over and over again. The logical culprit is a shared deficiency amongst policy elites, who lurk strangely in both Republican and Democratic circles, about the nature and uses of power. Of course, Obama has raised these failures even more so with a host of foreign and military policy decisions. Codevilla notes that tossing out a ruling class is difficult. With Obama we may have finally reached the tipping point that ejects them from power. Who better has been formed under the power of their Humanitarianism, intellectual privileges and prejudices, and courted their favor and ideas throughout his adult life and political odyssey to power. The difference is that with Obama, the protective coating is off, he is too pure for disguises as he repeatedly told us in his autobiographies. We now see the sheer refusal to think about the arts of statecraft concretely embodied in the mind and will of one ruler. The larger question is assuming the return of something like conservatism to power in Washington, do we now move beyond the cadre of elite policy makers in the State Department, the Pentagon, and even within the military, and begin to apply the pressure that leaves our enemies "stupified," as the Prince counselled, before their destroyed dreams.