PGL at Angry Bear Is Shrill
A Hearty Welcome from the Reality-Based Community to Ben Stein!

Strategy Secrets of Grand Moff Tarkin

Matthew Yglesias points out that Bush grand strategy really did come from the Dark Side:

Star Wars and International Relations | TPMCafe: I've been reading John Ikenberry's book, After Victory: Institutions, Strategic Restraint, and the Rebuilding of Order After Major Wars and it's really great. Certainly, the ideas merit wider exposure and even though it was published in 2000 it sheds a ton of light on more recent events. But it's done in a bit of a dense, academic style. So it occurred to me that one of the main themes is actually captured pretty well in a famous bit of Star Wars dialogue....

What Tarkin's talking about here is... do[ing] away with the former constitutional order... to create a hegemonic one.... Tagge is skeptical that this will work -- the political processes may be cumbersome, but they're actually necessary to maintain the system's stability. It would actually be even more cumbersome for the center to be constantly trying to impose its will on everyone without the assistance of the bureacracy. Tarkin's counterproposal is that the development of the Death Star has changed the situation -- use it once on Alderaan to make an example of them, and in the future fear will keep the local systems in line.... [S]omething of this sort was motivating the Bush administration in 2002-2003. The key decisionmakers took the view that technological developments (the "revolution in military affairs") had radically enhanced America's ability to overthrow foreign governments. Rather than simply keep this power in our back pocket for use when circumstances clearly warranted it (as in Afghanistan) there was a palpable desire to make an example out of Iraq to send a message....

Except, of course, it hasn't worked very well. The alternative order-building strategy of liberalism and institutions was undermined by the war, while the war itself has had perverse effects. Countries... well-disposed toward us regard our actions as erratic and unreliable, making them less disposed to cooperate... countries... ill-disposed toward us regard our actions as essentially ineffectual and are also less disposed to cooperate.