World View: For all its military might, the US has failed to get its way in Afghanistan and Iraq, severely denting the prestige of the world's only superpower
By Patrick Cockburn
Sunday 11 December 2011
"...Great powers depend on a reputation for invincibility and are wise not to put this too often to the test. The British Empire never quite recovered in the eyes of the world from the gargantuan effort it had to make to defeat a few tens of thousand Boer farmers.
What makes the US inability to win in Iraq and Afghanistan so damaging is that US policy-making has been progressively militarised. Congress will vote the Pentagon vast sums, while it stints the State Department a few billion dollars. "The Department of Defense is the behemoth among federal agencies," noted the 9/11 Commission Report. "With an annual budget larger than the gross domestic product of Russia, it is an empire."
But it is an empire that has failed to deliver in recent years, though without paying a political price.....
Overall, US influence is ebbing in the Middle East. For all Mr Biden's talking up, the Iraq war was a disaster for the US. Similarly in Afghanistan, massive military force has produced meagre political dividends. Washington may rejoice that Muammar Gaddafi is gone and Bashar al-Assad may follow him. But the US has lost or is losing its paramount position in Turkey and Egypt as the military establishments of these countries lose control...."