I very much enjoy reading VDH’s historical works, but I’ve never seen a better historian so completely unable to correctly apply the lessons of history to current events:
The ancient ingredients of war are all on the horizon. An old postwar order crumbles amid American indifference. Hopes for true democracy in post-Soviet Russia, newly capitalist China or ascendant Turkey long ago were dashed. Tribalism, fundamentalism and terrorism are the norms in the Middle East as the nation-state disappears.
Under such conditions, history’s wars usually start when some opportunistic — but often relatively weaker — power does something unwise on the gamble that the perceived benefits outweigh the risks. That belligerence is only prevented when more powerful countries collectively make it clear to the aggressor that it would be suicidal to start a war that would end in the aggressor’s sure defeat.
What is scary in these unstable times is that a powerful United States either thinks that it is weak or believes that its past oversight of the postwar order was either wrong or too costly — or that after Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, America is no longer a force for positive change.
A large war is looming, one that will be far more costly than the preventative vigilance that might have stopped it.
He’s correct that a large war is looming. Where exactly it will start, or which sides the various parties will take, is presently unknown. But VDH appears to have completely ignored the lessons of the Athenian adventure at Syracuse about which he wrote so informatively, and to have ignored that the collapse of the “nation-state” in the Levant was always inevitable due to the artificial and externally imposed nature of their creations; they were never nations in the first place.
That is why we can safely assume that the “nation-states” in Africa will continue to collapse as well. And, of course, that is why the “powerful” United States has been rendered increasingly impotent; it is no longer a homogenous white Christian nation committed to Anglo-Saxon ideals. Indeed, one cannot truly consider it a nation at all, it is best described as an imperial multi-national, multi-ethnic state akin to the Byzantine, Roman, and Austro-Hungarian empires.