From Imperial Offense to Imperial Defense

There are many reasons why President George W. Bush might have wanted to replace Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld with Robert M. Gates: To distance himself from the current military disaster in Iraq, to make the adoption of a new Iraqi strategy easier, to prevent further disunity within the military, or to clear the path for a revival of Republican fortunes in the 2008 elections. All of these may, in fact, have been contributing factors in Gates’ appointment; yet, on a deeper level, the move can also be read as signaling a momentous shift in America’s global posture — from imperial offense to imperial defense. For the past six years, the top officials in charge of American foreign and military policy have known how to play rough-and-tumble offensive football, but were simply clueless when it came to defense. However, just as every football team must, at some point, surrender possession […]