Dominick Cummings explains
When Pearl Harbor happened, Washington was in shock. Unprovoked attack!
What had really happened?
America had tightened economic warfare against Japan including shutting down oil. Then it suddenly confiscated Japanese assets held in America. Japan won’t do anything, said the high status Washington insiders, because rationally they know attacking America will be fatal.
But in Japan they reasoned differently: America has clearly decided to destroy our regime so we should attack and try to change the balance of forces.
Washington’s ‘insanity’/‘irrationality’ was Tokyo’s rational calculation.
Why is this relevant?
America has many virtues but its ruling class does not have a long culture of imperial success and it has not developed a ruling class that generates leaders good at judgements about other regimes. Britain had people like Lord Cromer ruling the Egyptians — a very smart, cold, calculating cynical aristocrat with empire in his blood, a sort much better suited to imperial politics than the output of American graduate schools who dominate Washington and repeatedly, naively misjudge other countries. We’ll bring democracy to Afghanistan… We’ll stop corruption in Afghanistan… We’ll bring LGBTQ+++ to Afghanistan… Argh we gotta flee Afghanistan…
Even very smart and able Americans such as Dean Acheson were not good at assessing other regimes. Imperial politics is not the same as democratic politics. Also notice that when Tyler Cowen interviewed Brennan, a former CIA director, and asked about the Tetlock project, by now known in outline to many in politics, Brennan didn’t even know what it was — a very telling detail. If the CIA director doesn’t know about the most interesting project to counter intelligence failures, what else doesn’t he know?!
In the Cold War we saw Washington make repeated errors. The Vietcong are about to fold, they said, year after year. Turned out the Vietcong defined their priorities and rationality differently. America had to retreat.
Just last year we could see how bad the trillion dollar network of DoD and intelligence agencies were on Afghanistan and the Taliban. America had to retreat.
And now Washington’s high status insiders are confidently declaring what it would be ‘rational’ and ‘crazy’ for Putin to do.
Given their complete inability to correctly anticipate what Putin – or pretty much any of their other enemies – was going to do previously, what are the odds that they have gotten it right this time? More importantly, most of the people making decisions about the use of US military force have no loyalty to nor concern for the American people or their national interests, so they’re much more willing to take risks than actual Americans would.