I've always thought that our real problem in the run-up to WWII wasn't our refusal to attack Berlin as soon as Germany occupied Czechoslovakia. It was the fact that we had spent 1% of national output on defense (compared to at least 4% since the end of WWII) for the two decades since the end of WWI, meaning that we had the crappiest weapons of all the belligerents, with the exception of our aircraft carriers and battleships, and the smallest army (at 100,000 men), compared to the millions of troops each of the Axis powers had mobilized. That unreadiness for war (and the fact that we were fighting major industrial powers who made their own warships, artillery and tanks, not industrial pygmies like Iraq and Libya) was what cost us dearly in the initial stages of the war, not our refusal to attempt to bomb Berlin on the day after Hitler annexed the Sudetenland. In truth, even if all 100,000 of our troops had been in France during the Phony War, they would probably have accompanied British forces out of France during the Dunkirk evacuation - they were certainly beaten by Japanese troops far inferior (in terms of equipment and tactics) to the German forces that overran Western Europe like a knife through butter.
Today's America is radically different. We spend more on defense than all of our allies and adversaries put together. In this respect, we are mirroring our spending during WWII, wherein we put out more hardware than our allies and adversaries combined. If you're an industrial pygmy like Libya, every battle matters, because deterring adversaries depends less on your (laughable) capability to inflict losses than your sheer pugnacity. If you're Uncle Sam, with the best hardware and the most equipment, nobody (except a drooling retard like bin Laden, who has never and will never be able to conquer these United States) will write you off no matter how many battles you decide not to fight. We've slaughtered tens of thousands of al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. It's time to declare an end to the punitive expeditions (and I think that's all they should have been - this nation-building* stuff was what comprised most of the $1.2T we invested there) and leave.
* Plus - we're not really building nations in America's image - we're subsidizing sharia states in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I think you grossly oversimplify neocon thinking with your “Munich Syndrome”. It completely ignores the question of “why attack this dictator and not that one”.
I think that the neocons are grossly misguided in their view of the world and the need for the US to involve itself so deeply in so many places in the world, but I think their motives are much more complicated than your “Munic Syndrome”.
Nice try at a theory, but I don’t think it holds much water. Bush and Rumsfeld didn’t go into Iraq because they thought Saddam was on the march, Hitler-style. They went in because they thought they saw an opportunity to spread Western Democracy to a bunch of lunatic savages who were on the path to possessing nuclear weapons.
Again, I agree with you that their thinking was grossly misguided, but, again, I don’t think “Munich Syndrome” explains that thinking.
As for Obama, I would say “that’s a completely different kettle of fish” except for the fact that all the neocons are siding with him, which makes me think that whatever ideology the neocons ever had — whatever plan or worldview they ever had — is so flawed that it has devolved into agreement with one of the biggest blunderers in the history of human civilization.
F* Obama and F* the neocons who agree with his disastrous foreign policy.