But Fear Itself

From the pathetic tenor of the American response today, I should think that, if the Russians were in fact not just to scare an American cruiser into slamming on the brakes–itself a shameful thing–but to sink one, that there would be no American military action in retaliation. We would lodge a formal protest. We would impose more sanctions. We would congratulate our officers for having shown more discipline than did the Russians. Gosh, we might even go so far as to expel the Russian ambassador. But we would not fight. (After all, that might end in nuclear war!) We have gotten so used to menacing countries that present no military threat to us whatsoever, so proud of ourselves for the trifle of having managed to kill some non-state actor or other, that we have lost the taste for running real military risks. And no matter how firm your muscles, if your mind cannot absorb risk, you are quite powerless. Without a complete transformation of our flagging American spirit, we are in for a fall, and perhaps sooner than anyone thinks.