Most Americans struggle to recognize or understand their country's permanent security state, in which elected politicians seem to run the show, but the CIA and the Pentagon often take the lead -- a state that inherently gravitates toward military, rather than diplomatic, solutions to foreign-policy challenges. Viewed through the lens of history, the main job of U.S. presidents is to be mature and wise enough to stand up to the permanent war machine.
Because of decisions likely to be taken this year and next, nuclear weapons will become a normalized and permanent part of the 21st-century American arsenal, and therefore of the arsenals of many other nations; nuclear weapons, that is, will have become an essential element of the human future -- as long as that future lasts.
The Obama presidency has seen the U.S. military's elite tactical forces increasingly used in an attempt to achieve strategic goals. But with Special Operations missions kept under tight wraps, Americans have little understanding of where their troops are deployed, what exactly they are doing, or what the consequences might be down the road.