July was the deadliest month yet for U.S. forces fighting in Afghanistan. In Iraq, while political factions continue a five-month squabble over who will lead the government, insurgent violence is growing. The WikiLeaks info-dump of more than 90,000 documents, in addition to proving to the few who had not yet realized that the United States is in deep doo-doo, have shown that our ally Pakistan is collaborating with the Taliban and al-Qaeda to plan attacks on coalition forces in Afghanistan.
You'd think that the Pentagon had enough on its plate without more war. But that's not how superpowers think. We have entered, as Foreign Policy In Focus (FPIF) contributor Fran Shor argues, an age of "imperial overkill," in which we "rely even more heavily on the military to compensate for a waning hegemony in other domains." Bogged down in our very own arc of crisis in southwest Asia, the Pentagon wants to make sure that other potential kings of the hill don't take advantage of our preoccupation.
And so, over the last few months, the Obama administration has been engaged in serious displays of force in Asia. Washington has tightened the screws on North Korea and gone head-to-head against China. The Pentagon may well be signaling to Pyongyang and Beijing that it can handle the additional fight. But we might inadvertently find ourselves halfway down the path to war before it's too late to step back.