A few weeks ago, Matt Yglesias wrote an excellent post about how neoconservatives seem to think of the US as some sort of all-powerful superhero. It was funny, with a lot of truth to it, but part of me doubted that even neocons are that delusional. Now it seems that that self-proclaimed realist, Niall Ferguson, is outdoing even PNAC:
Like Superman, the United States has vast potential strength. If it wants to be, it really can be “faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.” It is richer by far than the other countries. It has mind-boggling firepower, enough to incinerate Iran and North Korea in an afternoon.
Is he serious? He really thinks that wars with Iran and the DPRK would be pieces of cake? An invasion of Iran would obviously be a disaster; we would have to pacify 70 million people, fight an insurgency far larger than any we’ve faced in Iraq, and muster the troop strength needed to not lose within a day. None of that is possible. In North Korea, we wouldn’t have the occupation problem (we could just reunite it with the South), but the invasion itself would be horrendous. Kim would probably use his massive artillery installments against the South (these alone can level Seoul). He might use nuclear weapons against the South or against Japan. In any case, he would cause such significant damage to America’s allies (and to American troops in the South and in Japan) as to make the whole endeavor extremely costly, even if we did succeed in conquering the country.
I really don’t know what Ferguson is smoking, but I have a feeling I could make a fortune selling it.