Two Major Developments
With the health care bill, the Ft. Hood shootings and the interminable dithering over Afghanistan (victory is a choice Mr. President) two major developments in the war of the Enlightenment vs. its discontents have gone almost unremarked. Both have to do with the U.S. losing its ability intervene in major war theaters.
One, Iran has taken a giant leap forward towards becoming a regional hegemon and boxing the U.S. out of the Middle East with a major advance in weaponizing its nuclear program. It has been developing an advanced "implosion trigger" for its nuclear weapons.
This is bad news. It means that as soon as Iran successfully tests a bomb (if they even test one, remember the first time we detonated a uranium gun-barrel type bomb was over Hiroshima, so reliable was the design) they will immediately be able to mate the weapon to one of their Shahab missiles, capable of reaching Israel. If Iran develops a solid-fueled rocket as well, they'll have a potential thermonuclear launch-on-warning capability just like the five members of the Security Council.
Second, the "credibility dominoes" are continuing to fall. Because of U.S. weakness vis a vis Iraq, Afghanistan, Poland, the Czech Republic, Honduras and Israel - Taiwan has now concluded that it cannot depend on the U.S. as a credible deterrent to Chinese aggression.
In the latest edition of its biennial military review, the Taiwan Ministry of Defense released a metaphorical bombshell. It noted that with China’s continuing and unrelenting military buildup, “it can now deter foreign militaries from assisting Taiwan.” This, of course, is a euphemism for deterring the United States. Since the U.S. deployed an aircraft carrier in the Taiwan Strait a decade ago when conditions heated on both sides of the divide, China has vowed to thwart any American military assistance for Taiwan. And if the report is accurate, that moment may have arrived.
Because of this perception, the Taiwanese will be forced to adopt a more conciliatory policy toward the Chinese, and Chinese influence will grow in Asia at the expense of the U.S.
Both of these situations are bad news for the U.S. At this moment, America's security strategy rests on the bedrock assumption that it can shape the international environment to better enhance our own security. Because we are the only global power, with the capability to project force into any region of the world, we force the players in those theaters to react to our moves - rather than we reacting to theirs. Both these developments alter that balance. And the more it is demonstrated that our actions will be reactive to the regional hegemons, the more pressure is applied to regional actors to accommodate those regional hegemons, thus further weakening our position, and constraining us to be even more reactive than proactive.
This is what a "forward strategy of apology" gets you.