Things can go wrong very fast, even and perhaps especially for an over-reaching great power. Like the German planners of 1914, today's Washington strategists are obsessed with challenges, timetables, windows of opportunity—and the eschatological urge to tear down a frustrating international order and remake it in their image. They, too, have exaggerated the threats and underestimated the risks. That is as far as the analogy goes—Imperial Germany and Republican America have little else in common. But hubris is not a shortcoming peculiar to any one constitutional form; and the inability to envisage nemesis is modern America's distinctive failing.
--Tony Judt in the current New York Review of Books