In this powerful nation with founding principles and latent capacities second to none, politics have become fit for the fall of Rome, the culture is sick with self-destruction, and the rule of law is routinely perverted. Though politics, culture and law are the arch of the nation, the keystone without which they cannot hold is defense. For war transforms whole peoples and threatens their sovereignty and national existence more decisively than any other force.

You would hardly know this from the current presidential campaign. Most candidates seem unaware that the prospects of catastrophic war in the not-so-distant future are burgeoning because of a fundamental change in the international system, driven by accelerating adjustments in relative military power.

Russia, China and Iran have been racing ahead, stimulated by a disintegrating Europe that neither spends sufficiently on its defense nor defends its borders; and by an America, strategically blind in the Middle East, that failed to replenish and keep current its military under President George W. Bush, and now surrenders, apologizes, bluffs, “leads from behind,” and denigrates its military capacities and morale as President Obama either embraces enemies or opposes them only with exquisite delicacy.

As the U.S. allows its nuclear forces to stagnate and decay into de facto unilateral disarmament, Russia has been modernizing its own. The Kremlin has added systems, such as road-mobile, intercontinental ballistic missiles with independently targetable re-entry warheads, that we neither have nor envision. In the absence of “soft-power” parity with the U.S., Russia dangerously relies on a permissive nuclear doctrine and promiscuously rattles its atomic sabers. Its nuclear adventurism, naval and land force modernization, unopposed reintroduction into the Middle East, invasion and annexation in Ukraine, and the ability to recapture the Baltic states in an afternoon, are yet another impeachment of “the end of history.”