The turn of events Friday night in Benghazi, Libya, is an example of the consequences of overreaching. The militia of a religious extremist group, which appeared more than any other group to have supported the deadly raid on the U.S. consulate last week, was forced to flee the city as protesters took over their facilities. The protesters then turned the facilities and weapons over to the government.
Members of the extremist group may have thought they had enough popular backing to conduct the raid on the U.S. diplomats, but instead some of them are under arrest and the militia group has permanently lost its base of operations in Benghazi.
Overreaching often goes along with this pattern of bravado and collapse. It is a pattern that makes the world more chaotic. When warnings are overlooked, the collapse and its aftermath can come a surprise. If you keep talking for more than a few minutes after the low battery warning, the phone may cut off, and then, all of a sudden, the conversation is over.