Sadly, the AI, which is a simple soul, is very limited in its strategic and tactical ability. I've seen the AI do many retarded things, such as suicide itself on starbases, attempt to build a starbase in a well with large amounts of enemy ships and no ships of its own, fail to retreat capital ships that are being focus-fired upon, etc. Basically, when you play against the AI, your opponent is severely mentally handicapped.
The good news is that if you want better opponents that are capable of strategic and tactical thought, you can log onto Ironclad Online and try it against human players. You can really only do this on the Diplomacy expansion since that's where the action is. Also, note that games against actual people normally don't last longer than 1.5 hours. Starting now and for the next 7 hours or so, they'll probably be a couple 4v4 and 5v5 games. You're going to discover that humans are much tougher opponents (because they aren't retarded and suicidal like the AI) but that the games are also much more interesting, intense, suspenseful, and satisfying. Once you get up to speed you might never want to play against the AI again. PvP team games also introduce new elements of team strategy to the game.