On Shifting Ground

While the wars in Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq were not total losses, rash hopes, intelligence failures and grandiose designs certainly lead to blunders and avoidable failures. As President Obama turns his attention increasingly towards the war in Afghanistan, how can his administration avoid some of the same counterproductive patterns that have plagued US foreign policy decisions in times of war? A professor of foreign policy at Georgetown University, Derek Leebaert argues that the cause of many of America’s foreign policy mistakes lies in “magical thinking” – the idea that the US can manage the world through well-intentioned force. From the belief that we can accomplish anything out of sheer righteousness to the conviction that American-style management will fix any global problem to overconfidence in miracle technology, whether drones over Pakistan or helicopters in Vietnam, Leebaert believes that unless our leaders confront these notions we are destined to repeat the strategic mistakes of the past.

Direct download: 09-16-10_Derek_Leebaert.mp3
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