Learning From Our Defeat: The Assumptions of Donald Rumsfeld

One hopes for statesmen chastened by defeat. In this world of our hopes, the authors of catastrophe would discuss their mistakes with the humility, introspection, and sense of disgrace these mistakes deserve. Decisions that led to deathโ€”death in its thousands and hundreds of thousandsโ€”would be examined with probing honesty. The decision makers behind them would be seized with a fierce guilt and urgency. They would quest to understand the nature of their errors. They would incessantly press upon us the lessons of experience, gripped with fear that the next generation might repeat their calamities.

One can imagine such a statesman, chastened by defeat. Douglas Feith is not he.

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Against the Kennan Sweepstakes

Image source  Last month there was a minor hullabaloo about the latest entry in the “Kennan Sweepstakes,” a long document published by the Atlantic Council titled “The Longer Telegram.”1 I read it three times.   I did not like it.  This week Foreign Policy gave me some column space to explain why. I will note here […]

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The Framers and the Framed: Notes On the Slate Star Codex Controversy

Let’s talk about the grand Slate Star Codex brouhaha. A lot of people have already written about this. Here is the original New York Times piece that started the controversy. [1] Against the Grey Lady we have Cathy Young, Robby Soave, Micah Meadowcroft, Matthew Yglesias, Freddie DeBoer, Scott Aaronson, Noah Smith, and Dan Drezner, as […]

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Assessing the Trump China Strategy: The Key Documents

Now is the proper time for the broader foreign policy community to step back and assess the successes and failures of Trump era diplomacy. There have already been a few attempts of this sort for Trump’s China policy, but I find myself disappointed, if not entirely surprised, with how vapid and partisan these assessments tend […]

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China’s Attack on Australia is About America

Image source The escalating crisis in Sino-Australian relations prompts a new piece.  Foreign Policy publishes my latest under the title “Biden’s First Foreign Policy Crisis is Already Here.” I approve of the title. Not everything is about America, and I often spend my time trying to show how the moving force behind any given international […]

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Do Not Choose Susan Rice

Image source There is a grand tradition in American politics of bashing the other side’s nominees. In the spirit of that tradition, I have a new piece out in the American Conservative that questions whether Susan Rice is fit to be the Biden administrationโ€™s nominee for Secretary of State. Rice is a controversial figure for […]

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On Sparks Before the Prairie Fire

Photo by Katelynn & Jordan Hewlett (15 August 2020). Source. It inevitably will be asked why advanced industrial America has so violent a history, but this is not, I think, either as difficult or as interesting as another question: How could America have combined such a substantial degree of popular domestic violence with such a high […]

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Yes, We Are in an Ideological Competition With China

The Lowy Institute has a published an interactive debate titled “China and the Rules-Based Order.” I participated in the debate and wrote two small essays as a part of it. All participants were asked to describe the nature of Sino-American competition, Chinese intentions for the future of the “world order” and any possibilities for a […]

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On Diplomats-in-Chief

Here is a question that has fascinates: how to account for the disastrous foreign policy of George W. Bush, when his foreign policy team returned to office in 2001 as the most credentialed and accomplished group of foreign policy professionals Washington had seen in the modern nat-sec era? How did the men and women who […]

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