3 September 2021 — Moon of Alabama
The U.S. foreign policy ‘establishment’ is incredibly dumb:
With Afghan Retreat, Biden Bucks Foreign Policy Elite, New York Times, Sep. 1 2021
“The foreign policy establishment did get it wrong in Iraq, where the U.S. overreached,” said Richard N. Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations. “We got it wrong in Libya, we got it wrong in Vietnam. But over the last 75 years, the foreign policy establishment has gotten most things right.”
What did the foreign policy ‘establishment’ get right? Funny that he does not name even one issue in that category. That’s likely because there isn’t one.
“My biggest concern is that the United States may now be entering an era of under-reach,” said Mr. Haass, who served in the George W. Bush administration. “History suggests there’s just as much risk in under-reaching as overreaching.”
Under-reaching = Not waging and losing illegal wars of aggression? What please is the risk with that?
Here is the real problem:
Micah Zenko @MicahZenko – 0:38 UTC · Sep 3, 2021
Foreign policy establishment generally doesn’t do self-reflection. Leadership and funders don’t require it, the focus is inherently future-oriented, and the predictive analysis so unfalsifiable that evaluation is impossible.
This goes beyond the establishment:
Organization theorists note that organizations are poor self-evaluators; I argue here that states suffer the same syndrome.
This failure to self-evaluate impedes national learning and allows misperceptions to flourish. Myths, false propaganda, and anachronistic beliefs persist in the absence of strong evaluative institutions to test ideas against logic and evidence, weeding out those that fail. As a result national learning is slow and forgetting is quick. The external environment is perceived only dimly, through a fog of myths and misperceptions.
States that misperceive their environment in this way are bound to fail to adapt to it, even when the penalties of such failure are high. Blind to the incentives they face they will respond inappropriately, even if they accept in principle the need to adapt.
This also why the U.S. is, again and again, listens to the same ever stupid people.
Micah Zenko @MicahZenko – 15:44 UTC · Aug 21, 2021
Sad how many habitually wrong and unapologetic pundits, scholars, and former officials are solicited for their foreign policy wisdom.
Not only is their zero accountability, but stubborn wrong-ness is consistently rewarded by media gatekeepers, think tanks, private sector, etc.
Every implausible US intervention or disastrous war has featured powerful cheerleading from public intellectuals and experts….often the same 3-4 dozen people.
Last point, since US has such an outsized influence on global outcomes, debates around specific FP choices cannot continue to be driven by the same habitually wrong voices. World needs better.