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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Woulda Coulda Shoulda School of Foreign Policy Analysis

http://lobelog.com/the-woulda-coulda-shoulda-school-of-foreign-policy-analysis/#more-35447

The Woulda Coulda Shoulda School of Foreign Policy Analysis

by Paul R. Pillar
A recurring feature in criticism of President Obama’s foreign policy, particularly in referring to strife-torn Syria and Iraq, is the notion that if only the United States had followed some different course, bad things in such overseas places would not be happening. The dominant variant of such criticism asserts that if only the United States had somehow used more military force in those lands, then somehow the strife there would be less than it is. This variant gets repeated so often that it is already acquiring the status of conventional wisdom. Even the usually sensible Nicholas Kristof, for example, in a recent column writes that “allowing [sic] Syria’s civil war and suffering to drag on unchallenged” has been Mr. Obama’s “worst mistake.”
Kristof acknowledges that “we don’t know whether the more assertive approaches favored by Hillary Clinton, Gen. David Petraeus and many others would have been more effective”—an admission that should vacate the judgment he had just made about a presidential mistake. After all, how can we assess whether any given course of action is a mistake if we do not weigh it against the available alternatives? What we are seeing here is a difference between policy-makers who have to come up with real policy that works, and critics who don’t have to come up with anything but criticism. http://lobelog.com/the-woulda-coulda-shoulda-school-of-foreign-policy-analysis/#more-35447

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