George W. Bush and the Historian's Craft

[updated below]

Daniel Larison has a new post addressing a comment made by former President George W. Bush about how future historians will come to view his legacy. According to the former commander-in-chief, “I won’t be around, because it will take a while for the objective historians to show up.” Larison correctly notes that the historical profession has never been a fully objective enterprise. For instance, in That Noble Dream, his excellent study of the American historical profession and the role objectivity played in its development, Peter Novick traces the way “objective” history became a professional norm among historians . . .
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Save Cato: Preserving a Voice in the Wilderness

[DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in this post are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of any other contributor to this site]

I have been hesitant to use this space to weigh in on the ongoing dispute between Charles and David Koch and the Cato Institute.  My friend and co-blogger, Hans-Inge Lango, came up with the idea for this blog shortly after we met as interns in defense and foreign policy studies at Cato.  I have always wanted to maintain this space as a means to offer analysis and commentary on American foreign and . . .
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What an Irrelevant Speech says about Republican Foreign Policy

Now that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has reaffirmed that he will not seek the Republican nomination for president in 2012 his recent speech at the Reagan Library on American exceptionalism—which, last week, had pushed the fervor for Christie to enter the race to ever-higher levels—may seem irrelevant now.  But there was an important foreign policy element to his speech that has caused some disagreement, and may get to the heart of the forces that will shape American foreign policy in the next Republican administration—whenever that may come to be.

In the speech, when discussing foreign policy, Christie said,

. . .
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Letting the Military be the Military

During George W. Bush’s tenure in the Oval Office, there was plenty of ink spilled about the accelerated militarization of American foreign policy.  Of course, Bush didn’t start this trend—see Dan Priest’s series, from 2000, on America’s “proconsuls” in the form of the military’s various combatant commands for just one example.  And, based on his escalation of the war in Afghanistan, initiation of a war in Libya, and the likely interruption in ending in the war in Iraq, even President Obama’s supposed disdain for hard power seems unlikely to change this trend any time in the near future.

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Making Sense of the 2011 National Military Strategy

This is a guest contribution from Mr. Z.  Mr. Z is the pseudonym for a career strategist at the Department of Defense and an active duty 06.

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When the 2011 National Military Strategy (NMS) (pdf) was released in February it received very little attention and fanfare outside the small cadre of military officer and defense analysts anticipating its arrival. While it is a document the vast majority of Americans have never heard of, much less read, it plays an important role in shaping the broad strategy of the US military. Given its rather radical effort to . . .
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Fighting the short war in Afghanistan

Michael Hastings, the Rolling Stone reporter who brought down General Stanley McChrystal, is back on the Afghan beat. In the magazine’s latest issue Hastings has turned his attention to McChrystal’s successor, General David Petraeus. While touted as a profile of the commander, the article serves more as a profile of current U.S. policy on Afghanistan (needless to say, Petraeus declined to comment on the story).

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Hastings’ newest article lacks the wow-factor of the McChrystal profile, but paints a convincing portrait of the Obama administration’s thinking on the war in Afghanistan. At the center of the story . . .
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