January 14th, 2014
11:15 AM ET

What I'm reading: Has U.S. fogotten how to conclude wars?

By Fareed Zakaria

“Confusing capability with utility, the United States knows how to start wars but has seemingly forgotten how to conclude them,” writes Andrew Bacevich in the Los Angeles Times. "Yet concluding war on favorable terms – a concept formerly known as victory – is the object of the exercise. For the United States, victory has become a lost art. This unhappy verdict applies whether U.S. forces operate conventionally (employing high-tech 'shock and awe' tactics) or unconventionally ('winning hearts and minds')."


“Although neuroscience can’t be divorced from culture, history, and geography, there is no Orientalism of the brain: The fundamental biology of social motivations is the same in Tokyo, Tehran, and Tennessee,” write Nicholas Wright and Karim Sadjadpour in The Atlantic. “It anticipates, for instance, how the mind’s natural instinct to reject perceived unfairness can impede similarly innate desires for accommodation, and how fairness can lead to tragedy. It tells us that genuinely conciliatory gestures are more likely and natural than many believe, and how to make our own conciliatory gestures more effective.”

“Distilled to their essence, nations are led by and comprised of humans, and the success of social animals like humans rests on our ability to control the balance between cooperation and self-interest. The following four lessons from neuroscience may help us understand the obstacles that were surmounted to reach an interim nuclear deal with Iran, and the enormous challenges that still must be overcome in order to reach a comprehensive agreement.”

soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. The GOP Solution

    The GOP Solution: Turn all the Old, Sick, Poor, Non-white, Non-christian, Female, and Gay people into slaves. Then whip them until they are Young, Healthy, Rich, White, Christian, Male, and Straight. Or until they are dead. Then turn them into Soylent Green to feed the military during the next "unfunded/off-the-books" war. And don't forget the GOP all time favorite..........TAX CUTS FOR THE RICH!!!!

    January 14, 2014 at 4:37 pm |
    • Dean

      Who pays taxes other than, as you call them, the rich?

      January 14, 2014 at 5:15 pm |
      • TDM

        Um...the middle class that the GOP is trying to destroy? Get a clue.

        January 14, 2014 at 8:45 pm |
  2. Dean

    We have never won a conflict in which we did not try to conquer the entire population.....N Korea, Viet Nam and the middle east wars. You cannot fight in a foreign country against part of the population. You have to conquer the entire country......or realize that you will have to have forces there forever.

    January 14, 2014 at 5:13 pm |
  3. Jerry Falwell

    What this country sorely needs to do is to forget how to start all these cursed wars in the first place! Unfortunately, this will not happen at any time in the near future since the self serving, money grubbing, right-wing politicians in Washington are using these wars as a means to to pocket enormous sums of money plus enhance their chances of being elected over and over again by exploiting the ignorance of the average American!

    January 14, 2014 at 5:14 pm |
    • ✠RZ✠

      Mr. Falwell, I'm sure there are many who would not only disagree with you, but then some who would say "Ya, and what's wrong with that?!?" Well, obviously it's wrong... VERY WRONG. And although it is more complex than what you describe, the fact that the most powerful people and governments in the world cannot or will not push more strongly towards peaceful solutions basically proves their resulting actions to be an outright scam (certainly from a mathematical perspective). There are millions of Americans who can at least enjoy their continued employment as defence contractors. Though the part that really irks me is that their wealth has not necessarily come through the spoils of war and the gaining of conquered lands, but rather of debt and death of their own countrymen. Perhaps all this warring is merely a smoke screen to the real battle. The fight by those to exceed at making others slave away only to bankrupt or kill themselves.

      January 14, 2014 at 10:33 pm |
  4. chrissy

    @ Dean are you serious?? Lmao thats hillarious! The "rich" as you call em hide their money in offshore accounts for one thing. And have so many damn loopholes that most pay less then their hired help! Give me a break!

    January 14, 2014 at 11:21 pm |
  5. chrissy

    Amen @ RZ! Although i do agree with Mr Falwell also. And the warmongering clowns in Congress have their heads so far you know where, they couldnt see daylight if someone piped it in! We really need to fire the whole bunch of them and start over come election time!

    January 14, 2014 at 11:54 pm |
  6. chrissy

    Wow! Some extremely disturbing things surfacing about actions involving our military! Im deeply troubled by what i read involving Marines in Iraq!

    January 15, 2014 at 8:32 pm |
  7. icansee4miles

    Russia and Iran are playing a masterful game of weakening the U.S.' influence and power globally, while China looks on approvingly. Take a good look at Iran's creation of the Shia Crescent; Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Iran. Look at the populations of the oil fields of the Arabian Gulf; Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar; significant populations of Shia Muslims.

    The primary tenet of the Shia is not to recognize any sovereign authority except that of the Shia religion. The Head of the Shia is the Grand Ayatollah in Iran; his word is law for the Shia in all of these countries, disseminated from his lips through the local Mullahs to their followers. And don't forget the Shia spreading their subversive tenets in South America, to Mexico and the borders of the U.S.A.

    Once it gets its nuke, Iran will hold a knife to the throat of the Arabian Gulf's oil producing countries. Further, with suicidal drivers (remember the Shia truck bomb that killed 242 Marines in Lebanon during Reagan's term) driving nukes in trucks over the Mexican border to the heart of American cities, Iran will be an existential threat to United States-and Russia's hands will be "clean".

    The Bahrain Protocol, Amazon Kindle's new thriller spells out the truth in a gripping novel about the U.S.' withdrawal from the world stage; and if the U.S. won't protect the world, Israel will-with a surprising new partner, Saudi Arabia.

    January 17, 2014 at 5:52 am |

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