“A GREAT deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep,” the novelist Saul Bellow once wrote. We should keep that in mind when we consider the lessons from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — lessons of supreme importance as we plan the military of the future.

Our record of learning from previous experience is poor; one reason is that we apply history simplistically, or ignore it altogether, as a result of wishful thinking that makes the future appear easier and fundamentally different from the past. (more…)

Against this reality, all the criticism of President Obama concerning his minimalist approach toward the region seems misplaced… the president’s instincts on the politics of the region are largely correct. When people are engaged in high-stakes struggles over basic questions of identity, citizenship and nationalism, it is up to them and their leaders to discover a formula that will make their societies successful. (more…)