Time to rethink foreign policy? (MIT News)

In a new book just profiled by MIT News, political scientist Barry Posen makes the case for a more limited U.S. military strategy.

The ongoing turmoil in Iraq has prompted calls for a renewal of U.S. military action in that country, as well as criticism from those who want to avoid further military commitment there.

Among the dissenters: Barry Posen, an MIT political scientist who has become an increasingly vocal critic of what he sees as excessive hawkishness in U.S. foreign policy.

Posen believes that U.S. long-term strategy relies too heavily on a bipartisan commitment to military activism in order to pursue the goal of spreading liberal democracy — what he calls the “liberal hegemony project” that dominates Washington.

After years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan without lasting stability to show for it, Posen says, it is time to use U.S. military power more judiciously, with a narrower range of goals.

Liberal hegemony “has performed poorly in securing the United States over the last two decades, and given ongoing changes in the world it will perform less and less well,” Posen writes in a new book, “Restraint: A New Foundation for U.S. Grand Strategy,” published this month by Cornell University Press. “The strategy has been costly, wasteful, and counterproductive.”

OCW has just published a course by Professor Posen on this topic. 17.478 Great Power Military Intervention “examines systematically, and comparatively, great and middle power military interventions, and candidate military interventions, into civil wars from the 1990s to the present,” and features an extensive reading list.

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