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The Realist Prism: Short-Term Thinking Leaves Western Hemisphere Ignored

Friday, Jan. 15, 2010

In a WPR blog post earlier this week, Judah Grunstein described the "Yemen frenzy" induced by the failed Christmas Day airliner bombing plot as a post-9/11, "Pavlovian response." But there's more to the conditioned behavior than just the push for a massive, whole-of-government intervention in a country linked to an attempted domestic terrorist attack, and in which al-Qaida has a presence. A second factor at play is the tendency of the U.S. government -- and indeed, of the entire political establishment -- to dart from crisis to crisis, pouring time, treasure and resources into responding to the headlines of the day.

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, alluded to this when he spoke last Friday at the Naval War College. He got an appreciative laugh from students and faculty when, paraphrasing Jon Stewart, he said, "Americans do their geography by looking at where we've most recently almost been attacked from." ...

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