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The Realist Prism: Changing Our Nation-Building Role Models

Friday, July 2, 2010

Invariably, when Americans engage in nation-building exercises around the world, it is hoped that the indigenous leaders that emerge will be cast in the mold of our Founding Fathers. We are looking for the George Washingtons, Thomas Jeffersons, and James Madisons to take the helm in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. Inevitably, we are disappointed when the Hamid Karzais, the Nouri al-Malikis and others fail to live up to these often-idealized expectations.

Maybe it would help if we substituted a different set of historical names and role models. If we can't get a Washington in Afghanistan, we'd certainly do well to settle for a local version of Plutarco Elias Calles, crossed with a bit of Anton Cermak. ...

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