Friday, April 4, 2014

Profound ignorance

Our misjudgments of friend and for alike reflected our profound ignorance of the history, culture, and politics of the people in the area, and the personalities and habits of their leader. We might have made similar misjudgments regarding the Soviets during our frequent confrontations -- over Berlin, Cuba, the Middle East, for example, had we not had the advice of Tommy Thompson, Chip Bohlen and George Kennan. These senior diplomats has spent decades studying the Soviet Union, its people and leaders, why they behaved as they did, and how they would react to our actions. Their advice proved invaluable in shaping our judgments and decisions. No Southeast Asia counterparts existed for senior officials to consult when making decisions on Vietnam.
--Robert McNamara, cited in J. Robert Moskin, American Statecraft: The Story of the U.S. Foreign Service (2013) p. 623

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