Tyranny of Consensus: Discourse and Dissent in American National Security Policy

Tyranny of Consensus: Discourse and Dissent in American National Security Policy

by Janne E. Nolan

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Why does the most highly advanced industrial country, commanding unparalleled access to vast sources of global intelligence and information, seem to so often miscalculate the realities and risks of its foreign interventions?

In Tyranny of Consensus, Janne E. Nolan examines three cases—the Islamic Revolution in Iran, the proxy war with the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, and the 1998 embassy bombings in East Africa—to find the limitations of American policy-makers in understanding some of the important developments around the world. Assisted by a working group of senior practitioners and policy experts, Nolan finds that it is often the impulse to protect the already arrived at policy consensus that is to blame for failure. Without access to informed discourse or a functioning “marketplace of ideas,” policy-makers can find themselves unable or unwilling to seriously consider possible correctives even to obviously flawed strategies.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780870785351
Publisher: The Century Foundation, Inc.
Publication date: 06/07/2013
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 132
File size: 572 KB

About the Author

Janne E. Nolan is a member of the international affairs faculty at George Washington University and a senior fellow at the Association for Diplomatic Studies. She has held numerous senior positions in the private sector, including as professor of international affairs and deputy director of the Ridgway Center at the University of Pittsburgh, project director and research faculty at the Georgetown School of Foreign Service, director of foreign policy for The Century Foundation, senior fellow in foreign policy studies at the Brookings Institution, and senior international security consultant at Science Applications International Corporation.
Her public service includes positions as a technology trade and arms control specialist in the Department of State, as senior representative to the Senate Armed Services Committee, and as the defense adviser to several presidential campaigns and transition teams. She served as an appointed member the White House Presidential Advisory Board on U.S. Arms and Technology Policy (chair), the National Defense Panel, the State Department’s Accountability Review Board (investigating terror attacks against U.S. embassies in East Africa), the Gates Panel to Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat to the U.S., and the Secretary of Defense’s Policy Board.
She is the author of seven books, including Guardians of the Arsenal: The Politics of Nuclear Strategy (Basic Books, 1990), Trappings of Power: Ballistic Missiles in the Third World (Brookings, 1991), and An Elusive Consensus: Nuclear Weapons and American Security after the Cold War (Brookings, 1999), and is editor (with Bernard I. Finel and Brian D. Finlay) of Ultimate Security: Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction (The Century Foundation Press, 2003). She has received major research awards from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the John T. and Catherine D. MacArthur Foundation (five-time recipient), the Ford Foundation, and the Ploughshares Foundation, and serves on the board of the American Middle East Institute, the Arms Control Association, the Monterey Institute’s Non Proliferation Review, the Hewlett Foundation, and the Center for Climate and Security. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences Committee on International Security (second appointed term), the Aspen Strategy Group (Distinguished Emeritus), and the Cosmos Club.

Table of Contents

Foreword Janice Nittoli v

Acknowledgments ix

1 Introduction 1

2 Intelligence Failure or Policy Stalemate: The Case of Iran 17

3 The United States and Soviet Proxy War in Afghanistan, 1989 to 1992 41

4 The Terrorist Bombings of U.S. Embassies in East Africa 63

5 Findings and Recommendations 95

Appendix: Working Group Participants 119

Notes 123

About the Author 131

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Tyranny of Consensus: Discourse and Dissent in American National Security Policy 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent and original, essential reading for policy-makers/anyone interested in the governance of American security policy.