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Presidential Issues: International Relations

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If You Want Good Leaders, Make Sure They’re Good Thinkers

December 3, 2015

By James Jay Carafano

Here’s a thought. Perhaps part of the reason the world seems to have gone haywire for America is that our nation’s leaders don’t think as well as they used to—that all our great thinking is behind us. The best prescription for fixing that may lie in how we prepare generals, diplomats and policymakers to lead.

Even during the Cold War, America’s best and brightest weren’t always at their most cool-headed. Remember the Bay of Pigs? Not the smartest move ever. Lyndon Johnson’s war? That didn’t go so well. There is a long list of other tragic misjudgments, dictator coddling and dirty tricks.

On the other hand, from George Kennan’s strategic vision in the Long Telegram to Ronald Reagan tying Moscow in knots, there were certainly bright spots. On balance, America didn’t make out so bad. The U.S. ended the Cold War stronger than when it started. The world was richer. There were more democracies.

Now Americans look back at the promise of a world that seems far out of our reach today.

Not that the downturn of the last several seasons cannot be blamed just on bad reasoning from Washington. A great deal of creative disruption has been unleashed on the world during this time, from the rise of Silicon Valley to the unleashing of the Arab Spring. And, of course, the enemy gets a vote, no matter how carefully we plan our moves.

Read the full article at the Heritage Foundation: If You Want Good Leaders, Make Sure They're Good Thinkers