Harvey Mansfield
Political Theorist; Author; Professor, Harvard

The War in Iraq

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Americans, Harvey Mansfield says, are impatient and should give the war effort more time to succeed.

Harvey Mansfield

Harvey C. Mansfield, William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of Government, studies and teaches political philosophy. He has written on Edmund Burke and the nature of political parties, on Machiavelli and the invention of indirect government, in defense of a defensible liberalism and in favor of a Constitutional American political science. He has also written on the discovery and development of the theory of executive power, and has translated three books of Machiavelli’s and (with the aid of his wife) Tocqueville's Democracy in America. His book on manliness has just been published. He was Chairman of the Government Department from 1973-1977, has held Guggenheim and NEH Fellowships, and has been a Fellow at the National Humanities Center. He won the Joseph R. Levenson award for his teaching at Harvard, received the Sidney Hook Memorial award from the National Association of Scholars, and in 2004 accepted a National Humanities Medal from the President.  He has hardly left Harvard since his first arrival in 1949, and has been on the faculty since 1962.


Question: How would you assess the war on terror?

Harvey Mansfield: The war on terror is not going well in Iraq. Or at least, we are impatient with it as a Democratic people. One thing Tocqueville said, “Americans are impatient.” And so it’s not going well enough to satisfy us. We like solutions, and therefore we like quick results. And we haven’t gotten that in Iraq. So the question is whether we’re going to be able to see ahead far enough to get up the courage – or maybe it’s just the endurance – to stick with it. I don’t know whether we’re going to try to cut and run. I don’t think that’s a bad description.

Recorded on: 6/13/07