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How America's Iraq Obsession Left Us Vulnerable
James M. Goldgeier is a professor of Political Science and International Affairs at George Washington University. He received his B.A. in government from Harvard and his M.A. and Ph.D. in political science from the University of California at Berkeley.
He is the author of Leadership Style and Soviet Foreign Policy (John Hopkins, 1994), which received the Edgar Furniss book award in national and international security, and Not Whether But When: The U.S. Decision to Enlarge NATO (Brookings, 1999). Dr. Goldgeier co-authored (with Michael McFaul) Power and Purpose: U.S. Policy toward Russia after the Cold War (Brookings, 2003), which received the 2004 Lepgold Prize for the best book on international relations. His most recent book (co-authored with Derek Chollet) is America Between the Wars: From 11/9 to 9/11, published in June 2008 by Public Affairs. Dr. Goldgeier is also a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Topic: How America’s Iraq Obsession Left Her Vulnerable
James Goldgeier: I do believe that Iraq has been an obsession of the United States now for almost 20 years. And one of the things we try to do in the book is show that Iraq is not a post-2003 problem; it's been there since Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in August of 1990. And you had George H. W. Bush reversing that invasion with a coalition under the authorization of the United Nations. Hugely successful Gulf War. He had 90 percent approval rating, which then evaporates as the campaign goes on because people, you know, aren't that appreciative once the whole thing is over. He did not decide to send American troops to Baghdad to topple Saddam Hussein, so Saddam remains in power. And the Clinton administration, for eight years, tries to figure out what to do with that regime. There is an international sanctions regime to prevent Saddam Hussein from building weapons of mass destruction. The United States is patrolling no-fly zones in the north and south to protect populations in Iraq from the regime in Baghdad. When we spoke to Madeleine Albright, who was the UN Ambassador in the first Clinton term, she said her whole time as UN Ambassador was spent dealing with resolution after resolution on Iraq because the resolutions that ended the Persian Gulf War were constantly coming up for renewal and she had to keep the coalition together. And so there was this huge amount of attention paid to Iraq through the period Bill Clinton told George W. Bush that he regretted not being able to do something about Saddam Hussein and of course George W. Bush is going to hand off the Iraq problem to his successor. It will be the third Iraq hand-off. While Iraq's an important country in an important region, it has distorted American foreign policy. There are lots of other big problems out there. During this past 20 years we've seen the rise of China, for example, in general the rise of Asia. And we're really under-equipped as a nation to think about these problems. Strategically we haven't thought through these problems. And these are the kinds of things. The rise of Asia, climate change, these are the things that are going to dominate our world in the coming decades and we've been distracted by our entanglement in Iraq.
Recorded on: 07/0820/08
James Goldgeier explains that a 20-year-old obsession has blinded us to other geopolitical changes.
- Modern antibiotics can effectively treat bubonic plague, which spreads mainly by fleas.
Bacteria under microscope
needpix.com<p>Today, bubonic plague can be treated effectively with antibiotics.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Unlike in the 14th century, we now have an understanding of how this disease is transmitted," Dr. Shanthi Kappagoda, an infectious disease physician at Stanford Health Care, told <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">Healthline</a>. "We know how to prevent it — avoid handling sick or dead animals in areas where there is transmission. We are also able to treat patients who are infected with effective antibiotics, and can give antibiotics to people who may have been exposed to the bacteria [and] prevent them [from] getting sick."</p>
This plague patient is displaying a swollen, ruptured inguinal lymph node, or buboe.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention<p>Still, hundreds of people develop bubonic plague every year. In the U.S., a handful of cases occur annually, particularly in New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/plague/faq/index.html" target="_blank">where habitats allow the bacteria to spread more easily among wild rodent populations</a>. But these cases are very rare, mainly because you need to be in close contact with rodents in order to get infected. And though plague can spread from human to human, this <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">only occurs with pneumonic plague</a>, and transmission is also rare.</p>
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The word "learning" opens up space for more people, places, and ideas.
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