Leslie Gelb Urges Foreign Policy Think Tanks to be More Pragmatic
Leslie H. Gelb, a former New York Times columnist and senior government official, is author of "Power Rules: How Common Sense Can Rescue American Foreign Policy" (HarperCollins 2009), a book that shows how to think about and use power in the 21st century. He is president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Question: What role should think tanks play in foreign policy?
Leslie Gelb: Policy is figuring out what problems you can solve and how, and what problems you cannot solve, and then what you do about them. And that's what the people at the think tanks ought to be doing. And it ought to be very practical and it ought to be in the national interest. That doesn't mean there's just one national interest and they've all got to agree, but it's got to be reasonably done. It can't be politicized and ideologized. It's got to make sense.
And it's that quality of common sense that, I think, we've lost in a lot of the think tank work. And it got to be based on, ultimately, a realistic notion of power because that, still, how you get things done in the world.
Recorded on 5/1/09.
The author discusses realpolitik and common sense.
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