Column: Policy makers don't prepare for contingencies destined to fail

“Humans are great at self-delusion,” the polymath philosopher Nassim Nicholas Taleb has observed. I’m confident he’d agree that the humans who populate the foreign policy community are no exception.

Two years ago this month, Osama bin Laden was killed on President Barack Obama’s orders — a very good thing. Before long, however, sophisticated analysts were declaring that this was not just a battle won — it was a war ended.

If bin Laden was dead, they asserted, rigor mortis also must have set in at al-Qaida. Nor could any serious threat continue to be posed by the supremacist, totalitarian ideology that al-Qaida was created to advance — not to mention the closely related ideology that Iran’s rulers champion.


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