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Will America Ever Learn from the Mistakes of its ‘Forever Wars’?
11th May 2022 • Trending Globally: Politics and Policy • Trending Globally: Politics & Policy
00:00:00 00:23:20

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Last August, the United States pulled out of Afghanistan, ending its longest-ever military engagement. For a moment, it seemed like the US might be entering a period defined more by its domestic agenda than its international entanglements. 

But then, of course, Russia invaded Ukraine. The US is getting more involved by the day in this new conflict, and Americans are once again debating what role their military should play in the world. 

One central question hovering over this debate: as we try to support Ukraine and its people, can we avoid making the same mistakes we made when intervening in Afghanistan and Iraq? 

Watson Senior Fellow Richard Boucher thinks it’s possible. But first, we need to make sure we’re learning the right lessons. And doing that requires looking back even further in our history than Afghanistan. As Richard explains, understanding how the “Vietnam generation” ended up leading the charge into Afghanistan and Iraq has a lot to teach us about the lessons we should take from past conflicts, and why it can be so difficult to learn them the first time around. 

From 2006 until 2009, Richard Boucher served as the Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, where he played a leading role in defining American strategy and diplomacy in Afghanistan. Before that he was the longest-serving Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs in American history. You can find more of his analysis and insights on his blog

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Transcript coming soon.