December 01, 2014

The Uses and Abuses of Historical Analogies

Source: The American Conservative

Journalist: Daniel Larison

Richard Fontaine and Vance Serchuk consider the different historical examples that policymakers and politicians cite in their foreign policy arguments:

In their choice of historical analogy, politicians and policymakers often reveal more about their foreign policy worldview than do conventional partisan or ideological labels.

That’s true as far as it goes. What tells us even more about a person’s foreign policy assumptions is how often he falls back on historical analogies and how varied those analogies are. For instance, when a neoconservative or hawk invokes 1938 in response to every single crisis or major event overseas, that mostly tells us that he probably has a very superficial grasp on the particulars of current events.

Read the full blog post at The American Conservative.


  • Richard Fontaine

    Chief Executive Officer

    Richard Fontaine is the Chief Executive Officer of CNAS. He served as President of CNAS from 2012–19 and as Senior Fellow from 2009–12. Prior to CNAS, he was foreign policy ad...

  • Vance Serchuk

    Strategy and Statecraft

    Vance Serchuk is an adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security. Since August 2013, he has been executive director of the KKR Global Institute, based in ...