Americans love a winner, and its foreign policy leaders are no exception. As a new team takes the reins of government, officials in the National Security Council, State and Defense Departments, and beyond are scanning the landscape for victories: quick wins, big wins, historic wins.
Not all problems can actually be solved—and many of today’s foremost foreign policy challenges fall squarely into that category.
Devising solutions to national security problems might seem all to the good. The problem is that not all problems can actually be solved—and many of today’s foremost foreign policy challenges fall squarely into that category. Policymakers often consider it better to “get caught trying” (as the previous Democratic secretary of state put it) than risk the costs of inaction. But trying to fix the insoluble can often make things worse.
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