Lessons learned tend to be hortatory in nature. CNN’s Fareed
Zakaria informs us that the Iraq War offers five lessons, including “bring
enough troops,” while participants in a recent think tank “lessons
learned” event on Ukraine conclude that “the West … ought to be
more proactive and united.” Even the most appalling tragedies offer
opportunities to grow in wisdom: After examining past U.S. failures in the
Balkans, Iraq, and Afghanistan, a June 2014 Stimson Center report on
“Lessons Learned for Stabilization in Syria” concludes that
“understanding underlying conflict dynamics is essential.”
It’s hard to quarrel with such insights. Who would defend
the value of willful ignorance, or champion the cause of not bringing enough
troops to a war?
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