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Why American exceptionalism survives its own failures.


Even though we have very sharp disagreements about a lot of issues, most notably domestic issues - taxes, abortion, gun rights - when we talk about foreign policy issues we lose sight of how much unstated but very strong consensus there is. And that underlies attitudes about trying to apply American power to situations overseas.

Foreign policy analyst and CIA veteran Paul Pillar explains how the isolated geography and short history of the United States forged the concept of American exceptionalism, and why the US political class's embrace of that myth both limits debate on policy and favors ideology over reported intelligence, decade after decade, from Vietnam to Iraq to the next disaster.

Paul is author of Why America Misunderstands the World: National Experience and Roots of Misperception from Columbia University Press.

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Paul Pillar

Paul Pillar is a researcher at the Center for Security Studies of Georgetown University, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.


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