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National Insecurity by David Rothkopf

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8. The Place Where Good Intentions Go to Die

I will show you fear in a handful of dust.

—T. S. ELIOT

Paradoxically, the use of force—the bluntest of diplomatic instruments—requires the most delicate hand. As America’s experience in the Middle East since 2001 shows, bitter consequences result from using too much force, or too little, or applying it in the wrong way against the wrong target. With great power at its disposal, a nation can easily be deluded into thinking it necessarily has the ability to exert great influence. These lessons are so clear after the past decade that all it takes is the shorthand of country names to illustrate these points: Iraq is now a synonym for the misapplication of American power; Syria, for America’s hesitancy ...

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