Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts Comte’s Caveat: How We Misunderstand Terrorism

Comte’s Caveat: How We Misunderstand Terrorism


Since the end of the Cold War, and particularly since September 11, 2001, the U.S. Government has substantially misunderstood its circumstances and has launched policies based on a compound error that has made those circumstances worse. The error consists of three parts: thinking the United States had more usable power after the Cold War when it had less; misreading the sources of apocalyptical terrorism; and failing to correct its misreading because of a bias set deep in its own political culture. Seeing the situation and the problems as they really are would lead to vast changes in both foreign and homeland security policies.

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