October 3: Foreign Affairs Editor on How Wars End

Gideon Rose, editor of Foreign Affairs magazine, discussed “Why We Botch the Ends of Wars” at the October 3 meeting of the Washington History Seminar.

Rose argued that a persistent theme in American history is a failure to plan carefully for the aftermath of wars. Obsessed with the military aspects of their struggles, neither military nor civilian leaders pay close attention to political issues until the shooting is about to stop, making the achievement of a durable peace dramatically harder.  In his view, Libya, like Iraq, is less the exception than the rule.

Rose was named editor of Foreign Affairs, published by the Council on Foreign Relations, in October 2010. He holds a PhD in government from Harvard and has taught the history of American foreign policy at Princeton and Columbia. His 2010 book, How Wars End: Why We Always Fight the Last Battle, looks at the choices faced by policy makers from World War I, “the war to end all wars,” through the conflict in Iraq, which continues years after the declaration of “Mission Accomplished.”  Critics have called How Wars End subtle and elegant, of value to soldiers as well as presidents and their advisors.

A webcast of Rose’s presentation is available at Why We Botch the Ends of Wars.

The Washington History Seminar is co-sponsored by the National History Center and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, with assistance from the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations. To be added to the e-mail list for announcements of upcoming sessions, please contact NHC Associate Director Marian J. Barber at mbarber@historians.org.