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A Sampling of Jumbo Opinion
Victory in Afghanistan?This summer, President Obama “announced the withdrawal of 33,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan.” Does that mean the United States won the war there? “If Afghanistan becomes a stable state with democratic governance, it will transform the region—and represent a strategic victory for the United States. If Afghanistan remains plagued by extremists and an ineffective, corrupt government, then we shall have lost. If the Taliban return to power, we shall have suffered a strategic defeat. It is as simple as that.

“However Afghanistan develops, the decision to withdraw marks a strategic shift. Hopefully, we are not watching a rerun of Charlie Wilson’s War, the movie about U.S. aid to the Afghan mujahedin fighting the Soviets, in which failing to win now leads to more intervention later. Moments of historical change often begin not with a bang but with a whimper, to paraphrase T.S. Eliot.”

—William C. Martel, associate professor of international security studies, the Fletcher School, in the Providence Journal

crazy like a fox“Aristotle was the first to point out the link between madness and genius, including not just poets and artists but also political leaders. I would argue that the Inverse Law of Sanity also applies to more ordinary endeavors. In business, for instance, the sanest of CEOs may be just right during prosperous times, allowing the past to predict the future. But during a period of change, a different kind of leader—quirky, odd, even mentally ill—is more likely to see business opportunities that others cannot imagine.”

There will always be periods during which “traditional approaches begin to fail,” and when that happens, such leaders are invaluable. “When the past no longer guides the future, they invent a new future. When old questions are unanswerable and new questions unrecognized, they create new solutions. They are realistic enough to see painful truths, and when calamity occurs, they can lift up the rest of us. Their weakness is the secret of their strength.”

—Nassir Ghaemi, professor of psychiatry, Tufts School of Medicine,
in the
Wall Street Journal

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