Perhaps the most indelible public spat between a U.S. diplomat and the U.S. military remains that between U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Madeleine Albright and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Colin Powell. Their argument might seem odd today, but at the time Albright, the diplomat, was arguing for the need to deploy U.S. armed forces in support of humanitarian intervention in the Balkans. Powell, the soldier, was adamant that U.S. armed forces should not be used for such contingencies. Powell summed up his views on the proper use of U.S. armed forces in an article for the journal Foreign Affairs entitled “U.S. Forces: Challenges Ahead.” Subsequently known as the “Powell Doctrine,” the article highlighted a U.S. foreign policy dilemma which has never been resolved: if standing idly by is intolerable, as Albright insisted, is intervening with armed force something that will generally advance or hurt U.S. interests? Can military intervention succeed, and if so, how limited might the circumstances be?

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Monica Toft in Texas National Security Review — Making Academic Work Relevant to Policymakers

As the international community faces tremendous change and upheaval, and the United States undergoes shifts in its foreign and domestic policies under the Trump administration, there is a critical need for sound and relevant advice on issues of national security. A key question is, what, if anything, do national security academics have to offer policymakers? The answer is, “quite a bit.” However, academics need to understand that what policymakers need is often quite different than what academics pursue and produce. The good news is that there does seem to be movement within the academy to analyze and write in ways, and on topics, that policymakers will find useful. Moreover, engaging with policymakers will only help to make academic research more relevant and interesting.

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Monica Toft in The National Interest — Why is America Addicted to Foreign Interventions?

At a time when the United States is preparing to increase Pentagon spending and escalate troop deployments overseas, an analysis of U.S. military interventions since the country’s founding highlights two important and related dynamics.

First, the empirical distribution of military interventions––that is, the deployment of U.S. armed forces to other countries––is not evenly distributed; and in fact is highly skewed, in terms of frequency, to favor the historical period following the end of the Cold War (1991).

Second, U.S. military interventions since WWII have only rarely achieved their intended political objectives. That is, the United States has lost more than won; and when it has “won,” it has generally won at a cost far in excess of what would have been considered reasonable prior to the intervention.

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Monica Toft in The National Interest — On Rationalizing U.S. Foreign Policy: No More ‘Whack-a-Mole’

There has been excessive reliance on military force and interventions abroad to spread U.S. values rather than an effort to protect the country’s national security.

This is a goal which will demand patience of a historically impatient people, compromise from a nation with deeply religious and uncompromising roots, teamwork and alliance burden-sharing from a nation convinced of its unmatched power and its ability to lead in all circumstances, and a dedicated mix of resources, emphasizing economic, diplomatic, scientific, artistic and social. This is a goal that will require reserving the use of military force for protecting truly vital national interests, and as a last, not first, resort.

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Monica Toft Gives a Big Think Interview

How do you end a civil war? In the movies, all you really need is for Daniel Day Lewis as Abe Lincoln to make a great speech (or Iron Man and Captain America to shake hands, depending on your definition of “civil war” in movies). But in real life, things are much more complex than that. You might need a third party that is prepared to stay there for generations. You may need to prepare for a whole new government. And this doesn’t even begin to address how to operate after a civil war. Two opposing sides must learn how to deal with each other and not enact revenge. It’s a complicated situation, so should America stay out of the conflicts and stop playing the “policeman of the world”? History argues that letting the rebels win at their own pace often solves much of the problem, says Monica Duffy Toft, whose work at the Center for Strategic Studies is made possible through funding from the Charles Koch Foundation.

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Fletcher’s Center for Strategic Studies Kicks off Its Inaugural Research Seminar With a Full House

It was standing-room only last Monday evening as Fletcher students, fellows, faculty, and staff gathered at the new Center for Strategic Studies (CSS) for the Center’s inaugural research seminar and open house.

The first seminar was given by new Fletcher Professor of International Politics, and CSS Director, Monica Duffy Toft on the topic “Positive Change in U.S. Foreign Policy?” The talk, which had students on the edge of their seats and hanging over the stair-rail, was a succinct, informative look at the current state of the United States’ foreign policy. Professor Toft made the argument that, while for decades this country has had a clear-cut, common foreign policy goal, our goals since the end of the Cold War have been negative, fragmented, and reactionary – “essentially an international game of whack-a-mole,” she said.

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The Fletcher School Launches New Center for Strategic Studies Led by Professor Monica Duffy Toft Grant from Charles Koch Foundation will expand Fletcher’s research capabilities and cultivate next generation of foreign policy scholars

The Fletcher School is pleased to announce the opening of the new Center for Strategic Studies (CSS), with the support of $3 million over six years from the Charles Koch Foundation. It will be led by renowned foreign policy expert, Professor Monica Duffy Toft.

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