American Enterprise Institute’s Kori Schake to talk legacy, missteps of modern American war

Kori Schake

Last year, in an essay for The Economist, Kori Schake considered the state of affairs 20 years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq. That invasion, she wrote, and “the mismanagement of what followed significantly diminished American power, making our security and prosperity more difficult and costly to sustain.”

To Schake, who served as director for defense strategy on the National Security Council in President George W. Bush’s administration, these “were mistakes of historic proportions,” she wrote. But, it wasn’t the United States’ first “significant foreign-policy debacle, nor the first time the United States has been a flawed beacon of its values.”

Schake has spent her career working in government and think tanks; currently, she is a senior fellow and the director of foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, where her research areas include national security strategy, NATO, and alliances and U.S.-led international order.

She’ll open the Chautauqua Lecture Series theme of “What We We Got Wrong: Learning from Our Mistakes” at 10:45 a.m. today in the Amphitheater to examine the contemporary legacy of American warfare — from Vietnam through Afghanistan to the current day — asking what mistakes policy-makers have learned from (and those they haven’t not) and how this can inform American military strategy in a new era of diplomacy and defense. 

“In many ways, the failures of the Iraq war mirror some of those of the Vietnam war, and have already had significant repercussions in domestic debates and international attitudes,” she wrote for The Economist. “But, just like Vietnam, they have not meant, and they do not mean, an end to America’s global dominance.”

Schake last spoke from the Amp stage in 2022, during a week asking “What Should be America’s Role in the World?” More recently, she was the guest expert for a Chautauqua Travels program for the 80th Anniversary of D-Day in early June, leading a group of Chautauquans to France for the commemoration.

Before joining AEI, she was the deputy director-general of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London. Schake is the author of five books, including America vs the West: Can the Liberal World Order Be Preserved? and State of Disrepair: Fixing the Culture and Practices of the State Department.

In 2022, with a focus on what role America should have in international affairs, Schake argued that the United States is, and should, “be a force for democratizing the international order.” But the work to maintain that force across the world, she said, starts in America itself.

“It falls to all of us, all of the time, to mobilize ourselves as (a) civic society, to hold our government accountable, to sustain and uphold democracy in our own country, and to advance it where possible in the world,” Schake told Chautauqua in 2022. “The absolute best way to protect and advance democracy in the world is to protect and advance democracy in the United States.”

Tags : America vs the West: Can the Liberal World Order Be Preserved?american enterprise institutegovernmentKori Schakemorning lecture previewsn President George W. BushNational Security CouncilNATOState of Disrepair: Fixing the Culture and Practices of the State DepartmentThe EconomistWhat We We Got Wrong: Learning from Our Mistakes

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