Adam Garfinkle

Americans and the World: “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Why Americans Can’t See ‘Others’ at All: Case in Point, the Middle East

Dr. Adam Garfinkle, American Interest Magazine
March 19, 2017 (Sun)

From the earliest days, we Americans have had a special way of looking at the world derived from Anglo-Protestant religious traditions and the ideas of the Enlightenment.  We are optimistic, and believe that we have found the best way of organizing society, one that is based on constitutional democracy, market capitalism, individual autonomy and civil liberties.  To the extent that other societies do not embrace these values, we tend to see them as inferior, suffering from a kind of disease that prevents them from adopting practices that will open the way to a better future. When Americans’ world view is projected onto other societies, especially non-Western ones, the result is almost always serious misunderstanding and confusion. Policies flowing from these misconceptions rarely succeed except by accident or extreme exertion. By examining U.S. Policy toward the Middle East, especially in the period since the end of the Cold War, Adam Garfinkle will illustrate the tragic consequences of America’s problems of perception.

Adam M. Garfinkle is the founding editor of The American Interest, a bimonthly public policy magazine. Francis Fukuyama, Eliot Cohen, Zbigniew Brzezinski, were among the magazine’s founding leadership. He was previously editor of The National Interest. He was a speechwriter for both of President George W. Bush’s Secretaries of State, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice. Early in his career, Garfinkle worked at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. He taught American foreign policy and Middle East politics at the University of Pennsylvania and The Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, Drexel University, Widener College, Haverford College, and Tel Aviv University. He served on the staff of the National Security Study Group of the US Commission on National Security/21st Century (the Hart-Rudman Commission), as an aide to General Alexander M. Haig, Jr., and an assistant to Senator Henry M. Jackson. As of 2009, he was a member of the project “Middle East at Harvard” (MESH). Garfinkle has a B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in International Relations from the University of Pennsylvania.

Supported by New Mexico Humanities Council and Sandia National Labs