George Packer looks at what Obama and the generals are reading:
Richard Perle once told me that no one in Washington reads books. Not true, apparently, and it’s good to know that important ones are being read around the Obama Administration. But this competition between reading lists worries me. Back in 1993, Bill Clinton, having campaigned on the need for America to intervene in the Bosnian war, got hold of Robert Kaplan’s book “Balkan Ghosts” shortly after taking office and concluded that this was an ancient ethnic blood-feud and no one could do anything about it. That was bad history, and it led to bad policy: Clinton allowed the genocide to go on for over two more years. Books in the hands of Presidents are not necessarily helpful. (According to Karl Rove, George W. Bush read ninety-five books in 2006, the year the Iraq war was nearly lost.)
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