f_0018623_15949 - Thinking the Future by James Jay Carafano...

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The Whitehead Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations Thinking the Future by James Jay Carafano A merica’s problem in a nutshell is that we do not think very well. The last quarter century has seen an explosion in the human capacity to create and manipulate new knowledge. Despite that fact, the instruments used to inform public policy choices are as creaky as ever. Washington makes policy largely by intuition shaped by an orthodox adherence to tired interpretations of international relations and public choice theory—ideas that have barely evolved since the Cold War. Our minds are behind the times. All this needs to change if America wants to out-think its enemies and help its friends in the world secure a safe, free, and prosperous future. The answer to the problem is creating institutions and a professional ethos that exploit multidisciplinary public policy analysis using cutting-edge information instruments. At the same time, Washington must make room for a certain amount of creative destruction. Institutions, no matter how facile, will never keep up with knowledge innovation. Room has to be made to allow new ideas and methods to reach decision makers, and we need a generation of leaders with minds facile and agile enough to “learn new tricks.” Developing a capacity to identify and exploit new means of analysis for informing public policymaking could be the key competitive advantage of the twenty-first century. Knowing what is out there and what is coming is an important part of “thinking the future.” Equally vital will be establishing the permanent capacity to change how we discover, innovate, and adapt new ways of knowledge creation to the task of sound decision making. E vERyTHING O ld Is N EW A GAIN Thinking anew is an old project. Periods of Western history are defined by efforts to reconceptualize our understanding of the links between cause and effect and to use that knowledge to make decisions. The Renaissance is remembered as the age of recovering the innovations of Greco-Roman thought and applying them to contemporary thought. The scientific revolution of the early modern era introduced experimentation as the foundational method for establishing empirical knowledge. JameS J. Carafano is a leading expert in defense and homeland security at The Herritage Foundation. He is also a former professor at the US Military Academy at West Point, NY, and a visting professor at the National Defense University and Georgetown University. 27 WaShington muSt make room for a certain amount of creatiVe DeStruction.
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CARAFANO The Whitehead Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations From the later part of the eighteenth century, the Age of Enlightenment expanded scientific methods to virtually every field from medicine to military matters, arguing for replacing traditional means of gaining knowledge with new “rationale” processes. The Industrial Age ushered in an era when managers, accountants, and engineers
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This note was uploaded on 02/01/2012 for the course POLS 351 taught by Professor Shaw during the Fall '08 term at Boise State.

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f_0018623_15949 - Thinking the Future by James Jay Carafano...

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