John Mearsheimer is the Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago and one of the leading foreign policy scholars in America. Here’s what he has to say to you.
Countries’ governments sometimes pursue foolish foreign policies with disastrous consequences. Liberal democracies are not immune from this danger. I came of age during the Vietnam war, which was one of the greatest strategic blunders in American history. Since then, the United States has made further blunders, the Iraq war being the most prominent. And now there is the Ukraine conflict, which threatens to escalate into a nuclear war.
There is no guaranteed way to avoid foreign policy errors. But the best way to minimize the chances of getting into serious trouble is to debate these issues openly, so that critics of the conventional wisdom of government policy can have their say. Media institutions are hugely important in fostering this kind of debate, which is why freedom of the press is so protected in the United States. It allows critics to make their views known to large numbers of people and it provides legitimacy. Critics of existing policy are not always right, but sometimes they speak truth to power and help us avoid or correct big mistakes.
Unfortunately, the mainstream media in the United States have become much less effective since the Cold War ended. Dissenters have trouble getting a platform in prominent media outlets, and mainstream media outlets often seem to speak with one voice on the big foreign policy issues of the day. This situation is not healthy.
Antiwar.com plays an important role in filling this dangerous void in our public discourse. It provides a platform for critics to challenge the reigning views of the foreign policy establishment, which is essential for increasing the likelihood that the United States will pursue wiser policies. For that reason, I urge readers to generously support Antiwar.com. In these troubled times, a flourishing Antiwar.com is very much in the U.S. national interest.