Stephen Kotkin

Stephen Kotkin, a Yale professor of history, is author of Magnetic Mountain : Stalinism as a Civilization.

Recent Articles

Mission Unlimited

The Mission: Waging War and Keeping the Peace with America's Military By Dana Priest, W. W. Norton & Company, 384 pages, $26.95 A principal deficiency of the argument against the Iraq War was that the war's opponents, like the first Bush administration, would have left a brutal tyranny in power. Who wanted to side with Saddam Hussein? A crucial shortcoming of the pro-war argument was that the United States was unprepared to handle the challenges of a war's aftermath. Why topple a contained dictator only to create further misery and instability, followed by the reassertion of malevolent institutions, personnel and habits? This striking phenomenon of an America eager and able to unseat shameful regimes (some, former clients) but unwilling and perhaps unable to build replacement democracies was showcased in Afghanistan, for anyone interested. But the catch-22 remains largely overlooked. As long as the domestic costs are so slight and the duties are shouldered by so narrow a...