Insanity Defense: Why Our Failure to Confront Hard National Security Problems Makes Us Less Safe
Insanity can be defined as doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result. As a nation, America has cycled through the same defense and intelligence issues since the end of the Cold War. In Insanity Defense, Congresswoman Jane Harman chronicles how four administrations have failed to confront some of the toughest national security policy issues and suggests achievable fixes that can move us toward a safer future.
The reasons for these inadequacies are varied and complex, in some cases going back generations. American leaders didn’t realize soon enough that the institutions and habits formed during the Cold War were no longer effective in an increasingly multi-power world transformed by digital technology and riven by ethno-sectarian conflict. Nations freed from the fear of the Soviets no longer deferred to America as before. Yet the United States settled into a comfortable, at times arrogant, position as the lone superpower. At the same time our governing institutions, which had stayed resilient, however imperfectly, through multiple crises, began their own unraveling.
Congresswoman Harman was there—as witness, legislator, exhorter, enabler, dissident and, eventually, outside advisor and commentator. Insanity Defense is an insider’s account of decades of American national security—of its failures and omissions—and a roadmap to making significant progress on solving these perennially difficult issues.
About the Author
Jane Harman, Distinguished Fellow and President Emerita, Wilson Center, is an internationally recognized authority on U.S. and global security issues, foreign relations and lawmaking. A native of Los Angeles and a public-school graduate, she went on to become a nine-term member of Congress, serving decades on the major security committees in the House of Representatives. Drawing upon a career that has included service as President Carter’s Secretary of the Cabinet and hundreds of diplomatic missions to foreign countries, Harman holds posts on nearly a dozen governmental and non-governmental advisory boards and commissions.Read More