Hostname: page-component-5db6c4db9b-mcx2m Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2023-03-25T04:38:24.784Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "useRatesEcommerce": false } hasContentIssue true

Security Scholars for a Sensible Foreign Policy: A Study in Weberian Activism

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 February 2007

Patrick Thaddeus Jackson
American University, Washington, DC, e-mail ptjack@
Stuart J. Kaufman
University of Delaware, e-mail


It has always been true that foreign policy debates tend to proceed on a weak evidentiary base, with clever quips or stirring oratory regularly trumping sound analysis. According to Thucydides, for example, the Athenian assembly that endorsed the Sicilian expedition during the second Peloponnesian War had only the haziest conception of the adversaries' capabilities. Contemporary politics is distinctive not in the sloganeering quality of political discourse, but in the divergence between the quality of information available to society as a whole and the quality of information used in making decisions. For example, it was clear to any open-minded observer by the time of the Congressional vote in 2002 that implications of collaboration between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda lacked any basis in reliable evidence. By the time the Bush Administration initiated war in 2003, claims about Iraq's nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons capabilities were also partially debunked and increasingly dubious. Still, the war went forward, and many Americans continued to believe the Bush Administration's false claims even after the Administration itself had abandoned them.Patrick Thaddeus Jackson is Associate Professor of International Relations in the School of International Service at the American University in Washington, DC (ptjack@ Stuart J. Kaufman is Professor of Political Science and International Relations at the University of Delaware ( For helpful comments and feedback on this article, we would like to thank Monica Duffy Toft, Neta Crawford, Daniel Nexon, and three anonymous reviewers.

© 2007 American Political Science Association

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Arreguin-Toft, Ivan. 2002. Tunnel at the end of the light: A critique of U.S. counter-terrorist grand strategy. Cambridge Review of International Affairs 15 (3): 54963.Google Scholar
Arreguin-Toft, Ivan, and Monica Duffy Toft. 2004. “‘Peace with Honor’ in Iraq.” Boston Globe, October 25.
Bloom, Mia. Forthcoming. Dying to Kill: The Allure of Suicide Terrorism. New York: Columbia University Press.
Breiner, Peter. 2004. Distance and engagement in a time of war: Comments on ‘Social Science and Liberal Values’. Perspectives on Politics 2 (3): 48588.Google Scholar
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. 2004. “WMD in Iraq: Evidence and Implications,” January.
Cordesman, Anthony H. 2004. “The Critical Role of Iraqi Military, Security, and Police Forces: Necessity, Problems, and Progress.” October 7. Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Edelman, Murray. 1971. Politics as Symbolic Action: Mass Arousal and Quiescence. New York: Academic Press.
Edelstein, David M. 2004. Occupational hazards: Why military occupations succeed or fail. International Security 29 (1): 4991.Google Scholar
Fallows, James. 2004a. “Blind Into Baghdad.” Atlantic, January/February.
Fallows, James. 2004b. “Bush's Lost Year.” Atlantic, October
Galbraith, Peter W. 2004. “Iraq: The Bungled Transition.” New York Review of Books, September 23.
Haggard, Stephen. 2004. “American foreign policy; Time for a change in course.” San Diego Union-Tribune, October 29.
Hook, Steven W. 2004. “The misconduct of U.S. foreign policy,” Akron Beacon Journal (Ohio), October 18.
Isaac, Jeffrey C. 2004. Social science and liberal values in a time of war. Perspectives on Politics 2 (3): 47583.Google Scholar
Jehl, Douglas. 2004. “US Intelligence Shows Pessimism On Iraq's Future.” New York Times, September 16, A1.
Kaufman, Stuart. 2001. Modern Hatreds: The Symbolic Politics of Ethnic War. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Kaufmann, Chaim. 2004. Threat inflation and the failure of the marketplace of ideas: The selling of the Iraq war. International Security 29 (2): 548.Google Scholar
Keohane, Robert. 2004. Column. News and Observer (Raleigh-Durham, NC), October 20.
Krebs, Ronald R., and Patrick Thaddeus Jackson. Forthcoming. Twisting tongues and twisting arms: The power of political rhetoric. European Journal of International Relations.
Mandaville, Peter. 2004. “U.S. leadership is on the brink.” Roanoke Times, October 26.
Marcus, George E., W. Russell Neuman, and Michael MacKuen. 2000. Affective Intelligence and Political Judgement. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
National Commission on Terrorist Attacks. 2004. The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.
Pape, Robert A. 2003a. “Dying to Kill Us.” New York Times, September 22, A17.
Pape, Robert A. 2003b. The strategic logic of suicide terrorism. American Political Science Review 97 (3): 34361.Google Scholar
Rapoport, David. 2001. The fourth wave: September 11 in the history of terrorism. Current History, December.
Ringer, Fritz. 2004. Max Weber: An Intellectual Biography. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
[Scheuer, Michael.] 2004. Imperial Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror. Originally authored by Anonymous. Washington, DC: Brassey's.
Security Scholars for a Sensible Foreign Policy. 2004a. “About Us.” Accessed November 1; no longer available.
Security Scholars for a Sensible Foreign Policy. 2004b. “An Open Letter to the American People.” Accessed November 1; available at
Shea, Christopher. 2004. “Critical faculties, resting on their laureates.” Boston Globe, October 24.
Snyder, Jack. 2003. “Imperial Temptations.” The National Interest, Spring.
Thucydides. 1951. The Peloponnesian War, trans. Richard Crawley. New York: Random House.
Weber, Max. 1999. “Die ‘Objektivität’ Sozialwissenschaftlicher und Sozialpolitischer Erkenntnis.” In Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Wissenschaftslehre, ed. Elizabeth Flitner. Potsdam: Internet-Ausgabe,
Weber, Max. 2004. The Vocation Lectures. Indianapolis: Hackett.
Wright, Robin, and Thomas E. Rick. 2004. “Bremmer Criticizes Troop Levels.” Washington Post, October 5.
Supplementary material: PDF

Open Letter List

Signatories of the Security Scholars for a Sensible Foreign Policy
Open Letter to the American People, October 2004

Download Open Letter List(PDF)
PDF 124 KB