Reviews

A former economic and political officer at the U.S. embassies in Tashkent and Warsaw, the author of this important article shows how the officials who make and implement U.S. foreign policy, subject to a rapid turnover of staff, have a short time horizon that gives little value to foreign policy learning. B. Grodsky notably insists on the fact that non-stakeholders usually do not show particularly incentive to attribute to U.S. policy the liberalisation of authoritarian regimes. Because they have little investment in the processes, these officials also have little interest in studying them ― the result being “an analytical void where institutional learning is inconclusive and practically irrelevant (45),” which further reduces the likelihood of long-term policy learning. B. Grodsky also casts light on the impact of the February 2006 State Department restructuring that split the post-Soviet world into units henceforth deprived of regular mutual communications: a symptom of the now prevailing vision according to which “the time for drawing lessons applicable to the whole post-communist world has ended (55).” For policymakers, these findings suggest a need to reconsider incentive structures in order to encourage long-term policy adaptations ― including career rewards for innovative policy research and recommendations. The article also sheds light on the disconnect ― by far not specific to the USA ― between policymakers and academics, B. Grodsky suggesting that public organisations and centres would benefit from a deliberate strategy by academics to demonstrate that their theoretical knowledge does have clear practical value.

The Redaction
CER: II-7.1-564