Expert Recommends What Client Wanted

Policy expert recommends driving off cliff!

I may have more to say about Pete Singer‘s excellent piece on Washington think tanks later but this passage is worth special mention:

Rory Stewart, director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy and a member of Richard Holbrooke’s special committee for Afghanistan and Pakistan policy (a different advisory group from McChrystal’s), described, in a Financial Times interview, the perils of selecting advisers for reasons other than to get their advice:

“I do a lot of work with policymakers, but how much effect am I having? It’s like they’re coming in and saying to you, ‘I’m going to drive my car off a cliff. Should I or should I not wear a seatbelt?’ And you say, ‘I don’t think you should drive your car off the cliff.’ And they say, ‘No, no, that bit’s already been decided—the question is whether to wear a seatbelt.’ And you say, ‘Well, you might as well wear a seatbelt.’ And then they say, ‘We’ve consulted with policy expert Rory Stewart and he says . . . .’ “

This is otherwise known as the McChrystal Effect.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.