Why didn’t intelligence experts anticipate the sudden collapse of the Soviet Union and sudden end of the Cold War? Why did 9/11 catch the sole superpower seemingly so completely off-guard? Despite repeated warnings by experts, why didn’t officials plan adequately either for Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath or for the political instability and insurgency that followed the U.S. invasion of Iraq? What are we to make of these striking failures to anticipate and to act? Are they indicative of a lack of political will, technological capacity, or moral imagination? From the perspective of some future moment, how will our actions in the face of present challenges be evaluated?
In Francis Fukuyama’s edited volume Blindside: How to Anticipate Forcing Events and Wild Cards in Global Politics, a group of leading policy analysts, journalists, and scholars contend with these immensely vexing questions. Sponsored by The American Interest magazine, this collection of essays grapples with how to assess our repeated failure both to predict and to prepare for “low-probability, high-impact scenarios.”