Holding Government Accountable on National Security

When mistakes are made, people endure the consequences. This seems to be true for everyone but U.S. senior leadership and national security officials. On February 10 at 12:00pm (PT) / 3:00pm (ET), CPD hosted Michael Mazarr for a discussion on keeping the government accountable. Moderating this conversation is Caitlin Byrne, CPD Faculty Fellow and Director of the Griffith Asia Institute.

The issue of war and peace, and decisions made to undertake a war, are among the most profound decisions that confront any democracy. When those decisions are made poorly—with insufficient information, deliberation, or planning—they can produce tragedy. Yet there is still no clear way to hold senior officials accountable for the decisions they make about war and peace.

Michael Mazarr spent over a decade researching the decision to go to war in Iraq, including interviews with over 100 key participants, for his book Leap of Faith. Based on that case study he has suggested consideration of a “doctrine of policy negligence” for choices of war and peace—a demand that senior officials meet certain criteria for the quality and rigor of their decision process.

About Michael J. Mazarr

Michael Mazarr is a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation. Previously he worked at the U.S. National War College, where he was professor and associate dean of academics; as president of the Henry L. Stimson Center; senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies; senior defense aide on Capitol Hill; and as a special assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. His primary interests are U.S. defense policy and force structure, East Asian security, nuclear weapons and deterrence, and judgment and decision making under uncertainty. Mazarr holds a Ph.D. in public policy from the University of Maryland.

About Caitlin Byrne

Caitlin Byrne is Director of the Griffith Asia Institute and a CPD Faculty Fellow and Fellow of the Australian Institute for International Affairs (AIIA). Caitlin's research is focused on Australian diplomacy with a special interest in Australia's engagement in the Asia-Pacific region. Most recent research projects explore the role of leadership, soft power and public diplomacy-including people-to-people connections developed through international education, culture and sport-in developing Australia's regional influence, relationships and reputation. Caitlin brings expertise in executive education and currently delivers training on Soft Power & Public Diplomacy, and International Policy & Tradecraft through Australia's Diplomatic Academy in Canberra. She consults on occasion to government in the areas of strategic foreign policy and diplomatic practice. Prior to joining academia, Caitlin had established a professional career spanning strategic management, legal, foreign and social policy roles in government, business and community sectors.Caitlin’s research project for the Center is titled 'Public Diplomacy and the United Nations Security Council: Securing a Seat at the Top Table'.


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