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Epiphanies: Francis Fukuyama

IT WAS AN [AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE] dinner that really clinched it for me. [It] was February 2004 and everybody in the room was just deliriously self-congratulatory when it was pretty clear that things were going disastrously wrong [in Iraq]. THE MOST MISUNDERSTOOD THING [about my idea, the "end of history"] was the word ‘history.’ People ...

IT WAS AN [AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE] dinner that really clinched it for me. [It] was February 2004 and everybody in the room was just deliriously self-congratulatory when it was pretty clear that things were going disastrously wrong [in Iraq].

THE MOST MISUNDERSTOOD THING [about my idea, the "end of history"] was the word ‘history.’ People thought I was saying that nothing was going to happen after the Cold War.

WHAT WE’VE DEVELOPED in this country is a class of professional worriers.

PEOPLE WHO HAVEN’T WORKED in the government sometimes don’t appreciate its bureaucratic tribalism — the degree to which loyalty to your particular team tends to override changing your mind in light of new evidence.

I ENDED UP DECIDING I’D VOTE FOR OBAMA by process of elimination. I just don’t think the Republicans deserve to get reelected, even with McCain. If you have a big policy failure, you shouldn’t get rewarded for it. And I really don’t like Hillary Clinton, so that left Obama.

IT’S IMPORTANT FOR PRESIDENTS to have someone who can come up to them and say, ‘You know, Mr. President, you’re really full of sh*t.’

THE LEADER I MOST ADMIRE in the 20th century is Deng Xiaoping, who was able to totally change the Chinese economic system because he understood that communism didn’t work. What he did was throw aside ideological presuppositions. I worry that Americans are not prepared to think in those terms about their own policies and institutions.

MOST OF THE OTHER THINGS it would be fun to do would require talent that I don’t have.

Francis Fukuyama is Bernard L. Schwartz professor of international political economy at Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies.

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