Regarding Joe Scarborough’s Nov. 25 op-ed “A role model for Joe Biden”:

No, the incoming Biden administration doesn’t want to replicate the Truman years, certainly in foreign policy. President Harry S. Truman and his well-publicized advisers were winging it from start to finish: bluffed by the British into the so-called Truman Doctrine of containing the Soviet Union; getting contradictory guidance about Moscow from diplomat George Kennan, who began years of loopy CIA paramilitary exploits; being pulled reluctantly into NATO by European friends; then failing at the Korean War, which importantly rescued South Korea, at a price of 5,394 American dead, yet was followed by a reckless invasion of North Korea, causing 28,345 more. 

The lesson for President-elect Joe Biden is to proceed calmly, don’t try to fine-tune the planet with regime changes, and remember that Washington rarely does strategy, as failed wars in Iraq and Afghanistan also indicate. What passes for considered policy is instead a twisting sequence of ad hoc decisions hammered out under the stresses of sudden foreign urgencies and heavily politicized responses. Why would it be otherwise? 

Derek Leebaert, Washington