In this talk, Lisle examines the institutionalisation of productive failure in the US Army at the end of the Cold War and its roll out in the 'laboratory’ of the Haitian Intervention in 1994. Lisle is interested in how the US Army consolidated a ‘freedom to fail’ approach as it restructured its forces in the 1980s and 1990s. Learning from the corporate world at the beginning of Neoliberalism, the Army transformed itself into a ‘Learning Organization’ by synthesising recuperative and anticipatory failure analysis. Looking specifically at the establishment of the ‘Centre for Army Lessons Learned’ (CALL), this chapter examines how past failures were made safe by turning them into productive lessons (e.g. through AARs), and how future failures were avoided by experimental learning in simulated environments (e.g. speculation, war gaming). As ‘freedom to fail’ was consolidated into productive failure in the early 1990s, it was deployed in one of the US Army’s first ‘humanitarian' interventions in Haiti in 1994. Lisle is interested in how productive failure became integral to the post-Cold War humanitarian machine as it was mobilising in the early 1990s. Here, universal norms of ‘helping’ and ‘learning’ fused in a way that inoculated the US Army from critique by effacing the colonial logics of power at work in this intervention. To contest this formation and trace its effects, Lisle turns to the modes of endurance and practices of care that Haitians - the most abject of all -  were cultivating in the backwash of productive failure. What kinds of subjectivities, relations and life-worlds were built in the ‘wastelands of failure’?

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