Sunday, June 14, 2009

World events

Hi, I am in charge of US foreign policy. Just a few thoughts:

I cannot control world events. No matter how brilliant my analysis, no matter how strong my army, I cannot mandate, cajole, bully, co-opt, or command enemies or allies of the United States to behave as I would like. Countries have long, complex and independent agendas. We are one player in a living, breathing matrix of values, history, culture, power and ideology. My goal is to diminish the risk of war, to build new alliances. to be a respectful member of the international community. We are a major player, but we are not all powerful, or all knowing. I know this is not what you want to hear. But you need to hear it. Thank you.


  1. An understanding of the limits of one's power is key to diminishing the risk of war as is being a respectful member of international community. Where I think it gets tricky is what to do, if anything, in the face of complicated moral quagmires let loose in the world where others on the world stage do not adhere to the same guidelines. If I had the power to stop genocide, should I? I think its complicated but I suspect that at the real danger points of foreign policy there is a moral equation that cannot be avoided and tragically, that calculus is in the hands of politicians and military strategists.

  2. Point was more about expectations. Is there a correct policy to stop genocide, to moderate North Korea or Iran, to bring about peace in Israel and Palestine, to defeat the Taliban? Do we need to just "get it right"? Many Americans assume our exceptionalism, i.e. we are always in the right, and our power, i.e. we can control events. I am making a modest point. Neither is true.

  3. I see your point - in fact I think it mirrors to some degree my own self attitude. That is, I have no claim on exceptionalism (and am quite leary (though admiring) of people who do); I am keenly aware of how little control (i.e. power) over events I have; and low expectations are where its at as far as I am concerned. I would only add to that mix that I hate a challenge and try to avoid them whenever possible. I think the U.S. would be wise to be more like me.



Add to Technorati Favorites