Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Foreign Policy of the Zen Masters

Dan Drezner divides American foreign policy experts into two groups: the Reality Creators, who want to run around doing things and stopping others from creating "facts on the ground," and the Zen Masters:
These people think that the long arc of history is bending in their direction — that the fundamental strengths of the United States and its key allies are more robust than any potential rivals on the global stage. The worst thing to do, therefore, is to overreact in the short run to things that will balance out in the long run. They don’t believe in getting riled up too much, and that, in the end, the universe tends to unfold as it should. It’s not that they’re unaware of what Russia or China or the Islamic State is doing — it’s that they believe that these actions are short-sighted, counterproductive and very likely to fail. They believe that actors that try to forcibly revise the status quo will pay a serious price. The Zen Masters predict that Russia won’t be able to do much to directly control eastern Ukraine, China is alienating all of its neighbors, Iran is itching to re-join the international community, and the Islamic State will eventually alienate its subject population through its zealotry.
That describes my views almost exactly; it seems to me that almost all of the major "actions" we have carried out in the past 14 years have made things worse. But instead of the Buddha as a progenitor I might point to Talleyrand, who remarked that "Most things get done by not being done."

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