Thursday, January 20, 2022

One Thing That Bothers Me About Foreign Policy Discussions ...

... is that many people who rightly notice how dumb and flighty and arbitrary and capricious US foreign policy is also believe that every other state on the planet is coldly rational, takes the long view, etc., and does so due to some inherent, in-the-blood "national spirit" running back through the centuries.

If I had a nickel for every time someone claimed that a particular state -- usually Russia -- "thinks long-term" and is playing an eternal chess game in which it's always five moves ahead of its opponents, I'd be a very wealthy man.

Was Nicholas five moves ahead when he decided to support Serbia versus the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1914?

Was Stalin five moves ahead when he entered into the non-aggression pact with Hitler, then co-invaded Poland, then let himself get taken by surprise?

Yeah, that there Brezhnev proved himself a veritable Boris Spassky with the whole invasion of Afghanistan bit, didn't he?

That's not to say there aren't situations in which another state's foreign policy apparatus isn't thinking more clearly, in the moment, than that of the US. There certainly are. In fact, it seems to be the norm lately. But it's not some kind of magical quality of particular "nationhoods," extending across the long term as an inherent phenomenon No state is immune to hubris. Sooner or later, all of them fuck up.

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