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Revue de Presse: April 25

Summary:
This week, multiple articles highlight the continued waffling of the professional foreign policy establishment. In The National Interest, David V. Gioe offers a vision of American security imperatives wherein concerns abroad must necessarily take a backseat to domestic affairs.  Meanwhile, in Foreign Policy, Daniel Baer argues for a renewal of American strategic engagement by rendering foreign policy imperatives more tangible for average Americans. Also writing for Foreign Policy, Stephen Cook underlines the dangers of hasty decisions in the Middle East (namely, leaving), and of learning the wrong lessons from twenty years of military engagement. As foreign policy realists and institutionalists alike disparage their innumerable bugaboos, it falls to satirists to deliver the most cogent

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Revue de Presse: April 25This week, multiple articles highlight the continued waffling of the professional foreign policy establishment. In The National Interest, David V. Gioe offers a vision of American security imperatives wherein concerns abroad must necessarily take a backseat to domestic affairs.  Meanwhile, in Foreign Policy, Daniel Baer argues for a renewal of American strategic engagement by rendering foreign policy imperatives more tangible for average Americans. Also writing for Foreign Policy, Stephen Cook underlines the dangers of hasty decisions in the Middle East (namely, leaving), and of learning the wrong lessons from twenty years of military engagement. As foreign policy realists and institutionalists alike disparage their innumerable bugaboos, it falls to satirists to deliver the most cogent foreign policy takes. C. Lee Shea’s The Longest Telegram is a masterful send up of the consistently unclear and contradictory perspectives on American engagement with China.

In an interview with Ezra Klein that spans many fascinating topics—most notably the importance of understanding the function of status in American society—Tressie McMillan Cottom makes her case for blogging as a form of public writing. There are few other forms of expression between the tweet and the scholarly article or the magazine feature. The early 2000s heyday of blogging was no golden age: many people were left out of the burgeoning online conversation that launched the careers of writers like Klein. Today, though, the situation is quite different. Social media has opened public discourse wider than it’s ever been. More people than ever have access to the means of expression and communication. But as Cottom puts it, broadening access “means that we’re all equally uncomfortable”: everyone finds themself in a position where they aren’t sure what can or ought be said, or how. This discomfort can drive a deep resentment for those used to feeling in control, but for Cottom it puts a responsibility on all of us to “be thoughtful” and “reconsider what the norms are.”

Writing for American Affairs, Conor Skelding has reviewed Fredrik de Boers’ new book The Cult of Smart. In it, Boers articulates a “prayer” for those considered “untalented” by the labor market, and argues that a socialist system would undo or replace many of the particular cruelties of a meritocratic system. For instance, “In a socialist world … the absurd college ranking game no longer exists.” As Skelding notes, Boers seems to skewer both conservatives and progressives, particularly for their adherence to education as social mobility, and uses fairly “aggressive rhetoric” (Skelding’s characterization). His critique of the left offers one example: “In Park Slope and Uptown and Echo Park, the journalists and artists and academics who help define what it means to be progressive live lives of great privilege, thanks to the very meritocratic system that creates inequality.” But despite the contrarian points Boers does make —including his internal critique of the left and his argument that “educational achievement is significantly heritable”—Skelding concludes that many of Boers’ solutions seem to be “vanilla.” Skelding views these proposed fixes as rather similar to the policy prescriptions of the “Brooklyn liberals” whom Boers accuses of hypocrisy, and ultimately more fitting for “the United States as it might have been decades ago, before many college graduates started to find themselves on the wrong end of the economic sorting mechanism.”

Photo credit: Laura Chouette via Unsplash

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