This is an important little piece from Foreign Policy’s Shadow Government blog. It’s compact, but quite important, especially when you understand what the author is critiquing:
If “Setting Priorities” is the most recent attempt to argue for a more coherent internationalist grand strategy — a worthy endeavor — then whatever weaknesses it has might throw into relief some broader problems of U.S. foreign policy.
Why important? Because of this note near the end of the piece:
… the report-like all “national security strategies” published by every administration since Congress mandated the document in 1987-is less a “strategy” document than a list of aspirations and goals.
“Strategic” foreign policy thought, as expressed by our government in the public realm, has long been reduced to talking points, wish lists, and occasional partisan sniping. Now is the time for serious discussion about the proper place of the United States in a changing international landscape of political power. Simply saying that we should show leadership or advocate for some laudable goal isn’t enough. Means, actions, and expected ends along with an honest assessment of what role the US needs to be playing in everything from “democratization” to moderating talks between warring groups.
The United States seems to be suffering a deficit of strong and wise leadership along with a paucity of serious thought in the public realm. While our last presidential election should have revolved around things like our foundering economy and our nebulous foreign policy, it instead seemed to focus on binders full of women, free contraception, and taking gratuitous pot-shots at China. We need better, although I would suggest that our reality-show obsessed culture doesn’t necessarily deserve better. I’ll consider changing that view when we start rewarding serious thought with the same acclaim that we do a bunch of dignity-stripped attention whores and fools on the latest terrifying reality TV series.Read the original.