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The Pretenders

Author: Micah Zenko, Senior Fellow
August 21, 2013
Foreign Policy


On Sunday, while discussing the latest horrific state violence unleashed upon unarmed civilian protestors in Egypt, David Gregory wondered aloud on Meet the Press: "One of the things that's striking as I talk to people is this question why can't the U.S. do more, why can't we have greater influence here?" Beyond the current events in Egypt, Gregory's question is one that U.S. officials, policymakers, and pundits consistently apply to any country or region that defies U.S. foreign policy objectives.

The illusory belief of America's ability to shape, leverage, influence, sway, direct, or control foreign events is widespread within Washington's foreign policy community. Its direct implication is that whenever or wherever things go wrong elsewhere on earth, it must be America's fault. To maintain this underlying presumption, it is required that you pretend 10 things:

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