As Halloween approaches, here is a title to consider: Theories of International Relations and Zombies. It's a funny new book by Daniel Drezner, a scholar of international political economy at Tufts University's Fletcher School. In it he asks, mock-seriously, how leading academic interpreters of war and diplomacy might respond to a completely novel problem--like the threat to global security posed by the “undead.”
In writing about flesh-eating zombies, Drezner has, believe it or not, plenty of company these days. The role of the supernatural in foreign policy--a freak theme no more--has gone completely mainstream. In just the last few months, I count at least four other books in this burgeoning new genre. And they're not presented in Drezner's what-if mode, either. They have real-world questions in mind. How and why does America succumb to fits of madness in its relations with other countries? Why does it so often overreach and overreact?
The answer, these books tell us, seems to lie in altered states of consciousness--messianic enchantment, demonic possession, divine mission, what have you. Zombies, in other words, are no mere hypothetical threat. They're all around us--and may have been running things for a long time.