Op-Ed

PrintPrint EmailEmail ShareShare CiteCite
Style:MLAAPAChicagoClose

loading...

Enough With the Chicken Littles

Author: Micah Zenko, Douglas Dillon Fellow
July 29, 2014
Foreign Policy

Share

Alhough a dwindling number of Americans truly care about what happens elsewhere in the world, those who still do might believe, as former government officials have described it, that "the world is aflame," "there are fires burning everywhere," "many places around the world that we have interests ... are perilous," "the trend towards a more chaotic world is not going to change anytime soon," or "to put it mildly, the world is a mess." Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel recently declared: "The challenges and threats that face America today are the same challenges and threats that face the world. These are all borderless challenges.... Terrorism, fundamentalism, all these are threats, and they come from all parts of the world." Accordingly, somehow all countries are both unsafe and sources of all dangers.

The extent to which these terrifying and uncontested characterizations reflect "fact" is increasingly irrelevant. Once it emerges as conventional wisdom among government officials and foreign-policy commentators, given the political utility in using such language, such dire warnings become accepted as "truth." The relatively sudden development of this normative hyperbolism should be concerning for anyone still interested in U.S. foreign policy and world affairs, more generally.

The most consequential factor in whether you agree with this interpretation of unconstrained global chaos is probably how you obtain information upon which you make your assessment.

View full text of article.

More on This Topic

Op-Ed

Responsibility to Protect?

Author: Micah Zenko
ForeignPolicy.com

The interventions that U.S. policymakers have proposed to address Syria are based on a "deep misunderstandings of how U.S. force was used on...

Op-Ed

The Pretenders

Author: Micah Zenko
Foreign Policy

"The illusory belief of America's ability" to effect foreign events leads to the assumption that "whenever or wherever things go wrong...