The chairs of the House and Senate intelligence committees stated last weekend that the world was getting more unsafe. A few days later, the Pew Research Center reported that 52 percent of Americans think the U.S. should “mind its own business internationally,” the highest such total in the nearly 50-year history of that query. Taken together, these two items symbolize a serious emerging national problem. The crackup ahead lies in the mismatch between the challenges facing America and the public’s willingness to support activist foreign policy to deal with them. Simply put: There is a splintering of the traditional consensus for global engagement at the very time that some big new problems are emerging
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A modest proposal is that Obama should convene a younger group of American leaders: strategists, technologists, professors. It would be a learning exercise — to understand how the country should deal with the problems of the next 10 years without making the mistakes of the past 10. What has America learned from its struggles with Islamic extremism? What lessons do we take from our painful expeditionary wars? How can Americans too young to remember the Iranian revolution of 1979 engage that country, but also set clear limits on its behavior?
Happily, a new generation of thinkers could form the bipartisan group I’m imagining. If you don’t know their names yet, you should: Marc Lynch of George Washington University, known to his online fans as “Abu Aardvark”; David Kilcullen, one of the architects of counterinsurgency success in Iraq and author of “Out of the Mountains,” an iconoclastic new book on future urban conflicts; Michèle Flournoy, a clear-eyed former undersecretary of defense; and Jared Cohen and Alec Ross, two technological wizards who advised the State Department under Hillary Clinton and are now with Google and Johns Hopkins University, respectively. I’d add the administration’s own Salman Ahmed , Tony Blinken , Ben Rhodes , Wendy Sherman and Jake Sullivan .
What encourages me is that the same American public that wants the United States to mind its own business internationally also registers a two-thirds majority in favor of greater U.S. involvement in the global economy, according to the Pew poll. Young respondents were even more internationalist on this issue than their elders.
Phi Beta Iota: To be mentioned by David Ignatius in this context is to be exposed as nothing more than another cesspool “prefect” aspiring to be in charge of a larger piece of the cesspool. Not a single person named has the intellectual or moral integrity necessary to devise a “fresh approach.” Well-intentioned individuals, certainly. Competent with respect to what is needed, a grasp of hybrid public governance with integrity in the public interest, holistic multicultural analytics, and true cost economics? Not a chance. What this article by Ignatius, long the chief pimp for the party line, really signals, is the end of the first half of the Obama Administration’s spectacularly failed second term, worse than the first. The White House is casting about for replacements as all the seniors prepare to bail out and leverage the last two years of “access” in the lobbyist tradition. Now is the time for the second string to get some playing time…at any cost, never mind the continued betrayal of the public trust.