A hypothesis: no body of literature is more inane and unreadable than mainstream commentary on U.S. foreign policy. An example from a NYT op-ed that I could not bear to read past the first paragraph:
Over a long campaign, it’s become maddeningly difficult to tease out concrete differences in how Barack Obama and Mitt Romney would deal with an angry, unmanageable world that at once craves and resents American intervention.
I get the part about how Romney and Obama are similar on foreign policy — but what does that last bit even mean?! First, the whole world outside the U.S. is “one thing”? Second, this “world” has some kind of neurotic relationship toward U.S. intervention? Is U.S. intervention a “guilty pleasure” for the world, something it indulges in and then hates itself in the morning? Does the world hate itself for its addiction to the U.S. but find itself unable to quit — and then blames us for its own lack of willpower?
Meanwhile, we’re just trying to get everyone to calm down, trying to make the situation more manageable. They’re not angry at us, of course — even if they can’t admit it openly, they want, indeed crave our guidance. In the last analysis, they want to be managed by us, they know they need it — their resentment is just a childish acting-out. They just can’t face up to their deep-seated desire to be dominated by the U.S.
The only question of how to handle this situation is striking the right balance of toughness and tenderness. It can’t be a question of whether the U.S. should just leave everyone to sort things out by themselves — even if they seem a little conflicted about it, everyone wants the U.S. to take charge. The sole issue we need to address is whether Obama or Romney is better suited to be our seductive foreign-policy Don Draper, who knows when force is actually being requested.