America’s Place in the World is Basically Just Fine, Thanks Very Much for Asking

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Dan Drezner suggests that America’s foreign policy community needs to take a very deep breath:

I suggest a community-wide vacation because, right now, a lot of them are writing a lot of nonsense. The combination of perceived U.S. inaction on Syria and Snowden is leading to a lot of silly talk about how Russia is back and China is back and the U.S. can’t do anything anymore and everything is going to hell in a handbasket.

I don’t mean to go on a rant here, but this is just so much bulls**t.

OK, it’s not all that. Advocates of humanitarian intervention are justifiably upset about inaction on Syria — and they should be even more upset if the administration is actually doing what I think they’re doing in Syria.

That said, there’s not much that’s new in these laments. China and Russia are opposing U.S. interests? Well, blow me down!! I haven’t seen that kind of activity since… since… every year for the last decade. There’s nothing new here.

This is truth. The Middle East has been a festering trouble spot for, oh, about the last five or six decades. Our relations with China and Russia have been tetchy (or worse) for about as long, and are likely to continue that way pretty much forever. Hell, our relations with France are kinda tetchy sometimes. As for all the Snowden hysteria, President Obama has roughly the right attitude: “No, I’m not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker.”

Our current problems are, in historical context, fairly modest, and America’s place in the world is basically fine. Relatively speaking, it’s almost certain to improve in the medium-term future, not decline. And Obama’s foreign policy, though it’s had the usual share of missteps, has been pretty solid. Dan is right: we need to chill, people.

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