Thursday, September 24, 2009

Hysteria and the hawks

I don't agree with Daniel Larison on the (lack of) virtues of internationalism, but he sure nails the reason why hawks peddle hysteria:
"The state of 'near-constant panic' Scoblete identifies is not an expression of real fear, because the threats are either manufactured or vastly exaggerated, but it is part of a concerted effort to manipulate the public into accepting policies that it neither needs nor can afford. Mark Helprin is not an idiot. Not even people at the Claremont Institute can actually believe that scrapping a small set of missile interceptors that was defending against a threat that didn’t exist makes any difference to European security, much less that it can be seriously compared to Munich or even to the controversy over deployment of nuclear missiles in western Europe. It is hype designed to frighten people, to get them to stop thinking and to begin reacting viscerally and emotionally."
He also admits to being surprised by how strong Obama's foreign policy numbers have been despite months of withering attacks from hawks. I must say, I'm a little surprised myself. As we have seen, support for a policy objective can be demonstrated by how susceptible it is to hysteria. Healthcare reform, for example, turned out to be somewhat less popular when subjected to such hysteria, though it seems to be close no matter how you slice it (and presumably would be more popular if the Republicans were honest or the media did its job). But the public is unmoved by the neocons' hysteria. This might signify a relatively stable equilibrium when it comes to the Administration's handling of foreign affairs, and a sign that people agree deep down with the less-hawkish things Obama is trying to do. I see this as really good news--for the moment, it seems, we have learned our lessons on foreign policy and aren't listening to the idiots. Now, if only that were true in every area of policy...

The Man, The Myth, The Bio

East Bay, California, United States
Problem: I have lots of opinions on politics and culture that I need to vent. If I do not do this I will wind up muttering to myself, and that's only like one or two steps away from being a hobo. Solution: I write two blogs. A political blog that has some evident sympathies (pro-Obama, mostly liberal though I dissent on some issues, like guns and trade) and a culture blog that does, well, cultural essays in a more long-form manner. My particular thing is taking overrated things (movies, mostly, but other things too) down a peg and putting underrated things up a peg. I'm sort of the court of last resort, and I tend to focus on more obscure cultural phenomena.