How Obama Can [Verb] to His Way to [Noun]: A Foreign-Policy Mad Lib

You, too, can make your own formulaic policy pitch to the White House!

RTR3CROO-615.jpgJim Bourg/Reuters

The next [time period] will prove a critical turning point in [pet issue for big-name donors] given [arbitrary news peg]. Indeed, we are already seeing signs of this as [noun] increasingly moves toward a point of no return. This trend is likely to continue, albeit perhaps in a slightly different way than before. Indeed, it may accelerate. And if [current U.S. president] wishes to avoid the failures of [his/her] predecessors, [he/she] must [verb] more, [verb] better, and above all [verb] in a more [adjective] manner than [he/she] has so far.

The fact is that [fact] is of global concern in an increasingly interconnected world. The implications for the United States specifically are not yet clear. But one thing that is clear is that growing [noun] cannot simply be wished away. The [current U.S. president] administration must do more to shape events on the ground, lest they [verb] in a manner that runs contrary to American interests. The danger of continuing to embrace an [adjective] approach to the issue would be hard to overstate. In the short term, it would almost certainly result in [overstatement of danger]. The long-term consequences could be more dangerous still.

What's required, then, is a new way of thinking: a [number]-pronged approach that recognizes the complexity of the problem and is tailored to address its many root causes. In particular, the United States must discard its [adjective] approach to [problem] in [country], instead embracing a fully-integrated [hyphenated portmanteau involving three countries] strategy that more fully accounts for the porousness of borders in the digital age.

We must carefully blend [vegetable] and sticks in acknowledgment that neither punishment nor rewards are sufficient to the [noun] of the [noun] at hand.

And just as [problem] does not recognize borders, so our policy must transcend traditional ways of thinking. [Problem] cannot be resolved through [noun] alone. Nor is [noun] by itself sufficient to the magnitude of the current crisis. Finally, even [noun] is no panacea, and more often serves only as a [noun] over the gaping [noun] of our strategic myopia.

Rather, it is only through the skillful, coordinated use of [noun], [noun], and economic [noun], the relative proportions of which must be precisely calibrated at the outset and adjusted as events dictate, that we can hope to achieve [noun]. We must carefully blend [vegetable] and sticks in acknowledgment that neither punishment nor rewards are sufficient to the [noun] of the [noun] at hand. And we must begin to do so now, before the brief [noun] of opportunity allowed by [arbitrary news peg] slams shut, leaving the United States [metaphor].

This study does not aim to address [actual problem]. Nor does it deal with [other actual problem]. Finally, [major problem] lies outside the scope of the present research. What this study does do, however, is uncover novel trends in [issue major donors like] that policymakers would do well to [verb]. Among the concrete, specific policy recommendations suggested by the results are:

[Pick one word from each column to form a recommendation.]
















Root out





Civil society

Partner with






There are those who argue that [straw man]. This is dangerously [adjective], and ignores the [noun] of the [noun]. The time to [verb] is now. In the future, [noun] may or may not [verb]. But by then, it will be too [adjective] to [verb].

Presented by

Kathy Gilsinan is an associate editor at The Atlantic, where she covers global affairs. She was previously senior editor at World Politics Review.

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