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.

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.

The Horrors of Rat Hole Mining

"The river was our source of water. Now, the people won't touch it. They are repulsed by it."

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus


The Horrors of Rat Hole Mining

"The river was our source of water. Now, the people won't touch it."


What's Your Favorite Slang Word?

From "swag" to "on fleek," tweens choose.


Cryotherapy's Dubious Appeal

James Hamblin tries a questionable medical treatment.


Confessions of Moms Around the World

In Europe, mothers get maternity leave, discounted daycare, and flexible working hours.


How Do Trees Know When It's Spring?

The science behind beautiful seasonal blooming

More in Global

Just In