Let's Talk

080602Enemies1_mue9aka%201.png

One point I've been trying to make in my book talks is that there's precious little evidence that public opinion is demanding a neo-imperial foreign policy for the United States. Nobody felt during the 2000 presidential campaign that the public was clamoring for a new Orwellian doctrine of "anticipatory self-defense" (to repeat the phrase used in Doug Feith's book) in which the United States was going to launch aggressive wars against countries that hadn't attacked us or our allies and had no plans of doing so. September 11, clearly, had a large impact on public opinion but even then there was little public interest in doing this, which is why the Bush administration overstated both the scale and the immediacy of the alleged Iraqi threat while drastically downplaying the costs.

And you see again that while it took a certain amount of courage for Barack Obama to stand up to the crusted-over notion that the United States should set itself up as too damn important to conduct high-level talks with regional adversaries, there's not some genuine avalanche of public opinion on the other side of this issue. What you have instead is a political and media system that's very vulnerable to hype, fearmongering, hysteria, etc. But calm political leadership that doesn't panic at the first sign of conservative self-confidence about the politics of warmongering has a real chance to win these fights.

Presented by

Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

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

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Politics

Just In