Republicans and the Conan Doctrine


Via Alex Massie, Dan Drezner surveys the interest of the Republican field in foreign affairs and comes away horrified:

During the 2008 US presidential election cycle, the respected journal Foreign Affairs invited the leading prsidential candidates from both parties to outline their views of world politics. All of them responded with essays that, one presumes, they at least read if did not write. This year, ahead of next year’s elections, Foreign Affairs has proffered the same invitation to the leading Republican aspirants. To date, they have all refused or not responded.

The problem here is simple: the tea party attitude toward foreign policy these days is about the same as Conan’s:

Mongol General: Conan! What is best in life? 

Conan: To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women.

Since the tea party apparently controls the GOP nomination, this is basically what every candidate has to say. No nuance will be tolerated. It’s pretty tiresome. But of course, even the dumbest of them knows that you really can’t say something like this in the pages of Foreign Affairs. So they’re best off punting. After all, if you stray too far from the Conan Doctrine, even accidentally, you’ll lose precious votes, but if you stick too close to it you’ll make a fool of yourself among Beltway elites that (no matter how much they deny it) really do matter to them. It’s a lose-lose proposition.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate