- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating is associate editor at Foreign Policy and the editor of the Passport blog. He has worked as a researcher, editorial assistant, and deputy Web editor since joining the FP staff in 2007. In addition to being featured in Foreign Policy, his writing has been published by the Washington Post, Newsweek International, Radio Prague, the Center for Defense Information, and Romania's Adevarul newspaper. He has appeared as a commentator on CNN International, C-Span, ABC News, Al Jazeera, NPR, BBC radio, and others. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he studied comparative politics at Oberlin College.
About halfway through a mostly fascinating piece on McCain’s foreign policy in this weekend’s New York Times Magazine, author Matt Bai goes into a fairly unnecessary analysis of Francis Fukuyama’s seminal article, The End of History and the Last Man. The reference caught my eye because just two days ago, I attended a mostly fascinating discussion here at Carnegie between senior associate Robert Kagan and Times columnist David Brooks on Kagan’s new book The Return of History and the End of Dreams, whose very title is a reference to Fukuyama’s often-mocked, 19-year-old National Interest piece. Both Kagan and Bai are talented, original writers, which made me wonder: Why does it seem as thought every big-think piece on the last two decades of foreign policy must include at least one instance where the author trots out Fukuyama just to kick him in the teeth? Is there really no other way to describe early-90s, capitalist triumphalism than using this one phrase?
But “The End of History” is hardly alone. There are a number of convenient phrases and quotes that seem to pop up again and again as convenient shorthand for writers discussing big, complex foreign policy ideas. It’s for this very reason that FP has a blanket ban on article submissions begining “Since the end of the cold war…” or “In the wake of Sept. 11…”
Here, in no particular order, are five of the most clichéd foreign policy quotations and references that journalists and academics love to abuse:
Winston Churchill: “Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.”
Also, any use of matrioshka dolls as a metaphor.
The Marshall Plan: As in, “A new Marshall plan for…”
My boss, Moisés Naím, has already skewered this one nicely.
Carl von Clausewitz:
“War is a continuation of politics by other means.”
Using this line is a continuation of your word count by any means.
At this point, Tom Friedman surely deserves some sort of lifetime achievement award for inventing overquoted catchphrases.
Napoleon Bonaparte: “Let China sleep, for when she wakes, she will shake the world.”
Journalist James Kynge got a whole book out of this tired line. (And yes, it was mostly fascinating.)
Can you think of some others? Have at it in the comments.
Daniel W. Drezner is professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and a senior editor at The National Interest. Prior to Fletcher, he taught at the University of Chicago and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Drezner has received fellowships from the German Marshall Fund of the United States, the Council on Foreign Relations, and Harvard University. He has previously held positions with Civic Education Project, the RAND Corporation, and the Treasury Department.| Daniel W. Drezner |
Blake Hounshell is managing editor at Foreign Policy, having formerly been Web editor. Hounshell oversees ForeignPolicy.com and has commissioned and edited numerous cover stories for the print magazine, including National Magazine Award finalist "Why Do They Hate Us?" by Mona Eltahawy. He also edits The Cable, FP's first foray into daily original reporting, and was editor of Colum Lynch's Turtle Bay, which in 2011 won a National Magazine award for best reporting in a digital format.
Blake joined Foreign Policy in 2006 after living in Cairo, where he studied Arabic, missed his Steelers finally win one for the thumb, and worked for the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies. Blake was a 2011 finalist for the Livingston Awards prize for young journalists for his reporting on the Arab uprisings, and his Twitter feed was named one of Time magazine's "140 Best Twitter Feeds of 2011." Under his leadership, in 2008, Passport, FP's flagship blog, won Media Industry Newsletter's "Best of the Web" award in the blog category. Along with Elizabeth Dickinson, he edited Southern Tiger: Chile's Fight for a Democratic and Prosperous Future, the memoirs of former Chilean president Ricardo Lagos, published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2012.
A graduate of Yale University, Blake speaks mangled Arabic and French, is an avid runner, and lives in Washington with his wife, musician Sandy Choi, and their toddler, David. Follow him on Twitter @blakehounshell.| Passport |