The dumbing down of (paper) ‘Foreign Policy’

I’ve long been a fan of ‘Foreign Policy’ magazine– back to the days when my dear (late) friend Bill Maynes was the editor. It got more zip and texture with the redesign introduced by Moises Naim when he became editor. Now, they have a new-ish editor, susan Glasser, and new ownership… yes, it’s gone from being owned by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace to being owned by (gasp!) the WaPo.
And it shows.
The latest issue– the “Bad Guys Issue”– is almost completely sophomoric. reducing the complexity of international relations to a question of “bad guys” is really inane. And the whole of the piece by Ghanaian citizen George B.N. Ayittey titled, “The Worst of the Worst: Bad dude dictators and general coconut heads” follows along completely with the childish, content-less name-calling of the title.
U.S. citizens live in a large country that– along with China– is the only one that is big enough that even in today’s world a dream of autarky, isolationism, and provincialism can still seems plausible. And in the U.S. one big result of this has been that many otherwise involved citizens are deeply ignorant about the rest of the world. A publication like Foreign Policy should set out to help educate them (us)– at least, not simply to mindlessly perpetuate old myths to the effect that most of the world’s problems are due to “the bad guys”, the “coconut heads”, etc.
What a tragedy to see what the paper edition of the FP has become.
Luckily, several parts of the fairly independently run website are a whole lot better.
I’m just off to see what Steve Walt has been writing there recently… And then, on to see what’s new on the Middle East Channel. I think Bill Maynes (RIP) would enjoy the online version of the mag much more than this present dead-tree version.

One thought on “The dumbing down of (paper) ‘Foreign Policy’”

  1. What fascinates me is the way herds of pundits spend all day every day talking each other into group thinks very tenuously connected with anything real. And thus we have the myth of Obama the Secret Peacemaker that will never die, and the myth that American foreign policy has anything to do with security and with fomenting democracy and peace, and all the other coagulations of steaming bullshit that the ‘intellectual’ (translate, hopelessly immature) classes love to fetshize.

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