In the president,and making dissent almost impossible in

In the introduction to their book The Silence of the Rational Center,authors Halper and Clarke assert that American foreign policy has recently been largely unsuccessful. They identify three elements as being inherent flaws in the contemporary foreign policy decision-making process, producing irrational and impulsive policy-so-called “Big Ideas,” the 24/7 cable news cycle,and the silence of what they call the “rational center,” the analysts, scholars, and professionals with thorough foreign policy expertise.The first element or elements, Big Ideas are described by Halper as being “rhetorical devices” which typically boil complex foreign policy issues down to an overly simplified, few-word, dichotimic phrase. One example is “Axis of Evil,” a phrase which originated in a speech made by George W. Bush and used to describe foreign governments which supposedly sponsored terrorist organizations. The phrase lumps together countries with very little in common, doing away with the complexity of the issue and leaving no room for the nuance needed to arrive at a successful policy for dealing with all of the. Halper and Clarke claim that these Big Ideas are rooted in both American Exceptionalism and the unusually strong religious faith of the nation,which have given the American people a propensity for moralistic and idealistic missions from the country’s birth. They point to two Big Ideas-9/11 Changed Everything and Nation at War-as being responsible for oversimplifying the situation in the Middle East, rallying the public around the president,and making dissent almost impossible in the face of the Bush administration’s poor decision to invade Iraq.The second issue to which Halper and Clarke point is one oft-cited in laundry lists of problems with the state of America-the rise of 24/7 media. Media companies seek first and foremost to attract viewers and generate profit, which naturally leads to sensationalistic journalism. Big Ideas are typically catchy and quick phrases, making them perfect tools for news networks. Thoughtful and comprehensive discussions of foreign policy,on the other hand, are complex, long,and tedious, none of which are qualities particularly attractive to viewers. This forces experts invited to appear on television to water down their policy opinions to one snappy sound bite and frames complicated issues as black and white,when they rarely ever are.


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