Dan Drezner Tries to Explain

When he was teaching in Barcelona last week Dan had a certain amount of difficulty explaining to his students that it’s not always about us and sometimes even when it is about us it’s not about us:

Going forward, the persistence of anti-Americanism in the age of Obama might have nothing to do with the president, or his rhetoric, or even U.S. government actions. It might, instead, have to do with the congealed habits of thought that place the United States at the epicenter of all global movings and shakings. The tragedy is that such an exaggerated perception of American power and purpose is occurring at precisely the moment when the United States will need to scale back its global ambitions.

Question to readers: how can the United States deflate exaggerated perceptions of U.S. power?

which echoes things we’ve been saying around here.

In answer to Dan’s question I think our activities over the last eight years in Iraq and Afghanistan have been a heckuva start and no additional moves on our part may be necessary.

FILED UNDER: General, ,
Dave Schuler
About Dave Schuler
Over the years Dave Schuler has worked as a martial arts instructor, a handyman, a musician, a cook, and a translator. He's owned his own company for the last thirty years and has a post-graduate degree in his field. He comes from a family of politicians, teachers, and vaudeville entertainers. All-in-all a pretty good preparation for blogging. He has contributed to OTB since November 2006 but mostly writes at his own blog, The Glittering Eye, which he started in March 2004.


  1. JKB says:

    So now it is an “exaggerated perceptions” problem where just six months ago it was all Bush’s fault. Say what you will but George W. Bush sure did simplify things for a lot of people. How did things get so complicated?

  2. PD Shaw says:

    how can the United States deflate exaggerated perceptions of U.S. power?

    We could stop apologizing for everything. Meaningful apologies are usually expected to be accompanied by acts of contrition. But more importantly, the apologies tend to reinforce the view of an all-powerful America that could have fixed a whole host of problems in the world.

    This is a criticism across administrations. For example, I don’t think George W should have apologized for Yalta, which implicitly means the USA had both the ability and responsibility to protect Eastern Europe from Soviet domination in 1945. Albright shouldn’t have apologized for the allegedly successful CIA coup in Iran, because it reinforces the conspiratorial view that every tin pot dictator in the world is there by CIA sufferance.

  3. Steve Plunk says:

    Couldn’t that exaggerated power be a blessing as well as a curse? It depends on how we use it.

  4. steve says:

    LOL @ Dave. While I disagreed with invading Iraq, if we had handled it competently from the start, it would have made long term policy much easier. The jihadists should be much encouraged.


  5. Brett says:

    I’m not sure, honestly. Human beings in general have a tendency to see purpose and organization where none exist, and since there was undoubtedly some meddling in the past (and present), it’s easy to take that to conspiracy-theory levels.

    That reminds me of what Bob Baer said in his book See No Evil. At one point in it, he basically described this massive conspiracy theory that many of the Iraqis he had met held that attributed practically every event (from US support of Saddam, to the US’s change in stance) to a massive, extremely well-organized CIA conspiracy. I was almost in awe – I wish the CIA was that competent.