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Friday, September 9, 2016

My Top 5 Foreign-Policy Unicorns — and Why I Want to Kill Them

My Top 5 Foreign-Policy Unicorns — and Why I Want to Kill Them

On magical creatures and the promises of politicians.
Have you ever seen a unicorn? Me neither. Unicorns are mythical beasts, supposedly imbued with many attractive, even magical, qualities — but, alas, they are not actually real. Nor have I seen any orcs, basilisks, balrogs, or any of the other evil creatures dreamt up by fiction writers: Here, the good news is these don’t exist and never did. Apart from CGI-enhanced movies, anyone who claimed they could find or create one of them would be regarded as something of a crackpot.
But in politics, we are often asked to believe in unicorns, mermaids, or goblins and to vote for politicians who say they are either going to produce one (if it’s something we want) or eradicate them (if we think they’re dangerous). In other words, we’re being asked to believe in things that don’t exist and then being promised that our future leaders will make policy as if they were real. Politicians asking us to believe in one of their pet unicorns are either deluding themselves or insulting our intelligence. Worse, spending a lot of time and effort looking for unicorns or goblins distracts us from real opportunities and genuine dangers, including domestic issues like our crumbling infrastructure and underperforming schools.
In that spirit, therefore, I’m presenting a list of my top five foreign-policy “unicorns” — those mythical beasts we keep pretending are real — in the hope that by naming them, we can finally make them go away.

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