Voice

In your face, Millennial foreign policy wonks!!

Since I moved to Foreign Policy, the blog post that generated the most feedback was my impressionistic take on the Millennial generation's foreign policy perspectives.  I concluded that post on whether generaional cohorts would have distinct foreign policy attitudes with the following:

As I think about it, here are the Millennials' foundational foreign policy experiences: 

1)  An early childhood of peace and prosperity -- a.k.a., the Nineties;

2)  The September 11th attacks;

3)  Two Very Long Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq;

4)  One Financial Panic/Great Recession;

5)  The ascent of China under the shadow of U.S. hegemony. 

From these experiences, I would have to conclude that this generation should be anti-interventionist to the point of isolationism. 

There was a LOT of very thoughtful pushback in the comments and e-mails from Millennials themselves -- enough for me to wonder whether my jaded Gen-Xer eyes were growing too world-weary. 

Now, however, we actually have some data.  The Brookings Institution has released a new report, "D.C.'s New Guard: What Does the Next Generation of American Leaders Think?"  The survey results came from 1,057 respondents (with a average age of 16.4) who attended the National Student Leadership Conference, Americans for Informed Democracy young leaders programs, and other DC internships -- i.e., those young people already predisposed towards a political career.   

The results are veeeeery revealing.  The headline figure is that 73% of respondents think that "The U.S. is no longer globally respected" -- which actually suggests that the respondents haven't been looking at the data, but that's a side note.  No, the really interesting response is as follows:

[A]lmost 58% of the young leaders in this survey agreed with the statement that the U.S. is too involved in global affairs and should do more at home. Alternatively, 32.4% thought the U.S. had "struck the right balance" between issues at home and abroad," while only 10% thought that the United States should be more globally proactive.

This isolationist sentiment among the younger generation stands in stark comparison to the Chicago Council's recent 2010 polling of older Americans, which found that 67% wanted America to have an active role in the world and only 31% thought we should limit our involvement, a near exact reverse. The older generation survey concluded that there was "persisting support for an internationalist foreign policy at levels unchanged from the past," but this perceived persistence is certainly not there among the young leaders (emphasis added).

Now, to be fair, It is possible to reconcile beliefs that the United States is doing too much abroad now while still believing that the U.S. should exert global leadership, but on a more modest scale.  Still, I'm counting this as a clear win over the young people insisting that my impressionistic take on their generation was wrong.  Take that, Bieberheads!!!

[Hey, I just noticed this paragraph by P.W. Singer at the start of the report:

In 2011, a “silver tsunami” will hit the United States: the oldest Baby Boomers will reach the United States’ legal retirement age of 65. As the Boomers leave the scene, a new generation will begin to take over. But while the generation that directly follows the Boomers, Generation X, may be “of age”, there is a good chance that it will not actually shape public life and leadership as much the following generation, the Echo Boomers, also known as the “Millennials." (emphasis added)

Say, could that swipe at your generation explain your attitude in this post?--ed.] 

No!!  Really!!  It has nothing to do with that!  Now if you'll excuse me, I need to lock myself into a dark room and watch Reality Bites on an endless loop for the next 24 hours. 

Daniel W. Drezner

What do the 2011 Oscars tell us about world politics?

Compared to the exciting developments in the Middle East, the 2011 Oscars telecast had all the excitement of watching wallpaper paste harden.  To be fair, however, even judged in a vacuum, these Oscars were galactically boring -- which is saying something given Melissa Leo's tres bleu acceptance speech.  The patter was boring, the gowns were boring, and Celine Dion's braying singing ruined the memorial montage.  I got so bored during the actual telecast that I had to make up a scenario whereby former Oscar hosts started massive protests against the current Oscar regime to maintain any interest in the proceedings. 

[So, why are you blogging about it?--ed.]  To demonstrate my ability to wring world politics insights from even the most mundane of sources, of course!!  And they are:

1)  Last year I noted that films leaning towards security studies trounced the more global political economy-friendly films.  Obviously, The King's Speech (which is about leadership and great power politics) beating out The Social Network (which is about intellectual property rights and network externalities) for Best Picture is a continuation of that theme.  Still, the overall results were more mixed.  The Social Network did pick up a few Oscars, including Best Adapted Screenplay, and in the Best Documentary category, Inside Job upset Restrepo -- which meant a real-live-honest-to-goodness political scientist now owns an Academy Award.  NOTE:  This doesn't mean all political scientists are happy about this. 

2)  I've been a longtime supporter of drug legalization as a way to eliminate multiple foreign policy headaches -- but based on the behavior of many Oscar presenters and winners, I'm now wondering if there should be drug testing before the Academy Awards.   

3)  Here's a thought -- if the Brits keep giving the best acceptance speeches, then maybe the Academy should just outsource the awards hosting duties to them as well?  I mean, after that show, suddenly all the carping about Ricky Gervais seems churlish.  I could see Russell Brand and Helen Mirren doing at least a passable job at it. 

4)  As for the Best Picture Winner, I myself would have preferred The Social Network -- but I enjoyed The King's Speech decently enough despite the massive historical revisionism in the film.  It's not like The Social Network was a straight re-creation of history either.  If the controversy about historical accuracy prompts a deeper discussion about the period under question, so be it.  And let me stress that this position has nothing to do with the fact that the Official Blog Wife feels about Colin Firth the same way I do about Salma Hayek.

Did I miss anything?