While I'm on the Seoul train....

Your humble blogger will be making his first visit to South Korea in less than twenty-four hours, and is very excited about that prospect.  Blogging will therefore be on the lighter side for the next few days. 

Talk amongst yourselv-- wait, then again, maybe you shouldn't do that. 

Before I explain what I mean, let's have some disclosure.  I blog at the foreign affairs portal in the United States.  I'm a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.  I've done the occasional consulting gig.  I'm on reasonably good terms with foreign policy wonks from across the spectrum.  Occasionally I get invited to swanky DC events and interview Tiger Moms.  The point is, relative to a lot of people reading this paragraph, I'm pretty damn insider-y. 

I bring all of this up because I probably have a higher tolerance for inside-the-Beltway bulls**t... and yet after reading this and this, I had to suppress my desire to vomit on my computer screen.  The first link merely confirms the epistemic closure that pervades much of the right wing in Washington, DC.  The latter is, on the other hand, the most incestuous thing ever written about anything, ever, in the history of mankind.  Really, compared to those stories, the George W. Bush library ceremony seems... tame. 

Combined, the two stories either function as a damning indictment on the state of DC insideriness... or I'm overreacting to the standard offal that comprises much of political journalism.  I'm honestly not sure.  Contrary to a lot of outside-the-beltway folk, I've come to see a utility for rent-seeking and back-scratching in politics.  It functions as a necessary lubricant to get useful legislation passed.  One could argue that part of the problem with Washington as it currently functions is that there's not enough earmarking, vote-buying, or other cross-cutting political exchanges. 

At the same time, the revulsion I felt after reading these essays was quite real.  I could barely finish Allen's Politico story, it was that insipid.  These are the kind of essays that cause even a jaded foreign policy hand like myself to mutter "you'll be the first ones up against the wall when the Revolution comes" after reading Politico.  Sure, much of this behavior is baked into the cake that is American political science... but I still ponder about the future of the Republic.  

So I'll leave this as something for readers to ponder while I'm in the ROK -- over the next week there's going to be some serious foreign policy questions being debated:  whether to react to Syria's chemical weapons use, or what to do about inter-Korean tensions, for example.  Will this conversation be taking place in a policy universe that is just too damn small? 

What do you think? 


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