Let’s face it: foreign policy is boring. Even the words are unexciting. They bring to mind images of striped pants, tortured doublespeak, tedious people, and unbelievably dull cocktail parties. Foreign policy not only makes people yawn, it often puts them to sleep. It’s not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of words like sexy or fun.
Think about it: how many really good films have been made about foreign policy? No, Lawrence of Arabia and other war movies don’t count; neither do Goldfinger and other spy flicks. I can think of only three where diplomats are characters (Dr. Strangelove, Notorious, and Roman Holiday), but none where foreign policy is central to the plot — unless you count Ingrid Bergman’s decision in Casablanca to leave Humphrey Bogart to become First Lady of Czechoslovakia, and that’s really stretching things.
HBO isn’t looking at a pilot called Diplomacy in the City, and Disney isn’t going to produce a movie called Foreign Service Institute Musical. Even The West Wing almost never covered foreign policy — except in that episode where a cranky Hal Holbrook yammers the whole time and drives Martin Sheen nuts. Blizzard won’t be making World of Foreign Policy anytime soon. And I don’t think Green Day, Michael Franti, or Li’l Wayne are lining up to sing/rap about NAFTA or the OECD.
Yet few things are as important as how the United States relates to the world. It affects everything: our jobs, our families, our taxes, and our freedoms. Not a day goes by where every single one of us isn’t affected by foreign policy — and by how our government conducts it.
Think I’m wrong? Have you filled up the tank or bought food lately? Prices don’t just go up randomly — they’re usually the product of decisions made by our government or other governments. And then there’s that whole Iraq thing — and Afghanistan/Pakistan — and climate change — and nukes in North Korea and Iran — among numerous other global challenges. The reality is that the United States can’t solve the world’s problems on its own. What happens around the world affects all of us, and what happens here affects the rest of the world.
Here at Undiplomatic, we believe that talking about foreign policy doesn’t have to be painfully dull. In fact, we think we can make it sexy. Maybe not George Clooney-Angelina Jolie sexy, but we’re going to try our best anyway. And when we cover the world, we’ll try not to sound like that teacher in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.