Inigo Montoya famously said, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” Journalists seem especially prone to the Inigo Montoya problem, especially when it comes to basic ideas in international relations.
David Sanger had an article in yesterday’s Sunday NYT op-ed section titled “Deterrence Revisited“. In it he argues (borrowing from a White House official) that President Obama is trying to find “a middle ground between the isolation strain that has emerged and the overextension of the past decade”. This has become a common, well-worn trope: present two “extreme” points of view (“isolationism” poorly-defined on the one hand and whatever it was that George W. did on the other) and then present something vaguely in the middle as the “reasonable” center. Nixon’s aphorism that we’re all Keynesians may or may not be true, but we sure are all Hegelians. Continue reading