A Washington think tank calls for more of the same failed intervention.

By Andrew J. Bacevich
May 26, 2017
The American Conservative

The election of Donald Trump as president last year represented, among many other things, a rebuke to the foreign-policy establishment. After a quarter-century of giving “America über Alles” a try, voters opted for a candidate who promised to put “America First.”

That establishment—which Obama administration staffer Ben Rhodes memorably referred to as the “Blob”—now offers a rebuttal of sorts. The rebuttal comes in the form of a report issued by the august Brookings Institution. Bearing the title Building “Situations of Strength,” the document is at once pretentious, proudly nonpartisan, and utterly vacuous. Yet in its way, it is also instructive. Here in a glossy 66-page publication is compelling evidence of the terminal decline now afflicting an establishment whose leading lights fancy themselves as the designated heirs of George C. Marshall and Dean Acheson. To see just how brain dead the Blob has become, Building “Situations of Strength”—hereinafter referred to Building Situations, or simply BS—is an essential text.

Conferring the Washington equivalent of a nihil obstat, Brookings President Strobe Talbott introduces the report, which, in his estimation, “provides a deep dive” and “pulls no punches,” while offering “in-depth analysis” and proposing an “innovative, bipartisan approach” to U.S. foreign policy. Better still, according to Talbott, Building Situations draws on the “immense intellectual capital” available at Brookings and similar institutions nearby.

Yet strip away the clichés and the self-regard and you end up with this: an exercise in avoiding critical engagement with recent U.S. policy failures, offered by a group of like-minded insiders intent on propping up the status quo.

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