The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

Here is something you can’t understand….

March 6, 2012


…How I could just kill a man!

Obama said today, or at least I think it was today, that “we have Israel’s back.” So have we replaced the cowboy swagger bullshit with some urban swagger bullshit? Fo shizzle.

In general, I object to any dumbing down of foreign policy, even in the public discourse, and I don’t really think Presidents did this before. This seems to be a modern phenomenon. But now, apparently even Obama feels the need to talk in this over-simplistic way. Ladies and gentlemen, President B-Real. If only that were a blunt he is smoking. Add the 40, and away we go!

I always hated the popularization of this phrase because it reflects a worldview of ‘us against them’ and is applied to situations in which violence is not really at issue. I don’t need my colleagues to “have my back” in a faculty meeting. I might like their support but they need not bring the Gat.

I like Obama’s foreign policy by and large because it is a foreign policy for adults. So let’s lose the dumb ‘hood slang.

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Rathbun is a professor of International Relations at USC. Brian Rathbun received his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley in 2002 and has taught at USC since 2008. He has written four solo-authored books, on humanitarian intervention, multilateral institution building, diplomacy and rationality. His articles have appeared or are forthcoming in International Organization, International Security, World Politics, International Studies Quartlery, the Journal of Politics, Security Studies, the European Journal of International Relations, International Theory, and the Journal of Conflict Resolution among others. He is the recipient of the 2009 USC Parents Association Teaching and Mentoring Award. In 2019 he will be recognized as a Distinguished Scholar by the Diplomatic Studies Section of the International Studies Association.