Why has American been at war for the entire 21st century?
What accounts for the reality of “endless wars,” a phrase that even President Biden used to justify U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan?
One obvious answer is that the Washington foreign policymaking class–a community now known as “the Blob” to critics–favors military interventions and rejects non-military solutions. Defenders of U.S. foreign policy in the 21st century deny they are “a blob” and say the critics are just carping. They have no realistic alternative, it is said.
Robert Wright, the blogger who has done much to popularize the term, responds cogently in his highly recommended NonZero web site and newsletter. (Sign up here.)
But the truth is that “the Blob” is a useful term with a coherent meaning. At least, it’s as useful as many other common foreign policy labels, such as “liberal internationalists” and “neoconservatives.” Both of these labels encompass people who don’t agree on everything. In fact, it’s hard to find any belief that all people in either of those two categories share that isn’t shared by a fair number of people in the other category. As the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein pointed out, this kind of fuzziness is characteristic of the labels we use to organize reality. There’s no distinctive property, he noted by way of example, that is shared by all the things we call “games.”
Yet we have a working understanding of what we mean by “games.” I think we can achieve the same for “Blob.” And I think we must! I’m not kidding when I say I believe the Blob is a grave threat to America’s and the world’s future. (Which isn’t to say that blobsters are bad people; like most human beings, they mean well.)