Introduction

The name of this website is borrowed from Reinhold Niebuhr’s pamphlet The Irony of American History, one of the shrewdest and most thoughtful pieces addressing the ill-advised attempts of the United States to reshape the international community in its own image. Originally delivered over two lecture series, Niebuhr used the phase “managing history” to note the strand in the American character to assume the ability to break with historical processes and start anew. The belief that man is capable of engineering future events despite the heavy weight of history, when combined with an extraordinarily amount of wealth and power, can lead to hubris and perilous unintended consequences. Niebuhr wrote in an attempt to warn of such prospects taking shape post World War II.

Most of my thinking on international affairs is informed by my belief that there is no natural arch to human history and that the west is unique, not universal. That the proper way of framing most international dilemmas is not as a compromise between the status quo and progress but between stability and instability. I assume cultural values don’t easily map to policy outcomes and that American foreign policy over-appreicates the utility of hard power. These assumptions translate into a position that a foreign policy of restraint is best suited for pursing American core interests and that the promotion of liberal values is most successful when modeled at home.

I expect to mostly discuss international affairs. Other topics that I expect to comment on will be economics and American politics.

I have a MA in economics from George Mason. Prior to moving to Beijing, I was a Mathematical Statistician for the Census Bureau.

Thanks for stopping by.

-Brian

September 14, 2016.