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The Case for Complacency

Author:  Tanisha M. Fazal

Affiliation: University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, USA

Organization/Publisher: Foreign Affairs

Date/Place: September/October 2021/USA

Type of Literature: Article

Word Count: 1934 


Keywords: Foreign Policy, US Security, John Mueller


The author presents the views of political scientist John Mueller from his latest book, to answer how the United States should respond to international crises. According to Mueller, America should not aim for a transformation but for “complacency,” which Mueller describes as “minimally effortful national strategy in the security realm.” Mueller argues that the idea of ​​significant wars has become virtually obsolete and that the US foreign policy establishment is prone to panic, is disproportionate in identifying potential threats, and then counterproductive in taking action against them. One of the first scholars to argue that war is in retreat, Mueller compiles reams of historical evidence to chronicle a series of errors in American foreign policy from the Vietnam War to the invasion of Iraq. Current discussions about US grand strategy are dominated by figures with “deep anxiety” about the sustainability of the liberal international order and by others who advocate for limited humanitarian interventions in the face of atrocities abroad. The US must stop overestimating threats—particularly the threat of war. For now, at the least, the United States must reduce its military, resist temptations from outside interference, and redirect its time and money toward preserving American democracy.


By: Taqwa Abu Kmeil, CIGA Research Assistant



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