In parliamentary democracies, a "shadow government" is a group of like-minded policymakers who have served in government before and who now find themselves outside it. In that spirit, this is a blog about U.S. foreign policy, written by people who've previously had a hand in making it. Our commentary and analysis reflects our experience in government and the practical knowledge we've gleaned from it (not always the easy way). We discuss foreign policy with an intimate familiarity of the imperfections and complications, the tradeoffs and unintended consequences that inevitably occur when dealing with the world as it is, not as one wishes it to be. And we also discuss the many hard problems facing the United States today with an appreciation for the limits of the country's power, but also for its enduring potential to shape events for the better.
As the name of this blog also suggests, its authors share a point of view -- that, generally speaking, of a loyal opposition. Political labels like liberal and conservative feel a bit awkward when applied to debates about foreign policy. So let's just say that, as the United States continues on with Barack Obama's administration, the authors of this blog weren't among the 300 (or more) policymakers waiting by the phone for a job offer from the transition team. But just as we sought out many of them for a different viewpoint when we were in government, we hope they'll find value in us calling things as we see them from the outside.
Many of us served at one point or another in George W. Bush's administration. Some here advised Republican John McCain's presidential campaign in 2008, and some will likely advise another Republican campaign in 2012. Still, this blog has no party line. Its focus is policy, not politics. And it's not in the business of criticizing merely for criticism's sake. Indeed, we expect to disagree with each other as freely as we disagree with the current administration. What unites the individual authors of this blog are ideas and principles about America's role in the world, which we will spell out in the time to come, and which guides our thinking about the many complex and different facets of U.S. foreign policy in the 21st century.
So, Shadow Government has three goals: 1) to provide you, our readers, with a respectful and nuanced assessment of the Obama administration's foreign policy; 2) to offer, where we find points or policies to disagree with, what we think is a responsible alternative course of action; and 3) to defend the Obama administration, as fellow foreign-policy professionals, when good decisions they make are misunderstood or unfairly criticized.
We are critical at times, but we always seek to be civil and constructive. We occasionally find fault, but we always do so in good faith. And we do all of this with the goal of elevating the discourse on U.S. foreign policy, as much as one blog can. We hope you find it interesting.
Photo: PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images
Shadow Government is a blog about U.S. foreign policy under the Obama administration, written by experienced policy makers from the loyal opposition and curated by Peter D. Feaver and William Inboden.