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Fear not!

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Foreign policy professionals and the reporters who cover them have a natural bias towards seeing the world as a dangerous place. After all, if your assessment of a country or an issue is "mostly harmless" (as the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy famously described our planet), you're going to lose your audience and some of your funding. I'm not saying this is a conscious decision (at least not in most cases), but fear is to foreign policy as sex is to advertising and Hollywood: It sells.

Micah Zenko and Michael Cohen do a good job of revealing this bias -- and how far it is from reality -- in a recent article in Foreign Affairs.

They point to a survey that shows that 69 percent of the members of the Council on Foreign Relations (the definition of the foreign policy establishment) feel the world is as or more dangerous for the US than it was during the Cold War and recent statements from politicians. Near-certain Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney says the world is growing ever more perilous and President Barack Obama's Defense Secretary Leon Panetta appears to agree, saying in a speech last year that "security, geopolitical, economic, and demographic shifts in the international order (are making) the world more unpredictable, more volatile and, yes, more dangerous."

Yet by every objective measure the world at large is remarkably safe by historical standards. Why the love of fear? Zenko and Cohen argue:


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