Introducing Maine Meets World, a blog about how international news affects our state

The term “foreign policy” evokes too much distance. Other phrases mixing the words “foreign,” “international,” and “diplomatic” with “affairs” and “relations” all have a similar effect. The words somehow convey a sense of dealing with others for the sake of others. At their worst, the phrases also imply little agency on behalf of the interested public; they are things handled by stuffy old-school men meeting alternately in bunkers and ornate state dining rooms. Other than the nationality of the newest James Bond villain, it can be hard to find ways that foreign policy, for all the fuss, actually impacts our daily lives.

But it does. And in the abstract, we all know it does now more than ever. The problem is that these are vague, intangible topics that, like many things, are frequently discussed as if everyone understands them because no one understands them. Men in ornate state dining rooms must be professionals at this.

The obscurity represents a real missed opportunity. A look at global issues offers so many answers to questions of “why?” at the local level. Why is the Maine timber industry disappearing? Why have there suddenly been so many heroin deaths? Why are heating oil prices so low this year? Many opaque events such as these can be at least partially related to global happenings (and will be the subject of future posts). The dots are often there in the news, but are too often left disconnected. The purpose of this blog, quite simply, will be to connect some of them. Some posts will be about international trends directly impacting the state and some will purely be to compare communities and systems in Maine to counterparts abroad. Whatever the topic at hand, I hope the blog as a whole can do a small part to make foreign policy a little less foreign.

With that, I welcome you to Maine Meets World. If you have any suggestions for topics, feel free to leave them in a comment. You can find the about page here.

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Phoenix McLaughlin

About Phoenix McLaughlin

Phoenix McLaughlin works at the National Endowment for Democracy helping to foster political development in Asia. Phoenix lives in Washington, D.C. now, but was born and raised in Norway, Maine. In between, he has studied and/or worked in Colorado, Nepal, India, France, Ethiopia, and Augusta. All opinions expressed on this blog are solely his own and do not represent his current or former employers.