International relations theorist explains how to handle zombies

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Dec 14, 2012, 4:31 PM EST

We all know how a guy like George Romero would handle a zombie uprising, but as much as we like his zombie flicks, we're not entirely sure we can draw real-world advice from his grisly plots. So what does Foreign Policy—a magazine more known for its sober analysis of the war in Iraq than the war against the living dead—have to say about how to handle the apocalypse?

Daniel W. Drezner, professor of international politics at Tufts University and author of the book Theories of International Politics and Zombies, lays out in his article "Night of the Living Wonks" how the world will REALLY react when those graves begin to open.

How much would international politics be affected? Surprisingly, not much. At least not according to Drezner:

How would the introduction of flesh-eating ghouls affect world politics? The realist answer is simple if surprising: International relations would be largely unaffected. Although some would see in a zombie invasion a new existential threat to the human condition, realists would be unimpressed by the claim that the zombies' arrival would lead to any radical change in human behavior. To them, a plague of the undead would merely echo older plagues, from the Black Death of the 14th century to the 1918 influenza pandemic. To paraphrase Thucydides, the realpolitik of zombies is that the strong will do what they can and the weak must suffer devouring by reanimated, ravenous corpses.

However, the zombie plague might be used as an excuse for governments to engage in the actions they've been wanting to take for years:

The People's Republic of China could use the zombie threat to justify an occupation of Taiwan. Russia could use the same excuse to justify intervention in its near abroad. The United States would not be immune from the temptation to exploit the zombie threat as a strategic opportunity. How large would the army of the Cuban undead need to be to justify the deployment of the 82nd Airborne?

Drezner's final message for all of us worrying about living in a post-zombie world is—don't:

The reduction of the zombie problem to one of many manageable threats, however, is quite likely. Most countries would kill most zombies most of the time. ...

In the end, what I am suggesting is that with careful planning and a consistent approach, the zombie threat can be managed.

Considering how well containing that Gulf oil spill has been working so far, I'm not sure I can feel as confident as he is about it. But for more real-world zombie analysis, check out Drezner's complete article.

(via graspingforthewind)