Foreign Policy for Children

Many years ago, it occurred to me to try teaching foreign policy in preschool.

In a typical preschool, anywhere on Earth, when children have disputes, there can be pushing, shoving, crying, screaming, and all sorts of unpleasantness. The teacher cannot always know what happened from the beginning. He or she may only see the ending. The general theory is that first one must stop any physical altercation, next comfort each child, and finally — when things have calmed down — teach each child to use words instead of violence, to apologize, to compromise, to make friends and figure out a way to share a mutually desired toy or otherwise to get along well going forward. Way down the list of priorities is figuring out who started it or did the worst of it.

This struck me as extremely misguided, and I decided to try applying foreign policy instead. With the agreement of an excellent facility, I began teaching a class in a new style. Whenever there was a dispute between two children, I would pick the child I liked best and encourage him or her to hit harder. I kept a plastic baseball bat in my hand at all times, just to be prepared, and I would give this to the favored child, urging him or her to bash the other child in the head with it. While they were doing that, I would round up all the children who were not involved and inform them that if they did not begin chanting “Death to Bobby” (or whatever the second child’s name was) they would never see a snack again in their lives.

In this way, disputes were quickly resolved, with one child reduced to helpless sobbing, and the other child getting their way (total use of the toy or whatever). Then I would gather the whole class and review with them our key lessons: the child I supported did nothing wrong and had been innocently attacked; words do not work as well as violence; compromise is treason; and weapons make all the difference.*

There was resistance to my new methods, as there usually is to progress. I was told that I was going against the most basic values of pretty much all of humanity. For a while I held off the naysayers by pointing out to them the complete alignment of my methods with those of the U.S. State Department. I was giving lessons, I said, worthy of those a British Prime Minister might give to a President of Ukraine. But bad luck proved the undoing of my school. Some children became ill. A couple of families moved away. There were a few nutty lawsuits. One mother killed herself.

Years later, the little alumni of my only foray into teaching preschool were all grown up and scattered across the United States. I tried looking some of them up on facebook and was rather stunned by what I found. I think that what I found vindicates everything I did. I searched thoroughly and discovered that 82% of the still-living alumni of my foreign policy preschool are now members of the United States Congress.


*I later added an additional lesson: Satire is the work of the devil and worse than mass slaughter.

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