Marc Lynch‘s Foreign Policy piece on Jay-Z V. The Game and foreign policy. The snippet at the end:
So what does Jay-Z do? If he hits back hard in public, the Game will gain in publicity even if he loses… the classic problem of a great power confronted by a smaller annoying challenger. And given his demonstrated skills and talent, and his track record against G-Unit, the Game may well score some points. At the least, it would bring Jay-Z down to his level — bogging him down in an asymmetric war negating the hegemon’s primary advantages. If Jay-Z tries to use his structural power to kill Game’s career (block him from releasing albums or booking tour dates or appearing at the Grammy Awards), it could be seen as a wimpy and pathetic operation — especially since it would be exposed on Twitter and the hip hop blogs.
The Realist advice? His best hope is probably to sit back and let the Game self-destruct, something of which he’s quite capable (he’s already backing away from the hit on Beyonce) — while working behind the scenes to maintain his own alliance structure and to prevent any defections over to the Game’s camp. And it seems that thus far, that’s exactly what he’s doing. We’ll see if that’s a winning strategy…. or if he’s just biding his time getting ready for a counter-attack. Either way, I’ve succeeded in wasting a lot of time so… mission accomplished!
One thing worth noting is that even when restraint can be identified as the best strategy, it’s often emotionally difficult to choose this path. When someone comes after you, you get angry. You want to respond in an intelligent and effective manner, yes, but there’s also a desire to do something that will make you feel better. And lashing out as per the Ledeen Doctrine (”Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business”) often can achieve that goal. And of course there’s a risk that members of Jay-Z’s camp who urge a policy of restraint will be accused of actively harboring pro-Game sympathies or otherwise failing to manifest a sufficient degree of loyalty.
That may be the modern realist’s advice, but I’d imagine that Kissingerian Realist would advise Jay-Z to identify and strengthen potential third-party agents against The Game. That way, if a conflict becomes necessary, it can be a proxy conflict, thus limiting Jay-Z’s vulnerability. And given Jay-Z’s hegemonic role in the hip-hop world, there are plenty of talented rappers who’d happily take up his battles in return for his eventual favor.
In his treatise on the lessons from the beef between Jay-Z and The Game for American foreign policy, Marc Lynch has just uncorked what has to be one of the most ridiculously awesome blog posts in memory. Despite my West Coast roots, I’m rooting for the “superpower” Jay-Z over the “insurgent” The Game. In counterinsurgency terms, I guess that’s kind of like a Sunni insurgent joining the Sons of Iraq.
Zach Baron in the Village Voice
So it’s telling that Jay-Z’s response was not only to attack Auto-Tune, but to declare it dead. He unfurled his Mission Accomplished banner at the moment of invasion. That revealed a point that needs to be central to Marc’s argument: as a hegemon, Jay-Z is not a status quo power. He’s a counterrevolutionary actor. “I might wear black for a year straight/ I might bring back Versace shades,” Jay-Z says, daring others to disobey. The substance of his attack was to complain that Auto-Tune is an illegitimate artistic move. As I contended way back when, this is an uncomfortable argument from authenticity. And it creates a potential hinge moment for Jay-Z’s hegemony. Rappers who use Auto-Tune after “D.O.A.” will be unavoidably challenging Jay-Z. Seen through this lens, The Game isn’t the point — he’s a symptom of a problem Jay-Z has created for himself. It won’t be responding to Game that digs Jay into the sandbox. He’s already in the sandbox. Responding to Game will exacerbate the problem, not create it.
UPDATE: Marc Lynch has around-up of commentary around the blogosphere. Some of his finds:
Chris Good in the Atlantic:
What’s relevant about the analogy is that Obama has spent considerable energy forging good relationships so far, so that not even a typical middle-power-level adversary like Chavez will go after him. But he will probably, at some point, have to decide whether to respond when someone like The Game takes a shot. Like Hova, Obama can do some damage in a battle–witness his debates and speeches vs. John McCain.
Obama foundered in the eyes of some when Iran cracked down on protesters and accused the U.S. of meddling. They wanted to see him take out the big rhetorical stick and whack the Iranian regime with the full force of his linguistic skill. The next time a world leader provokes Obama, he’ll likely face the same pressure to use his skills as the undisputed king of freestyle–but he, like Jay-Z, will probably begin with coalition building and restraint.
Judah Grunstein at WPR
Jonathan Wallace guest-blogging at the Washington Note:
Here, Jay-Z has taken the position used to such great effect by Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign (with Auto-tuning standing in for the Bush Doctrine). Jay-Z has forcefully come out against something that – while popular for a bit – was surely unsustainable as a creative force in music.
Just as Obama did while running as the anti-Bush foreign policy candidate, Jay-Z has made himself the face of the anti-auto tune movement and will surely get credit for its imminent demise.
Meanwhile, many tenets of the Bush Doctrine were being phased out or had already been eliminated by the time the general election rolled around. Obama has reaped the rewards (more internationally than domestically) of the end of the Bush Doctrine even though many of Bush’s policies would have been phased out with or without Obama.
Both Jay-Z and Barack Obama shrewdly pounced at the right moment to announce the death of a trend/policy that had already worn out its welcome. For Obama, it helped propel him to leader of the free world. For Jay-Z, it may help cement his status as leader of the hip hop world.
UPDATE: Via Matt Y., Voxy has The Game commenting on the Lynch piece.
Spencer Ackerman, in entirety, gives us The Game’s comments and his thoughts:
Speaking to an interviewer in New Zealand, The Game proves to be susceptible to mission creep:
In a recent Foreign Policy article, George Washington University Professor Marc Lynch, likened the feud to the battle of global hegemony — with Jay Z in the role of the United States, and The Game as the “erratic wildcard”: Iran and North Korea.
The Game asks for an explanation of why that’s not a favourable comparison, before likening Lynch to Greenland — isolated from the top writers in the world — and Jay Z to Iceland “coz he’s gone cold”.
I suppose if you’re determined to be a villain it’s justifiable to suggest that it’s not so bad to be Iran or North Korea. But this is a great example of why The Game can’t win the fight he’s begun and can only hope Jay-Z brings defeat unto himself through blunders: Marc is a goddamn Game fan! In every one of these posts about the feud-as-international-relations-theory, he’s defended The Game’s lyrical skills. He even did so in his NPR interview.
In other words, The Game is treating a reconcilable as an irreconcilable. He’s like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi! Marc Lynch is a middle-class, fence-sitting Sunni Iraqi — surely an academic — in Diyala or Anbar or Baghdad, judiciously able to see both sides of the U.S. and AQI feud and not particularly inclined to throw his lot in decisively with one or the other. And here’s The Game, trying to humiliate Marc in public for apostasy or cut his fingers off because he enjoys a cigarette. Defeat sets in right there. Soon will begin Marc Lynch’s Awakening. Which is a good name for a mixtape.
Also, The Game responded to Marc!