Unabashed Brain Picking

Or, a bleg

Folks, I have a problem.

I’m trying to describe how American policy makers, as a group, moved from thinking and acting as if China was the (pre-1969) moon, to thinking and acting as if China were a real, reachable place where the U.S. had national interests and, importantly, the ability to protect or advance those interests in China.

(Analogous situations might include the climate change issue — where we are not quite yet at the turning point — or, indeed, the post-Sputnik shift in talking about landing on the moon.)

Here’s the problem: right now, all I can think to say is that China “became real” or China issues “became concrete.”

This is unacceptable — not just because those are ugly circumlocutions, but also because I’ve got a hunch that there is probably an actual (poli sci? soc?) term for this kind of phenomenon.

So I turn to you, dearest colleagues of the world wide interwebs. Any thoughts? Am I fretting over nothing?

Image Cite: Curious Expeditions, “Brains,” Flickr, CC License