masterly inactivity

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masterly inactivity (uncountable)

  1. (politics, public policy) A policy of deliberate inactivity, carried out with diplomatic skill, so as to preserve a predominant influence without risking anything.
    • 1941 March 10, "Peacemongers," Time:
      Majority Leader Alben Barkley had advised patience and silence, to let the isolationists wear themselves out. This plan of masterly inactivity had flopped frightfully.
    • 1990, Peter Hopkirk, The Great Game, Folio Society 2010, p. 256:
      This cautious new approach was to become known as the doctrine of ‘masterly inactivity’, in sharp and obvious contrast to the aggressive ‘forward’ policy which, with such disastrous results in Afghanistan, had preceded it.
    • 1999 Aug. 19, Mark Milner, The Guardian:
      Deep divisions within the Bank of England's monetary policy committee suggest that interest rates are likely to be on hold for a while to come. Whether indecision will translate into masterly inactivity is another matter.