The Bipartisan Nature of the U.S. Foreign Policy Establishment

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In 1944, Senator
William Langer (R-ND) asserted that small groups of u201Cmillionaire
monopolists, international bankers, or crooksu201D were selecting the
presidential nominees of both the Democratic and Republican parties.
In 1951, Congressman Usher Burdick (R-ND) said, u201CBoth old parties
want war and profits and the plain people like you and me have no
means of bringing our vote to account. We will have to support one
or the other of the great party candidates and when both are against
us you can see how powerless we are.u201D Throughout the twentieth century,
statism and imperialism were two other guiding principles of the
U.S. government under both Democrats and Republicans. Today, regardless
of party affiliation or ideological label, virtually all leading
politicians favor u201Ccentral government control over diverse states,
provinces, or regionsu201D and favor u201Ca permanent policy of massive
global intervention by the United States.u201D1
It is obvious that Alexander Hamilton's vision for America has triumphed
over Thomas Jefferson's vision:

The bureaucracy
has become immense; there has been a spectacular rise in centralized
fiscal and industrial power; the governing bodies have added incrementally
to their own governing power; American behavior in the world has
been largely based on standard geopolitical calculations involving
wealth, power, and prestige…2

Many, if not
most, Americans remain Jeffersonian in orientation, but their views
are underrepresented in Washington.3
Political scientist Richard Falk does not exaggerate when he writes,
u201CDisputes between leading Democrats and Republicans are generally
restricted to tactics and nuances. Underlying assumptions are rarely
questioned, and genuine alternatives of policy are almost never

With the end
of the Cold War, announcement of a New World Order, and waging of
the Persian Gulf War, President George Bush Sr. had gone so far
in the direction of internationalism – an unrivaled American
Empire managing the entire world – that a popular reaction
set in among Americans who believed that foreign burdens were multiplying
and domestic concerns were being ignored. When conservative Patrick
Buchanan challenged Bush for renomination on an America First platform,
he was attacked by Vice President Dan Quayle as being a u201Ccloset
liberalu201D la George McGovern with his 1972 slogan u201CCome Home, America.u201D
Democratic leaders temporarily cloaked their Wilson-Humphrey aura
and sounded a quasi-isolationist note in attempting to appeal to
Bill Clinton unseated Bush by stressing unaddressed domestic issues.
During his first term Clinton had more of a domestic focus than
did his predecessor, but his Rhodes scholarship and Council on Foreign
Relations membership were signs of a dormant commitment to an aggressive
internationalist foreign policy. He pursued this agenda during his
second term by intervening in Haiti, attacking Iraq, and waging
wars in Bosnia and Kosovo. Clinton set aside the controversial New
World Order phrase but continued to pursue the goal in a more
discreet fashion. Republicans, who had supported the first war against
Iraq and would later support the second, criticized Clinton for
imperial overreaching and nation building in places having no direct
bearing on national security. Madeleine Albright, a protge of
Humphrey '68 advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, was the first woman to
head the State Department and she did not exemplify the stereotype
of women being more peaceful and less jingoistic than men. Justifying
the 1998 bombing of Iraq, she remarked, u201CIf we have to use force,
it is because we are America. We are the indispensable nation. We
stand tall and we see further into the future.u201D6
The inbred nature of the U.S. foreign policy establishment is illustrated
by the fact that Secretary of State Albright (D) is the daughter
of Josef Korbel, a former diplomat and professor. Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice (R) is also a protge of Korbel.

u201CLiberal internationalismu201D
– the bipartisan, seemingly unchangeable foreign policy of
the United States – is a twentieth-century manifestation of
Hamilton's ideas of governance and international relations. Writing
on the eve of the 1988 election, former Secretaries of State Henry
Kissinger (Nixon-Ford) and Cyrus Vance (Carter) presented the Republican
and Democratic views of foreign policy in the CFR journal Foreign
Affairs. For the sake of convenience, the two parties’ views
were combined into one article. Kissinger and Vance start out by
saying, u201CWe disagree on some policy choices. But we are convinced
that the American national purpose must at some point be fixed.
If it is redefined – or even subject to redefinition –
with every change of administration in Washington, the United States
risks becoming a factor of inconstancy in the world.u201D Speaking for
the bipartisan Power Elite, Kissinger and Vance declare that foreign
policy must be u201Cfixed.u201D Not only do they oppose redefinition of
foreign policy after the American people vote in a presidential
election, but they oppose even the possibility of redefinition.
They do not believe democracy should be allowed to jeopardize u201Cconstancy
in the world.u201D The American people must not be allowed to tamper
with the Hamiltonian status quo.7

In 1989, a
neoconservative primer entitled The
Democratic Imperative: Exporting the American Revolution

was published. According to Richard Nixon's blurb on the book jacket,
u201CIsolationists of both the left and the right will not like Fossedal's
conclusions: that if the Democratic trend is to continue, it will
be because the United States ensures that it does by pursuing an
activist, even interventionist, foreign policy.u201D Who else praised
the book? Republican Jack Kemp and Democrat Al Gore also commended
this work. Both Kemp and Gore had run for their party's presidential
nomination the previous year. Seven years later, these men would
compete against one another as vice-presidential nominees. By the
1990s, Kemp, a u201CNeoconservative,u201D and Gore, a u201CNew Democrat,u201D represented
the bipartisan legacy of Humphrey-Jackson Cold War liberalism. Gore's
words of praise for the Fossedal book – u201Ca forceful analysis of what
American foreign policy should stand for, and how it can prevailu201D
– cast doubt on the widely held assumption that the Iraq War
and broader war on terror would not have occurred after 9/11 had
Gore been in the White House. Given Gore's own neoconservative philosophy,
his support for the first Gulf War, his anti-Iraq stance during
eight years as vice president, and his choosing of hawk Joseph Lieberman
as a running mate, we cannot assume that Gore would not have initiated
an attack on Iraq during his presidency. Or he may have chosen instead
to launch full-blown military intervention into Colombia, a country
linked to both u201Cthe war on drugsu201D and the Gore family's extensive
ties to Occidental Petroleum.8
It is inaccurate to see Gore as a principled opponent of interventionism
or war.

In the mid-1990s,
a Democratic sage, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., warned that if we are
not prepared to pay for a New World Order u201Cin blood as well as in
words and money,u201D we will be left with the u201Canarchy of nation-states,u201D
while a Republican sage, William Kristol, told us that the u201Cappropriate
goalu201D of U.S. foreign policy is the preservation of u201CAmerican hegemonyu201D
so we can continue to fulfill our u201Cresponsibility to lead the world.u201D9
The rsum of Kristol's coauthor, Robert Kagan, could be considered
quintessential for a servant of the Power Elite. All of the usual
suspects are found: Yale, Harvard, Public Interest, Washington
Post, The New Republic, The Weekly Standard, U.S.
Information Agency, State Department, George Pratt Shultz, Carnegie
Endowment for International Peace, Council on Foreign Relations,
Henry Jackson Society, Project for the New American Century, New
World Order, and – appropriately enough – an Alexander
Hamilton fellowship at American University.

A recent jointly
authored article by two Establishment heavyweights continues this
theme. James Schlesinger was Director of the Central Intelligence
Agency and Secretary of Defense under Nixon (R) before becoming
Secretary of Energy under Carter (D). Thomas Pickering was a career
diplomat, with ambassadorial stints in key places such as El Salvador,
Israel, India, and Russia before becoming United Nations Ambassador
under Bush Sr. (R) and Under Secretary of State under Clinton (D).
The ease with which they moved from Republican to Democratic administrations
is indicative of the bipartisan nature of the U.S. foreign policy
establishment. In 2004, they were serving as cochairs of a task
force on postwar Iraq convened by the Council on Foreign Relations.
The full title of their newspaper editorial sums up their advice
to presidential rivals Bush and Kerry: u201CKeep Iraq Above Politics:
Washington Needs to Remain Deeply Engaged in the Postwar Mission
Despite Shifts in American Public Opinion.u201D In other words, politicians
should not allow the people to interfere with policy. Schlesinger
and Pickering write, u201CElection-year politics must not be allowed
to jeopardize the U.S. commitment to security and reconstruction….
It is critical that the shift in the perceptions of the American
public not create a momentum for withdrawal during this election
year. The presidential candidates need to rise above partisanship
and lead on this issue.u201D There was no need to worry. Bush and Kerry
did rise above democracy and they did keep the Iraq issue high on
a shelf (safely tucked away from the childish masses who might have
been tempted to tamper with u201Cvital national security interestsu201D).
That is the elite perspective.10

22, 2007

Taylor [send him mail] is a
political scientist in Rochester, Minnesota. Visit his

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