• 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
    advocated.u201D4

    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
    voters.5
    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

    January
    22, 2007

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

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