Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Is American foreign policy for sale to the highest-bidding hawk?

By Daniel W. Drezner August 19 at 9:03 AM, WashPost

Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at Tufts University and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Last week Peter Beinart threw down a pretty provocative argument about the hawkish foreign policy rhetoric coming from the crop of potential 2016 presidential candidates, particularly Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). According to Beinart, they’re in it for the money, and the money wants a more hawkish foreign policy:
It’s worth analyzing the current moment in historical perspective. For a century, Americans have responded to disillusioning wars by demanding a less interventionist foreign policy. It happened after World War 1, after Korea, after Vietnam, and it’s happening again in the wake of Afghanistan and Iraq. The difference between this moment and past ones is the role of money in politics. As on so many issues, politicians’ need to raise vast sums from the super-rich makes them ultra-responsive to one, distinct sliver of the population and less responsive to everyone else. The way campaign finance warps the political debate over financial regulation is well known. What we’re witnessing this year is a case study in the way it warps the foreign-policy debate as well.

In 2008, Obama was elected president in part because he had deviated from a hawkish, largely bipartisan, elite foreign-policy perspective that facilitated the war in Iraq. Six years later, Obama is still deviating, and so are the American people. Yet the elite consensus is stronger than ever, and in the run-up to 2016, that consensus — more than public opinion — is driving the presidential debate. No wonder Americans are cynical.
(More here.)

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