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Foreign Policy, Inc.: Privatizing America's National Interest

by Lawrence Davidson

Availablecloth$35.00s 978-0-8131-2524-4
Availableweb pdf$35.00s 978-0-8131-7321-4
Availableepub$35.00s 978-0-8131-3864-0
184 pages  Pubdate: 01/01/2009  6 x 9 x .75  0

Elected officials, and especially presidential candidates, increasingly are asked to define their relationships to special interest groups. Such special, or private, interests play a disproportionate role in politics and legislation, whether in the form of large commercial or ethnic lobbies or in the shadowy realm of backroom dealmaking. In Foreign Policy, Inc.: Privatizing America’s National Interest, Lawrence Davidson argues that widespread public disinterest in global affairs, a prevailing characteristic of American political culture, has given private interest groups a paramount influence over the formulation and implementation of U.S. foreign policy. These well-organized, well-funded groups affect all levels of government, disguising their own interests as vital national interests. Davidson draws from numerous historical examples, dating from America’s founding to the present, to examine the causes and the serious consequences of Americans’ apathy toward foreign policy. This unique historical analysis of our increasingly privatized system of government offers compelling evidence that the United States is a democracy not of individuals, but of competing and powerful private groups.

Most Americans assume that U.S. foreign policy is determined by democratically elected leaders who define and protect the common good of the citizens and the nation they represent. Increasingly, this conventional wisdom falls short of explaining the real climate in Washington. Well organized private-interest groups are capitalizing on Americans’ ignorance of world politics to advance their own agendas. Supported by vast economic resources and powerful lobbyists, these groups thwart the constitutional checks and balances designed to protect the U.S. political system, effectively bullying or buying our national leaders. Lawrence Davidson traces the history, evolution, and growing influence of these private organizations from the nation’s founding to the present, and he illuminates their profoundly disturbing impact on the direction of U.S. foreign policy. Foreign Policy, Inc.: Privatizing America’s National Interest demonstrates how economic interest groups once drove America’s westward expansion and designed the nation’s overseas imperial policies. Using the contemporary Cuba and Israel lobbies as examples, Davidson then describes the emergence of political lobbies in the twentieth century and shows how diverse groups with competing ethnic and religious agendas began to organize and shape American priorities abroad. Despite the troubling influence of these specialized lobbies, many Americans remain indifferent to the hijacking of American foreign policy. Americans’ focus on local events and their lack of interest in international affairs renders them susceptible to media manipulation and prevents them from holding elected officials accountable for their ties to lobbies. Such mass indifference magnifies the power of these wealthy special interest groups and permits them to create and implement American foreign policy. The result is that the global authority of the United States is weakened, its integrity as an international leader is compromised, and its citizens are endangered. Debilitated by two wars, a tarnished global reputation, and a plummeting economy, Americans, Davidson insists, can no longer afford to ignore the realities of world politics. On its current path, he predicts, America will cease to be a commonwealth of individuals but instead will become an amoral assembly of competing interest groups whose policies and priorities place the welfare of the nation and its citizens in peril.

Lawrence Davidson is professor of history at West Chester University. He is the author of numerous books, including Islamic Fundamentalism and America’s Palestine: Popular and Official Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood.

"This is a comprehensive, well-developed, extensively documented study illuminating the fallacies in American foreign policy. It represents a major contribution to our knowledge and understanding of one of the most important aspects of foreign policy, i.e. the historical role of domestic lobbies in the policy making process."--Cheryl Rubenberg, author of Israel and the American National Interest: A Critical Examination -- Cheryl Rubenberg

“One sees why this book is scheduled for January. Otherwise the tsunami of public indignation at this revelation could well disrupt the election.” -- Inside Higher Ed

“In this well-researched and highly-readable work, Professor Davidson has drawn from a wide variety of historical sources and examples to demonstrate how a vast network of private interests, mostly tied to larger corporate structures, has succeeded in hijacking U.S. foreign and military policy to the detriment of any rational public agenda. This tragic state of affairs has been made possible, Davidson argues, because public apathy regarding global issues has been steadily increasing. Foreign Policy, Inc. is strongly recommended reading for scholars, politicians, journalists, and others interested in the American role in world politics today.”— Carl Boggs, author of Imperial Delusions andco-author of The Hollywood War Machine. -- Carl Boggs

Serves as a useful corrective to conservative mythmaking regarding US foreign policy, past and present. Recommended. -- Choice

Davidson takes it a step further...his conclusions he lays directly in front of the doors of all of us. -- Steve Goddard's History Wire