Right Web

Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

The Privatization Of U.S. Foreign Policy

The unethical blurring of private interests and public business, which increasingly involves U.S. foreign policy, is a hallmark of Donald Trump’s presidency.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

 

Lobelog

 

The unethical blurring of private interests and public business is a hallmark of Donald Trump’s presidency. That blurring has increasingly involved U.S. foreign policy. The possible effects on U.S. foreign relations may be subtle and largely out of public view. But they arise every time, for example, that foreign governments wanting something from the United States bring their business to the hotel that Trump’s company runs a few blocks from the White House.

The blurring was more openly displayed this week as Donald Trump Jr. traveled to India—with security provided by the U.S. Secret Service, assisted by the U.S. embassy—to drum up business involving the Trump Organization’s real estate endeavors. Sales reportedly have been good, aided by the chance to rub elbows with the U.S. president’s son if prospective buyers paid a $38,000 booking fee toward a Trump high-rise project south of New Delhi. The mixing of public policy and private business was scheduled to go even farther, with the younger Trump to give a speech on “Reshaping Indo-Pacific Ties: The New Era of Cooperation” at a conference just before Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was to speak at the same podium. But this bit of mixing was too blatant for even the Trumps to blow off the criticism, and Junior instead substituted a different sort of public appearance.

Presidential daughter Ivanka Trump currently is in South Korea, for the close of the Winter Olympics. Kim Yo-jong, sister of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, got much attention as “North Korea’s Ivanka” when she was in the south for the opening of the games. Now the real Ivanka, if true to form, will be mixing public and private business again. Her past involvement with the East Asia region has entailed the leveraging of official contacts to benefit sales of her brand of jewelry and accessories.

The intrusion of private interests into U.S. foreign policy under this administration is not limited to the Trumps’ own commercial interests. The latest news on this subject is that casino magnate Sheldon Adelson is offering to pay for the construction of a U.S. embassy in Jerusalem. Such an offer constitutes a sort of bonus to show Adelson’s satisfaction with how his earlier large financial contributions to Trump’s campaign helped to buy the president’s decision to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This move was a personal goal of Adelson, based on a personal affinity with Israel that exceeds any affinity he has with the United States. Looked at from the standpoint of U.S. interests rather than private interests, the move was a huge mistake. It isolated the United States and dealt a major blow to any remaining hope for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Many processes are in play here, including the power of well-known lobbies and the role of money in U.S. politics. But as with any of Trump’s excesses, it’s an extreme manifestation of a trend that became pronounced during the last two decades—the era of the Tea Party and of the Gingrich style of scorched-earth political warfare—away from the concept of “general welfare” embodied in the preamble of the U.S. Constitution. This trend involves the rejection of any idea that some of the most important things that citizens do and experience, and some of the most important ways in which their interests are affected, can only be done as a community—and that in many cases community necessarily means government.

This trend is most apparent on domestic matters. It is seen in the tearing down of a health-care system without any adequate replacement. It is seen in the depleting of the public treasury without regard for the down-the-road fiscal implications. It is seen in a rejection of Oliver Wendell Holmes’s observation that taxes are what we pay for civilized society. It is seen in the every-man-for-himself approach to gun violence that calls for arming schoolteachers and goodness knows whom else.

It wasn’t always this way. Much in American history has been an embrace of the common interest and, per the Constitution’s preamble, a promotion of the general welfare. The policies involved have included not just the likes of the New Deal and the Great Society, and they have come from the right as well as the left. The history has run from Alexander Hamilton’s industrial policy to Henry Clay’s American System to Dwight Eisenhower’s interstate highway system. Today what passes for an “infrastructure plan” is mostly an invitation to states and localities to spend money they don’t have.

The corollary in foreign policy is a rejection of the concept that the United States has important, continuing interests that all U.S. citizens share and that must be vigorously defended and represented to the outside world, and with regard to which any one group of office-holders is only a temporary steward. Rejection of this concept leads to the casual mixing of foreign policy and private business interests. It leads to the selling of major foreign policy decisions to the highest bidder. It leads to a president expressing nonchalance about many senior-level vacancies because “I’m the only one that matters.” It leads to devastation of the State Department’s budget and of the department’s ability to represent and defend vigorously U.S. interests before the outside world.

Given these prevailing attitudes and given the penury being forced on the State Department, perhaps a future step in the privatization of U.S. foreign policy will be the selling of naming rights. Maybe the building to be erected in Jerusalem will have a sign in front identifying it as the “Sheldon Adelson Embassy” or, along the lines of most naming rights deals, the “Las Vegas Sands Embassy.”

Share RightWeb

Featured Profiles

Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts and two-time failed presidential candidate, is a foreign policy hawk with neoconservative leanings who appears set to become the next senator from Utah.


Vin Weber, a former Republican congressman and longtime “superlobbyist” who has supported numerous neoconservative advocacy campaigns, has become embroiled in the special prosecutor’s investigation into the Donald Trump campaign’s potential collusion with Russia during the 2016 presidential election.


Jon Lerner is a conservative political strategist and top adviser to US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley. He was a key figure in the “Never Trump” Campaign, which appears to have led to his being ousted as Vice President Mike Pence’s national security adviser.


Pamela Geller is a controversial anti-Islam activist who has founded several “hate groups” and likes to repeat debunked myths, including about the alleged existence of “no-go” Muslim zones in Europe.


Max Boot, neoconservative military historian at the Council on Foreign Relations, on Trump and Russia: “At every turn Trump is undercutting the ‘get tough on Russia’ message because he just can’t help himself, he just loves Putin too much.”


Although overlooked by President Trump for cabinet post, Gingrich has tried to shape affairs in the administration, including by conspiring with government officials to “purge the State Department of staffers they viewed as insufficiently loyal” to the president.


Former Sen Mark Kirk (R-IL) is an advisor for United Against Nuclear Iran. He is an outspoken advocate for aggressive action against Iran and a fierce defender of right-wing Israeli policies.


For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Other than the cynical political interests in Moscow and Tehran, there is no conceivable rationale for wanting Bashar al-Assad to stay in power. But the simple fact is, he has won the war. And while Donald Trump has reveled in positive press coverage of the recent attacks on the country, it is clear that they were little more than a symbolic act.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The reality is that the Assad regime is winning the Syrian civil war, and this matters far less to U.S. interests than it does to that regime or its allies in Russia and Iran, who see Syria as their strongest and most consistent entrée into the Arab world. Those incontrovertible facts undermine any notion of using U.S. military force as leverage to gain a better deal for the Syrian people.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

An effective rhetorical tool to normalize military build-ups is to characterize spending increases “modernization.”


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The Pentagon has officially announced that that “long war” against terrorism is drawing to a close — even as many counterinsurgency conflicts  rage across the Greater Middle East — and a new long war has begun, a permanent campaign to contain China and Russia in Eurasia.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Revelations that data-consulting firm Cambridge Analytica used ill-gotten personal information from Facebook for the Trump campaign masks the more scandalous reality that the company is firmly ensconced in the U.S. military-industrial complex. It should come as no surprise then that the scandal has been linked to Erik Prince, co-founder of Blackwater.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

As the United States enters the second spring of the Trump era, it’s creeping ever closer to more war. McMaster and Mattis may have written the National Defense Strategy that over-hyped the threats on this planet, but Bolton and Pompeo will have the opportunity to address these inflated threats in the worst way possible: by force of arms.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

We meet Donald Trump in the media every hour of every day, which blots out much of the rest of the world and much of what’s meaningful in it.  Such largely unexamined, never-ending coverage of his doings represents a triumph of the first order both for him and for an American cult of personality.


RightWeb
share