Part 2

excerpted from the book

Ruling America

a history of wealth and power in a democracy

by Steve Fraser and Gary Gerstle

Harvard University Press, 2005, paperback

For three-quarters of the twentieth century, from the Spanish-American War to the end of the Vietnam War, the foreign policy of the United States was decisively influenced by a comparatively small group of men who belonged to what has been loosely but usefully called the American foreign policy Establishment.

There were five major acts in the history of the foreign policy Establishment. Its origins in the First World War introduced its cast of characters, its institutions, and its ethos. (Its prehistory, indeed, lay in the Theodore Roosevelt circle, and particularly in the character and ideas of Elihu Root, who combined a successful corporate law practice in New York with devotion to the honor and greatness of the United States as well as to the ideals of arbitration and cooperation in international affairs.) The second was its success in the so-called Great Debate over American involvement in World War ii-successful at least in the sense that Pearl Harbor made the U.S. belligerency that the Establishment advocated inevitable. The third, and perhaps most identified with the core of the Establishment, was leadership in the organization of the nation at war with the Axis, and especially in the development of and the decision to use the atomic bomb. Fourth was the Establishment's advocacy of a middle course of containment in the Cold War. And the fifth act was the fatal extension of Cold War containment and counterinsurgency force to the developing world and especially to Vietnam.

At the end of the Gilded Age, an American upper class had emerged, headquartered in the Northeast, especially in New York and Boston, but national in influence. Its base was in industrial wealth and in the financial sector, but its members took pains to distinguish themselves from mere business spokesmen. They were usually products of elite boarding schools, colleges, and professional schools, especially law schools, and in practice of a very small number of schools, colleges, and graduate schools. Over and over again in the biographies of the men (and they were almost all men) who directed American foreign policy from the 1900 to the 1960s the same few names recur.

Among the boarding schools, it was Phillips Andover (Stimson's school); Groton (Acheson's and Harriman's, and indeed Franklin Roosevelt's); St. Paul's in Concord, New Hampshire, where the diplomat and Soviet expert Charles E. Bohlen was educated and so was the CIA official Cord Meyer; and the Hill School, near Philadelphia, alma mater of Robert Lovett and (much later) of George H. W. Bush's secretary of state, James Baker.

Among universities it was not even the whole of the Ivy League but preeminently Harvard, Yale, and Princeton; among graduate schools it was Harvard Law, Yale Law, sometimes Columbia, and only occasionally great middle western universities like Michigan and Wisconsin.

Indeed, it is startling to discover how many of the key figures in managing America's foreign relations were not just undergraduates at Yale but members of a single secret senior society there, Skull and Bones. This bizarre institution still maintains a gloomy "tomb" on the Yale campus where the great and the good come to mingle with ambitious undergraduates in an atmosphere of moral uplift and Victorian jocularity amid mementos of a sinister nineteenth-century cult of Native American skulls. Stimson, Lovett, Harriman, Acheson, Harvey Bundy and his two sons, McGeorge and William, for example, were all "Bonesmen," not to mention George Herbert Walker Bush and his father, Senator Prescott Bush. So were several of the key figures in the early years of the CIA.

... except in time of war, not many Americans between 1917 and 1968 were interested in foreign affairs, and fewer still were expert in that highly specialized field.

... Because many of them worked as international bankers and lawyers, the Establishment products of elite eastern education were an exception. They shared political assumptions, among them a history, a policy, an aspiration, an instinct, a technique, and a dogma. They were also defined by a class, a culture, a dynasty, and a style. But more important is what they did. For better or for worse, their contribution to the creation of the American superpower was immense.

Vietnam divided them and stripped them of their aura of invincibility. Since then, other elites with different agendas, especially neoconservatives more interested in the Middle East than in western Europe, have replaced them. But the Establishment's influence lives on. Its members made it possible for America to win two world wars and the Cold War. In the process they transformed the United States from a largely pacifist state into a national security state...

The prevailing culture in the foreign policy Establishment was that of New England boarding schools and Ivy League universities, of the older established Protestant denominations (especially Episcopalian and Presbyterian), of Wall Street and Boston's State Street law firms, and of the clubs their partners frequented. It was capitalist but liberal, patriotic but internationalist, Anglophile though critical of England, masculine but not macho, cultivated but not usually intellectual, loyal to schools, colleges, clubs, family, and nation, deeply committed to an ideal of public service and to an ethos of individual stoicism...

The dynasty began with Henry Lewis Stimson and even further back with Stimson's law partner and mentor, Elihu Root. Its direct line ran through Stimson's aide and protégé, Harvey Bundy, to the latter's sons, William Putnam Bundy, son-in-law of Dean Acheson, and his younger brother McGeorge. But the American foreign policy Establishment was broader than a single family. It welcomed all, or almost all, who shared its ideals, its purposes, and its style.

... The Establishment was not a cultural circle or another name for the old ruling class. It was a foreign policy Establishment, and its agenda was from first to last concerned with the place of the United States in the world.

... The Establishment's policy, from start to finish, was to oppose isolationism and to work, within the limits of its own sense of morality, to maximize American power and influence in the world. That did not mean simply that the United States should be involved in the world, should be-as the phrase went-"interventionist." It also meant that the United States should remain primarily oriented toward Europe, as opposed to Latin America or Asia, the natural fields of action for the elites of the South and the West. For all the occasional recruits from the Middle West and Texas (George Kennan° or Will Clayton") this was essentially an eastern Establishment; its worldview was that of New York and Washington, Boston and New Haven.

Its aspiration was not modest: it was to the moral and political leadership of the world, no less. Specifically, it aspired to supersede the British Empire in its double role of protecting a certain Western liberal, capitalist world order, and at the same time of preaching Western values to what Rudyard Kipling called "lesser breeds without the law."

... The instinct was for the political and ideological center. It was repelled by raw business self-interest, and uninterested in radical agendas of social change. To take an obvious example, the typical Establishment figure found racism distasteful, but placed the need for action toward racial equality low on his list of priorities. The Establishment stood for a liberal capitalism. Establishment members had no objection in the world to capitalism; many of them, after all, had inherited more or less substantial capital, and most of them worked, as bankers or lawyers, at the heart of the capitalist system, often literally on Wall Street.

At the same time, capitalism, its members believed, ought to protect "the widow and the fatherless." As Theodore Roosevelt put it in 1912, "This country will not be a permanently good place for any of us to live in unless we make it a reasonably good place for all of us to live in." Not a revolutionary or a radical creed, to be sure, but one that separated the typical Establishment member from more ruthless capitalists in the robber baron tradition.

Key members of the Establishment - Root, Stimson, the elder Bundy, and later john J. McCloy, John Foster and Allen Dulles, and McGeorge Bundy, for example-were all Republicans, and an internationalist Republican was necessarily a man of the center, defined in opposition to the isolationist right as well as to Democratic liberals. Only after the New Deal did substantial numbers of the Establishment become Democrats. Even then, the center was the place where consensus could be sought and maintained.

The foreign policy Establishment and the postwar intelligence community have so far usually been studied as entirely separate phenomena. In reality, they were the same kind of people, and often (in the persons, for example, of Allen Dulles or William Bundy) the same people. Between the end of World War II and the Kennedy administration, American interactions with the outside world, especially the higher echelons of foreign policy, diplomacy, and intelligence, were dominated by men from three or four eastern universities.

... The essence of that consensus was a vast deal whereby conservatives more or less grudgingly accepted the outlines of a social democratic New Deal, while all but the most radical liberals embraced a sternly anticommunist foreign policy. This was the position of the foreign policy Establishment. The Great Debate about isolationism was over.

In the belief that the United States had to save the world from a new, Soviet totalitarian tyranny, Dean Acheson stood at Armageddon and persuaded Senator Arthur Vandenberg and the Republicans he represented that the United States must be responsible for containing communist expansion.

John F. Kennedy's inaugural address, concerned almost exclusively with the "long twilight struggle" against communism, was written by Theodore Sorensen, a graduate of the University of Nebraska. But it expressed with perfect pitch the beliefs of the Harvard, Yale, and Princeton graduates who had been junior officers in the war against Axis domination, and stood ready to fight a second round against the tyrannous empires of Stalin and Mao.

It was not long, however, before that consensus, and the foreign policy Establishment which had reached the apogee of its power under it, began to dissolve. Multiple causes were at work, within and outside the American upper class. The first unmistakably visible crack was the Bay of Pigs. The fiasco utterly discredited Richard Bissell, Yale graduate and economics professor. He and Allen Dulles took the blame. But it also led to soul-searching and finger-pointing inside the intelligence and foreign policy community.

In the next few years the civil rights movement and the Kennedy assassination shook the national morale. As the 1960s went on, there was a general questioning of authority of every kind, from the bosom of the family to the White House. Fathers, teachers, professors, priests, officers, executives, and politicians were all asked, often rudely, to justify themselves and their authority. That was one Sixties, the Left Sixties, so to speak; at the same time the Sixties of the Right, taking off from the campaign to choose Barry Goldwater for the Republican presidential nomination in 1964, now began to challenge the liberal consensus from the opposite direction. Both inevitably shook the disproportionate power of the Establishment over foreign policy. Both were offered an opportunity by the strategic blunder and tactical incompetence of Vietnam.

By the time Richard Nixon was inaugurated in 1969, a liberal era was ending and a conservative hegemony was approaching.

From combating communism in Europe, the U.S. government, with( the CIA as point man, found itself committed to trying to understand and to influence the politics of literally dozens of faraway countries of which it knew little, to paraphrase the hapless Neville Chamberlain's description of Czechoslovakia in 1938: Angola, Guatemala, Indonesia, Zaire.

In the process, Washington, and the Establishment, had enough successes to believe it had learned how to counter subversion. From its origins as the successor of General William "Wild Bill" Donovan's OSS, the CIA was only partly an intelligence agency. The more glamorous part of its work was that of the Deputy Directorship of Plans (DDP). That was the cover name for "covert action," which could mean "counter-insurgency"-fighting up-country against rebellions of the kind described-or political coups backed by more or less overt small-scale warfare. The Soviet Union had upped the ante by encouraging wars of national independence to deny the West markets and raw materials. The United States, by responding almost everywhere, globalized the Cold War.

It was the prolonged agony of Vietnam that divided and discredited the foreign policy Establishment and, by robbing it of its reputation for wisdom, destroyed its influence.

... The narrative that most clearly charts the part played by Vietnam in the growing division and eventual discrediting of the Establishment is that of the "Wise Men," the group of elder statesmen outside government to whom Lyndon Johnson turned for advice. As the sheer size and difficulty of the task that would be involved in defeating the Viet Cong rebels and their supporters in North Vietnam became plain, the Establishment mind gradually changed. Patriots the Establishment men certainly were, and disinclined to shrink from conflict. Certainly most of them felt instinctively, as McCloy did, that once the honor of the United States was at stake, it must be maintained. Defeat was unthinkable. But they were also practical men, many of them lawyers. They would not shrink from a day in court if there were any chance of winning. But if the case was hopeless, they knew that they might have to settle out of court.

Lyndon Johnson was aware of his relative inexperience in foreign affairs. He was impressed, perhaps overimpressed, by the Establishment's reputation for expertise and wisdom. He wanted to recruit its prestige. In July 1965 a group of about twenty distinguished elder statesmen that included Dean Acheson, Robert Lovett, and John J. McCloy was invited for briefings on Vietnam at the State Department. The next day a smaller group of them met the president and enthusiastically endorsed plans for escalation in Southeast Asia. Acheson told the president he had "no choice but to press on." This was the policy Acheson had counseled in the early days of the Cold War: stand up to the communists.

On January 30, 1968, came the Tet offensive . The Viet Cong rose all over the country, even penetrating the perimeter of the American embassy in Saigon. Later historians, especially those of a conservative tendency, interpreted it as a defeat for the Viet Cong and Hanoi. At the time, it was certainly a political defeat for the Johnson administration. On February 27 at a meeting on Vietnam at the State Department, [Robert] McNamara, once the partisan of perseverance, lost control. "They've dropped more bombs than in all of Europe in World War II and it hasn't done a fucking thing," he shouted, and then broke down sobbing.

The same day the usually cool Dean Acheson also lost his temper with the president of the United States. He felt he was being given the runaround. He stalked out of the White House, and when Mac Bundy's successor, Walt Rostow, called to ask him to come back, the old gentleman answered, Tell the President he can take Vietnam and stick it up his ass."

On March 25 came the climactic meeting with the Wise Men. Bundy summarized their view for the president: "We can no longer do the job we set out to do in the time we have left, and we must begin to take steps to disengage." General Wheeler explained that the Pentagon was not intent on a "classic military victory." "Then what in the name of God are five hundred thousand men out there doing," Acheson burst out, "chasing girls?"

Less than a week later, Lyndon Johnson tacked on to a televised speech in which he announced a halt to the bombing of North Vietnam a statement that he would not seek reelection.

The Wise Men of the foreign policy Establishment had changed their position. They had won again, but it was a Pyrrhic victory. Walt Rostow died in the last political ditch. "I thought to myself," he reflected, "that what began in the spring of 1940 when Henry Stimson came to Washington ended tonight. The American Establishment is dead."

In the 1980s and 1990s a new generation took over from the highminded amateurs of the Establishment. No longer was foreign policy necessarily the business of the only elite that was interested. Foundations, think tanks, and graduate schools trained a new class of foreign policy professionals. In many respects they were far better prepared to handle America's growing international responsibilities than the men from Groton and Yale, Harvard Law and Wall Street.

... As early as the Kennedy administration, there had been signs that the American right was reviving. The liberal consensus was ending. The year 1962, for example, brought no fewer than three book-length denunciations of the Council on Foreign Relations." After the Nixon victory in the 1968 election, attacks on the foreign policy Establishment in general and the Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission in particular multiplied. But now they were joined by attacks, some equally fierce, but most of them ambivalent, from the liberal and radical left.

Between the 1960s and 2000, New Deal liberalism in the United States was overthrown by the conservative movement. Having captured the Republican Party, conservatives created first a Republican presidential majority and then a Republican majority in Congress. The toppling of Rooseveltian liberalism by Reaganite conservatism resulted from more than a clash of ideas about society. The process involved the displacement of one set of elites by another, with a different group of economic, ethnic, and regional constituencies.

The New Deal coalition included many industrial state mayors and political machine bosses, along with a number of southern and western politicians. Notwithstanding this, the mid-century liberal establishment, which included liberal Republicans as well as Democrats, overlapped to a large degree with the patrician northeastern establishment and the public service mandarinate of the Ivy League and the major nonprofit foundations-the same elites which had been influential in the earlier Progressive Era. Consequently, appeals to white working-class resentment of the East Coast elite, pioneered in national politics by George Wallace, became the stock-in-trade of Republican conservatives, who combined an anti-intellectual "culture war" with the agenda of corporations and wealthy individuals who wanted to roll back the regulatory and social welfare achievements of the New Deal. Although the Bush family was an estranged northeastern elite dynasty, most of the leaders of the Republican right were from the South and the West, some of them former segregationist Democrats who became Republicans during the civil rights era. As the states of the former Confederacy became the base of Republican conservatism, southern conservatives used their successful political synthesis of folksy populism, laissez-faire economics, militarism, and religious fundamentalism to appeal to working-class whites in other parts of the country, such as Catholic "white ethnics" in the Midwest, who resented the old northeastern elite, intellectuals, and racial and sexual minorities. At the elite level, the southern conservatives found allies among some Wall Street financiers and corporate CEOs as well as among the "neoconservatives," who were ex-liberal and ex-radical intellectuals and policy experts.

By the twenty-first century, a coalition of southern whites and northern white Catholics dominated by southern and western politicians controlled American politics. The pattern was familiar to students of American history; it represented a reprise of the pattern of American politics from 1800 to 1860, when a Jeffersonian elite leading a coalition of southerners and Catholic immigrants in the North controlled Washington, D.C., most of the time. As the new millennium began, the northeastern establishment and the Ivy League had lost power in the United States to a right-wing southern and western counter-establishment allied at the grass-roots level with Protestant evangelicals and fundamentalists and at the elite level with a small but influential faction of neoconservative intellectuals and political operatives.

The rise of the southern right came as a surprise during the civil rights revolution of the 1950s and 1960s, it appeared that the south would be integrated into the American mainstream. Instead, in the final third of the twentieth century, America was integrated into the southern mainstream. The rise to primacy in the federal government of politicians from the states of the former Confederacy was only one manifestation of a long-term trend: the southernization of the United States.

Despite the success of southern Democrats in limiting the scope a radicalism of the New Deal, the United States was dominated by New Deal liberalism from the 19305 to the 1970s. Republican presidents like Eisenhower and Nixon had to accommodate themselves to the prevailing liberal consensus. Under President Lyndon Johnson, New Deal ideals received their final expression with the enactment of Medicare and Medicaid, the last major social insurance programs established in the United States.

The New Deal era ended, however, in the 1960s, and a new era of conservative political dominance began, producing a Republican majority in the presidency and Congress by the turn of the twenty-first century.

Finding it difficult to muster congressional support for the repeal of popular federal programs, the administrations of both Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush instead pursued a strategy of "starving the beast" by cutting taxes and preventing the growth of spending or the creation of new government programs - at the expense, in both presidencies, of ballooning federal deficits.

The period from the 1970s until the early twenty-first century, then, can best be understood not in terms of the establishment of a new American "republic" but in terms of the capture and modification of the Third Republic of the United States by conservatives hostile to the political values of its New Deal liberal founders. Rather than abolish the foundations of Franklin Roosevelt's America, the resurgent right in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries adopted a strategy of working within the system that mid-century liberals had established while gradually undermining programs and institutions of which they disapproved.


The New Deal coalition of the 1930s to the 1960s had united segregationists and civil rights reformers in a single alliance based on the use of federal power to redistribute income among classes and regions. The civil rights revolution of the 1950s and 1960s destroyed the New Deal coalition and replaced it with a new political realignment based on race.

Racial demagogy was not limited to the right. Instead of trying to win back the white working class, the Democratic Party after the 1970s Put its hopes in a "rainbow coalition" strategy that sought to build a new Democratic majority on the basis of blacks, Latinos, and the liberal minority within the white population. Mainstream liberal supporters of the civil rights revolution, such as President Lyndon Johnson and Vice President Hubert Humphrey, for reasons of politics as well as principle, had favored race-neutral law and opposed "benign" racial discrimination on behalf of racial minorities. Bayard Rustin, a leading black liberal, argued that racial preference policies would destroy the liberal coalition between the white working class and black Americans. (Large-scale Latino and Asian immigration had only begun in the 1960s.) The fears of the color-blind liberals came true when the Democratic Party as a whole, in pursuing the "rainbow coalition" strategy, rejected race-neutral reform in favor of racial discrimination against white Americans.

By the mid-1970s, the Democrats added Latinos to blacks as a group eligible for racial preferences. The "compensatory justice" argument for affirmative action for black Americans would not work for Latinos, most of whom came to the United States following the liberalization of U.S. immigration laws in the 1960s. The rationale for racial quotas was changed from compensation for past injustice to the promotion of "diversity." Corporations and universities, fearful of protests by black and Latino activists, adopted quotas in the private as well as the public sector, and under their influence the Supreme Court, albeit by narrow majorities, has upheld a number of racial quota schemes.

Democratic politicians and activists tended to respond to criticisms of racial preferences by denouncing critics as racists. Although he challenged the left wing of the Democrats on economics and foreign policy as president, Bill Clinton avoided challenging the racial preference policies which had become Democratic orthodoxy. During the 1992 presidential campaign, he had denounced a black pop star named Sister Souljah for her comment that blacks ought to kill white people rather than one another. As president, however, he avoided any challenge to left-wing orthodoxy about racial preferences and multiculturalism. He said that racial preferences should be "mended, not ended," and engaged in televised debates about race in America.

Racial preferences were not the only example of identity politics on the left. The left wing of American liberalism also favored multiculturalism, bilingualism, and amnesties for illegal aliens. Diatribes by leftist scholars and activists against white Americans and Western civilization played into the hands of demagogic conservative Republicans seeking to appeal to disaffected white Democrats. Bilingual policies also alarmed white citizens, particularly in states like California, Texas, and Florida in which the Spanish-speaking population was growing rapidly. And the support by Democratic politicians of mass amnesties for immigrants who had broken U.S. immigration laws was widely interpreted as a desperate attempt to compensate for the party's unpopularity by seeking to naturalize foreigners who had broken American laws in order to bring them to the polls.

The result of the race-based realignment in the 1960s was a pattern racially polarized politics that changed little in the three subsequent decades. No Democratic presidential candidate has won a majority of the white vote since Lyndon Johnson in 1964. The only white ethnic group that remains consistently Democratic is the Jewish American minority, who voted for Al Gore over George W. Bush by 8o percent to 17 percent.

The definition of politics as moral crusading was most pronounce( among the religious leaders who emerged as political kingmakers in the last third of the twentieth century. American society as a whole became more secular and tolerant with each decade. The rise of political clerics was the result not of a "great awakening" in American society in general, but rather of the weakening of the political parties. As old-fashioned party machines dissolved, the largest organizations with grassroots membership that could be mobilized in political campaigns were the churches. The Catholic Church played only a minor role in politics. But evangelical Protestant churches in the southern tradition-both black and white-moved to fill the void left by the declining party organizations. Black Protestant preachers like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton became more influential in Democratic politics. But their influence was dwarfed by that of white southern Protestant preachers like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, who became kingmakers in the Republican Party. Preachers who could deliver busloads of the faithful to the polls on Election Day replaced old-fashioned political bosses. The capture of the nominating process in both parties by Protestant churches explains why fervent Christian religiosity seeped into American politics during the rise of southern political hegemony in the latter part of the twentieth century. Not only conservative Republicans like George W. Bush but also southern Democrats like Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton spoke of their personal relationship with Jesus in a language familiar in the South-and among the descendants of southern black immigrants in the cities of the North.

By the end of the twentieth century, American politics was dominated by individualistic billionaires and true believers belonging to various religions and secular ideologies. People who were neither rich nor highly ideological found themselves marginalized. Their disaffection expressed itself as growing alienation from both national parties and declining levels of voter turnout. In December 2000, following the bitter partisan debate over the installation of George W. Bush as president by the electoral college, 42 percent of Americans identified themselves to Gallup pollsters as independents-a greater number than either self-identified Republicans or Democrats.

The so-called neoconservatives were particularly successful in dominating national debate. Ironically, neoconservative tactics and strategy were modeled on those of the communist left. During the 1930s the Trotskyist movement, which produced a number of leading neoconservative figures, set up its own network of little magazines and institutions to combat those of the Stalinist left in the United States and Europe. Following World War II, anti-Stalinist socialists collaborated with anticommunist liberals in founding the Congress for Cultural Freedom, which opposed Soviet-sponsored cultural front groups. The influence of the cultural front model can be seen on the neoconservative movement, which, beginning in the 1970s, created a political-intellectual network linking elite journals like The Public Interest and The National Interest, political monthlies or weeklies like Commentary and The Weekly Standard, think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), and projects agitating for particular policies, like the Committee on the Present Danger in the 1970s and the Project for a New American Century in the 1990S and early 2000s. Irving Kristol, who had co-edited the anticommunist liberal magazine Encounter in the 19505 when it was subsidized by the CIA, and his son William and their associates were at the center of this network.

Their allies in the Protestant fundamentalist subculture had a network of their own. Between the 1920S and the 1960s, the mostly southern fundamentalists, alienated from modern society, had built their own counterculture of Christian bookstores, Christian radio and television stations, and even pseudoscientific "creation science" institutes that sought to refute modern biology and geology. In response to the sexual revolution and cultural liberalism of the 1960s, fundamentalists under the leadership of the television preachers Jerry Falwell, founder of the Moral Majority, and Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition, had a preexisting base from which they were able to capture the Republican Party and influence state and federal governments. Like the secular neoconservatives, the Protestant fundamentalists combined sectarianism with innovative use of up-to-date media strategies.

The American left handicapped itself in its response to the neoconservative-fundamentalist alliance by its media and political strategies. Instead of fighting the populist right to influence public opinion, the left focused on persuading the college-educated elite, through media like National Public Radio (NPR), the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), and prestigious journals. After the 1960s, the left dominated the academic subculture at the price of losing its influence beyond the campus. Meanwhile, from the 1960s to the early twenty-first century, the political energy of idealists on the left was dissipated in the promotion of divisive ethnic and gender identity politics, leaving the realm of political economy largely uncontested.

Both conservative and liberal intellectuals depended to a large degree on foundation funding. Liberal foundations like the Ford and Rockefeller foundations had far greater resources than those of the right, like the Bradley and Olin and Smith-Richardson foundations. Neoconservatives, however, used their limited resources to better effect by subsidizing cadres of young public intellectuals accustomed to print and TV and radio debate, and by subsidizing books intended to promote conservative ideas, such as the racist anti-welfare tract The Bell Curve by Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein. By contrast, the foundations of the left supported projects rather than thinkers and publicists. And much of the money from the liberal foundations went to projects in relatively noncontroversial areas like children's welfare and environmentalism. The frequent choice of noncontroversial topics reflected compromises between the progressive program officers at left foundations and their more conservative boards of directors. All of these self-defeating strategies by the center-left produced conservative victories by default in the war of ideas.

In the kaleidoscopic confusion of post-Cold War American foreign policy, the most powerful faction was that of the neoconservatives, many of whom were former Cold War liberals or anticommunist socialists who had broken with the left wing of the Democratic Party during the Vietnam era. Like the old northeastern Establishment, the neoconservatives were a small, well-educated elite, mostly northeastern and metropolitan and largely Jewish. In the 1980s and 1990s the support of neoconservatives for hard-liners in Israel led them to cement an alliance with the Protestant fundamentalists of the religious right, whose ardent "Christian Zionism" resulted from their own interpretation of Christian theology. Neoconservative ideology-incubated in think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute in Washington D.C.-was disseminated to the right-wing populists of the South and West via Rupert Murdoch's Fox TV network and his American political magazine, the Weekly Standard, as well as by conservative talk radio hosts like the popular Rush Limbaugh.

In the administration of George W. Bush, neoconservatives like Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith, and Vice President Dick Cheney battled with Secretary of State Cohn Powell, a self-described "Rockefeller Republican" who represented the older internationalism of northeastern Republicans. In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., of September 11, 2001, President Bush tilted decisively toward the neoconservatives. The policy of the U.S. government became the policy advocated by the neoconservatives during their years out of power during the Clinton administration: a massive military buildup; rejection of treaties and international organizations and the adoption of aggressive American unilateralism; almost uncritical support for the policies of Ariel Sharon's Likud regime toward the occupied Palestinian people; and the invasion and occupation of Iraq which had been advocated by Cheney and Wolfowitz during the first Persian Gulf war but rejected by then-President George Herbert Walker Bush and then-Chairman of the joint Chiefs of Staff Cohn Powell. Neoconservative experts and journalists like the military analyst Elliot Cohen, Norman Podhoretz, the editor of Commentary, and Clinton's former director of central intelligence, James Woolsey, blurred the distinctions between Israel's war with the occupied Palestinians and the struggle against the Al Qaeda terrorist network...

Under George W. Bush, as a result of the alliance between the neoconservatives and southern and western politicians, U.S. foreign policy was transformed. The United States was alienated from all of its ( major European allies except for Tony Blair's Britain. The Americans had joined Israel as occupiers of an Arab nation, and, like Israel, confronted a determined insurgency. Unlike the war in Afghanistan, which was a rational response to the Taliban regime's support for the Al Qaeda terror network, the Bush administration's foreign policy was not a logical reaction to events. Its unilateralism and militarism reflected the traditional distrust of diplomacy and pro-military attitudes of southerners and their allies in the interior West. And the shift in focus from Europe and Eurasia to the Middle East reflected in part the eclipse of the Eurocentric northeastern Protestant Establishment by a new and aggressive counter-establishment of southern Christian Zionists and predominantly Jewish neoconservatives who, for different rear considered Israel the most important foreign country.

Ruling America

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