Saturday, March 8, 2014

Who sets US foreign policy?

The excerpt below from a 2006 article seems particularly useful today.
There is a deep class-based consistency in explanations of Ukraine events by US and UK petty bourgeois "antiwar" groups and individuals today.
They claim that Kiev's months'-long mass mobilizations, which began as spontaneous protests over austerity, attacks on democratic rights, and Russian suzerainty, were organized by Washington.  Some (Stop the War, Party for Socialism and Liberation) claim a "neocon" cabal is to blame, as it was(they claim) for US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.
The middle class left with near unanimity has erased the historical national oppression of Ukraine by Russia from any of their opportunist and misleading equations. Unconditional support for Moscow is a common thread in this, as though Putin's policy is somehow solely beneficent for workers in Ukraine and around the world.
These "Russian exceptionalist" fantasies are based upon the idea that US policy can be checkmated on behalf of the world's workers by any episodic tool, but not by actions of workers and oppressed peoples themselves.
Who really makes US policy?  A secret cabal of "neocons" (a dog whistle antisemitic phrase over the last decade and more), or the capitalist ruling class?
This is an important question.  If US policy and world events, including social explosions and resistance by workers and farmers, is the product of years of secret manipulations by Washington, the primary effect of such arguments is to breed demoralization and defeatism in our class about its own power and determination to start fighting back.

.... These assertions about “neoconservative” and even “Jewish” control over Washington’s policies in the Mideast are fraudulent and reactionary. First, the leading figures in the alleged “neocon conspiracy” such as Wolfowitz and Feith, are no longer in the Bush administration. Second, none of the central officials responsible for Washington’s policy in Iraq—Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld—are Jewish.
Last week’s article noted that, while William Kristol’s Weekly Standard and other so-called neoconservatives were among those who in 1997-98 began to campaign for taking steps to overthrow the Saddam Hussein government, this course toward “regime change” predominated among most in the ruling class and became official policy under the Clinton administration.
The conspiracy theories, including the Jew-hating varieties, let the U.S. capitalists off the hook while promoting American nationalism. U.S. imperialism’s foreign policy, far from being hijacked by some isolated group, is controlled by and represents the interests of a class: the wealthy billionaire families who rule the United States, including both their parties, the Democrats and Republicans.  

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