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Conceptualising and Historicising the US Foreign Policy Establishment in a Racialised Class Structure

Ledwidge, M. and Parmar, I. (2017). Conceptualising and Historicising the US Foreign Policy Establishment in a Racialised Class Structure. International Politics, 54(3), pp. 306-321. doi: 10.1057/s41311-017-0034-z

Abstract

In recent years critical scholars of U.S. foreign policy have challenged the mainstream paradigm that fails to account for the racial dimensions of international relations. This article introduces a conceptual and historical analysis of the US foreign policy establishment that posits race and racism at its centre. While alluding to conventional theories of American power such as pluralism and statism, the article also highlights classical Marxism’s failure to acknowledge that US exceptionalism and racism conjoined in a manner that conferred a racial dimension to class politics. The article argues that the U.S. foreign policy establishment has been presided over by an elite or ruling elite; and irrespective of challenges from below, increasing diversity, or the insistence that America is a meritocratic classless society, the U.S establishment is at heart, elitist, racialised and generally Anglo-centric. The article identifies links between the racial dimensions of U.S. foreign policy and the identity profile of the power elite. The paper extends and critiques C. Wright Mills’ definition of the power elite by mapping its racial dimension. Finally the article argues that although the election of Obama represented a more inclusive and cosmopolitan version of the establishment, Obama’s presence has helped to consolidate the status quo as the structural constraints on the executive branch and symbolism associated with the election of the first African-American president has generally silenced the Left and quietly fostered the suggestion that an unconventional identity profile will not necessarily result in the change we can believe in.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in International Politics. The definitive publisher-authenticated version Ledwidge, M. & Parmar, I. (2017). Conceptualising and Historicising the US Foreign Policy Establishment in a Racialised Class Structure. International Politics, 54(3), pp. 306-321, is available online at: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1057/s41311-017-0034-z
Publisher Keywords: racial identity; cosmopolitanism; foreign policy establishment; Anglo-centric; US power elite
Subjects: J Political Science > JK Political institutions (United States)
Departments: School of Arts & Social Sciences > International Politics
URI: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/12564
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