Foreign Affairs magazine and identity politics

Foreign Affairs is the ultra-elitist magazine of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), created by and for the WASP establishment in the aftermath of the Woodrow Wilson presidency in 1922.

Writing in the National Interest, Hunter DeRensis sees that F.A. is no longer satisfied with voicing the opinions of foreign service elites.  It is now sticking its toe into the waters of the domestic culture wars.  DeRensis says it began the September/October 2018 issue when Francis Fukuyama, of End of History fame, wrote a piece criticizing the Balkanization of identity politics and called for the Democrats to instead address economic issues that have galvanized Trump voters. 

This provoked three rebuttals.  The most worrisome was authored by none other than Stacey Abrams, the bitter and failed candidate in the just concluded governorship race in Georgia. In it, Abrams gave a full-throated defense of identity politics, actually touting it as a national good.  She concluded her bizarro-summary by writing: "By embracing identity and its prickly, comfortable contours, Americans will become more likely to grow as one."  Yes, Ms. Abrams, up is down, and down is up.  This is Newspeak at its finest.  Such thinking fits her M.O., as Abrams presented her $200,000 debts to the IRS, the credit card companies, and student loans almost as a badge of honor. 

There are two takes as to why Foreign Affairs would stoop to publish Abrams.  DeRensis says: "Perhaps this old vessel of upper-class thought sees choppy waters ahead for anyone who doesn't join the diversity wave."  That's a disturbing thought.  Identity politics is evil, as it intentionally divides Americans and undermines the concept of what a nation is.  Obviously, Abrams never gave a thought to what would happen if white identity were embraced by Caucasians as she calls on blacks to do with their identity. 

There's another way of looking at this.  It's that the old WASP establishmentarians know the wisdom in the divide-to-conquer principle.  If blacks, Hispanics, the LGBT people, radical feminists, and the like spend their energy in trying to establish political power based on their so-called identity, an America First movement will find it difficult to coalesce.  Then the CFR and its like will have a freer hand in molding America's dealings with the rest of the world. 

Since the end of WWII, several generations in the foreign service have grown accustomed to the U.S. being a de facto empire.  That's all they know.  America currently has military in 80 countries, with 750 to 800 bases overseas.  We're committed by treaties and agreements to defend numerous countries, many of which are of no of national security importance to America.  The U.S. is enmeshed in international organizations whose intent is often to constrain the U.S. rather than to promote American interests.  Trade agreements have been established that are unfair to the U.S. workers as a way to keep foreign countries on board with America being the "benign hegemon."

Why would the foreign service elite want to maintain such a status quo?  It's not for the good of America.  It's because, by being the interface between the U.S. and the rest of the world, it makes them a gatekeeper and puts them at the pinnacle of importance.  Donald Trump and MAGA are a threat to this arrangement, and the politics of identity is one way to weaken American nationalism, which is rising under Trump.

The foreign policy elite hope Trump will be gone in 2020 and things will reset back to "normal."  Unfortunately for them, the prospects of Trump's re-election look better now than at any time since he was first elected.  And then there's Walter Russell Mead, an establishment figure himself.  He writes in his "Trump's Foreign-Policy Critics Are Losing":  

President Trump has plenty of problems with polls, but in neither party does the electoral base show much nostalgia for the mainstream foreign policy of the post-Cold War era. ... Whatever comes after Donald Trump, it won't be a simple return to the Republican or Democratic version of the post-Cold War consensus.

There's no going back, and the embrace of identity politics won't give the foreign service crowd what they want.  It will only divide Americas into warring factions.

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