Former Obama speechwriter, confidant, and deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes had an all-encompassing label for the wonks, experts, think tankers, cable news talking heads, and former or future officials, always ready to spin through Washington’s infamous revolving door, who make up the capital’s “foreign policy community.” He called them “the Blob,” a crew, as David Klion wrote in a profile of Rhodes for the Nation magazine, “largely committed to perpetuating its own power and reinforcing the status quo.”
In his striking recent book, The Hell of Good Intentions, Stephen Walt offers this vivid description of them:
“[T]he contemporary foreign policy community has been characterized less by competence and accountability and more by a set of pathologies that have undermined its ability to set realistic goals and pursue them effectively. To put it in the bluntest terms, instead of being a disciplined body of professionals constrained by a well-informed public and forced by necessity to set priorities and hold themselves accountable, today’s foreign policy elite is a dysfunctional caste of privileged insiders who are frequently disdainful of alternative perspectives and insulated both professionally and personally from the consequences of the policies they promote.”
And let’s add one more set of factors to any portrait of those blobbers who helped bring you America’s endless wars, drone assassination campaigns, and so memorably much more. Little noticed as it may generally be, the think tanks that many of them work for are often functionally for sale — and that’s no small thing in a town awash in foreign lobbying money. Today, TomDispatch regular Ben Freeman explores the money trail that leads from the autocratic regimes of the Middle East to Washington’s think tanks and so into the heart and soul of the Blob itself.
- Following the Foreign-Policy Money Trail in Washington
How Middle Eastern Powers Fund Think Tanks
Ben Freeman • February 21, 2019 • 2,400 Words