Corrupting Foreign Policy?

Do special interests shape foreign policy? Simona Maria Ross of Harvard’s Safra Center for Ethics says yes–and that the general public are the ones most left out of the game.

Since the mid-twentieth century, the United States has emerged as a global superpower wielding influence on the lives of millions around the world. The foreign policy decisions of U.S. lawmakers have a global reach and should not be shaped by special interests. This paper analyzes the dynamics of campaign finance and lobbying in U.S. foreign policy through the lens of institutional corruption. The central argument is that the business community possesses the resources necessary to influence foreign policy leaders and frame global affairs in ways that fit its interests. Ethnic groups and foreign governments have also been shown to be highly influential when they hire K Street lobbying firms to persuade lawmakers. And while think tanks are known for their role as a source of expertise on global affairs that guide the foreign policy debate, evidence suggests that their research is also influenced by corporate agendas. One of the most surprising and unfortunate findings is that the public is the least influential group among actors aiming to shape U.S. foreign policy. [SSRN]

Also, don’t count out foreign governments in the circle of influence. As reported by the WaPo, countries with weaker diplomatic ties to the US are the ones spending more money lobbying to influence US foreign policy.

Who leads in that list? UAE, Saudi Arabia, Canada and Germany, with Mexico in the next tier, followed by Bosnia, Morocco, South Korea, Georgia, and Azerbaijan.


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