Correction Please! Professor Byas Libels Foreign Affairs – Part 2
By Will Banyan, Copyright © 29 October 2019
“In the area of foreign policy, our editorial point of view is based on avoiding foreign entanglements and going to war only when necessary to defend our country and citizens.”
The New American Editorial Policy
The Failed Dream
The other complaint made by Professor Steve Byas is that Foreign Affairs (FA) fails to present criticisms of “the dogmas of the establishment, such as open borders, multilateral trade deals, and that more and bigger government is the solution to all ills.” Byas also makes the blanket claim that one “will not find articles” by long-time “paleo-conservative”, former presidential candidate and The New American contributor (via a syndicated column) Patrick Buchanan or “anybody else” making these arguments in Foreign Affairs. While it’s not clear if a contribution from Mr Buchanan has been ever been sought by the editors of FA or offered by him, there have been numerous articles in FA over the past two and a half years for a variety of other contributors attacking the Establishment policies of military interventionism, globalization, free trade, the welfare state, and there have even been a few articles praising nationalism:
Arthur Brooks, then writing as President of the American Enterprise Institute (he is now listed as one of its “scholars”) who both praised Trump and attacked welfarism. Brooks wrote that although Trump’s victory was a “surprise”, it was largely due to the “alienation and disaffection of less educated white voters in rural and exurban areas.” Trump had emerged as a “uniquely popular tribune for this constituency” whose “anger…has been building for half a century” (FA, Mar/Apr 2017, p.106). Brooks attributed this dire condition to the pernicious effects of a welfare state that treated “people left behind by economic change as liabilities to manage rather than as human assets to develop” (p.109). There were “millions of working class whites”, he claimed, who were languishing while “elites have ignored them or treated them with contempt” (p.110). Brooks’ overall aim was to put these people to work, which would be achieved by reducing corporate taxes, cutting the minimum wage, and limiting welfare payments to encourage recipients to work (pp.111-113).
Professor Andrew Bacevich denounced the “utopian globalism” of the “political, military and corporate elite” (FA, Sep/Oct 2017, p.59). Bacevich argued that the “allure” of “America First” was likely to persist and there was an opportunity for a future political leader to “articulate a foreign policy that promises to achieve of the aim of the original America First movement: to ensure the safety and well-being of the United States without engaging in needless wars” (p.61).
Harvard Professor Stephen Walt also attacked the “liberal hegemony” promoted by “foreign policy elites” at the end of the Cold War that had “weakened the country and caused considerable harm at home and abroad” (FA, May/Jun 2019, p.26). Walt delivered a scathing assessment of the liberal hegemonic agenda:
[T]he United States sought to transform regimes all over the world and recruit new members into the economic and security institutions it dominated. The results were dismal: failed wars, financial crises, staggering inequality, frayed alliances, and emboldened adversaries (p.28).
Dani Rodrik, Ford Foundation Professor of International Political Economy from Harvard University, acknowledged that the “populist backlash” against globalization, had been caused by the “hyperglobalist path” set by policy-makers in the 1990s. This had “required domestic economies to be put in service of the world economy, instead of the other way around.” The formation of the World Trade Organization not only “made it harder for countries to shield themselves from international competition”, but the global trade rules had a much bigger impact on national governments. The growth in trade with “China and other low-wage countries accelerated the decline in manufacturing employment in the developed world, leaving many distressed communities behind” (FA, Jul/Aug 2019, p.26). This “hyperglobalization”, noted Rodrik, had produced greater international economic integration but its main consequence was “domestic disintegration” in Western countries (p.33).
According to Democrat Senator and Presidential aspirant Elizabeth Warren the “globalization of trade” had been “tremendously profitable for the largest American corporations”, but the free trade deals had “left millions of working Americans to drown” (FA, Jan/Feb 2019, p.51). Multinational corporations, Warren claimed, had exerted influence over trade negotiations leading to outcomes that “favoured their own bottom lines”, while “American workers got the short end of the stick” (p.52). She also called for a “review” of America’s overseas military commitments, and advocated “bringing U.S. troops home from Afghanistan and Iraq” and cutting the US Defense budget (pp.56-57).
The March/April 2019 issue had a special section with eight articles analysing the “New Nationalism.” Of these at least three contributors not only defended nationalism, but explained its resurgence as a logical popular reaction to the elite’s globalization project:
- Nationalism is “not an irrational sentiment”, argued Professor Andreas Wimmer from Columbia University, but is “one of the modern world’s foundational principles and is more widely accepted than its critics acknowledge” (FA, Mar/Apr 2019, p.28). The “white working classes”, Wimmer explained, resenting their “cultural marginalization by liberal elites” who painted them as the “enemies of progress”, had turned to “populist nationalism…because it promises to prioritize their interests, shield them from competition from immigrants or lower-paid workers abroad, and restore their central and dignified place in the national culture.” Nationalism, Wimmer insisted was “here to stay”; it was more popular than “[u]niversalistic cosmopolitanism” and the only principle on which to base the “international state system” (p.34).
- Yael Tamir, President of the Shenkar College of Engineering, Design and Art in Israel, provided a sympathetic review of Yoram Hazony’s The Virtue of Nationalism. Although disagreeing with Hazony’s view that the nation-state was threatened by an emerging global empire, Tamir traced the populist backlash to the “tension between nationalism and neo-liberal globalism.” Nationalism was about “the right…of states to…defend their citizens and control the malignant effects of hyper-globalism…” Nationalists weren’t all bigots; many simply felt “ill-served by globetrotting cosmopolitan elites…” (p.51). “For too long” she concluded, “the least-well off citizens of powerful states have paid the price of globalism” leading to their “just and timely demands” for protection (p.52).
- According to Professor Jack Snyder from Columbia University, the rise of “populist nationalism” was the fault of elites in the US and Europe who had “steadily dismantled the political controls that once allowed national governments to manage capitalism.” They had “constrained democratic politics” to suit international markets, and had “shifted policymaking to unaccountable bureaucracies or supranational institutions” such as the EU (p.54). Noting that the “institutions of the present international order” had “ceased responding to the wishes of national electorates”, Snyder argued that “nation-states remain the most reliable political form for achieving and sustaining democracy” (p.60).
The very existence of these articles, however, demonstrates unequivocally and contrary to Professor Byas’s claims, that FA Editor Gideon Rose has followed his magazine’s editorial policy of providing a diversity of opinion. While the quantity of the defenses of Trump in FA falls well short of the levels of exultation to be found in such publications as The New American, Breitbart, American Greatness, the Washington Times, or even the New York Post, the fact remains that such views have not been excluded. This finding, of course, conflicts with Professor Byas’ narrative of a FA as a hotbed of globalist and anti-Trumpian propaganda. In short, in his claims are demonstrably wrong and misleading.
This finding also calls into question the good professor’s research skills, given that he managed to miss all of these articles, especially those praising Trump’s foreign policy. Putting aside the possibility that his academic qualifications are unearned, there is a more plausible explanation for Byas’ seeming inability to locate and point out to the many Trump sympathizers who read The New American that Foreign Affairs had in fact published Secretary Mike Pompeo’s glorious defense of Trump’s Middle East foreign policy, Kroenig and Schweller’s enthusiastic missives on Trump’s “America First” foreign policy; or professors Wimmer, Tamir and Snyder’s defense of nationalism as a justified response to predatory globalism.
That explanation is quite simply that Byas’ contributions are in line with the editorial policy of The New American in its role as a propaganda outlet for the John Birch Society. In its statement on its editorial policy (Figure 1), The New American makes it clear it is a political magazine; that it is devoted to promoting a very specific “point of view”. Of course, this admission of inherent bias is celebrated by TNA as an act of transparency, in contrast to the biases of the mainstream media that are hidden under the guise of being “objective”.
In short, The New American’s editorial policy makes no pretense to being ideologically diverse: its only aim is to promote the John Birch Society’s anti-globalist ideology. As a regular contributor to The New American, Professor Byas is therefore expected to offer commentaries that reflect and reinforce the Society’s support for Trump’s “America First” foreign policy and its opposition to the “globalist” Council on Foreign Relations.
On the latter it is worth nothing that the John Birch Society has a well-developed conspiratorial view of the roles of both the CFR and Foreign Affairs in promoting “subversion” and “One World Government”. Although JBS founder Robert Welch did not mention the CFR in his famed The Blue Book of the John Birch Society (1959), his book The Politician (1963), or even in his pivotal “The Truth in Time” essay (American Opinion, November 1966), his concept of a secretive “ruling clique” he dubbed the “Insiders” provided a conspiratorial framework that easily accommodated the existence of the Council. The CFR now sits at the center of the Society’s conspiracy theory about the “Insider” (but now “Deep State”) threat to US national sovereignty.
JBS member John A. Stormer, for instance, did much to promote suspicion about the CFR in his hugely influential book None Dare Call It Treason (1964).[*] Stormer portrayed the CFR as a powerful, yet secretive organization, with tendrils reaching into every part of the US Government, media, and industry. Stormer quoted the findings of the Special House Committee to Investigate Tax-Exempt Foundations that the CFR had an “internationalist bias” and that its publications promoted a “globalistic concept” (p.210). “The Kennedy-Johnson Administrations”, he wrote, “appear to be totally controlled by CFR members and former members” (p.211). He claimed that “CFR members have largely controlled the United States government and its foreign policy” since the end of World War Two (p.212). Stormer also suggested the CFR, through its control of the US State Department, was propping up Communism as it was the fear of Communism that provided the impetus to achieve world government (pp.216-217).
This narrative about the conspiratorial CFR was repeated in other John Birch Society literature. Gary Allen and Larry Abraham’s None Dare Call It Conspiracy (1971), for example, described the “semi-secret” CFR as “unquestionably…the most influential group in America” (p.83). Its “final goal”, they argued, was “a government over all the world…” (p.87). In a subsequent book The Rockefeller File (1976), Gary Allen, also a prolific contributor to The New American’s predecessor publication American Opinion, attacked the CFR as the “keystone of the Establishment arch” and the “brain of the octopus” (p.52) whose members had “virtually dominated every administration in Washington since the days of Franklin Delano Roosevelt” (p.55).
In his Architects of Conspiracy (1984), William P. Hoar, then a Contributing Editor to American Opinion, repeatedly described the CFR as a “conspiratorial” organization (pp.78, 99, 117) that had been established to “work towards World Government” (p. 317). The Insiders (1979, 1992, 2004), a pamphlet written by the Society’s Chairman Emeritus, John F. McManus, claimed the CFR’s purpose, “right from its inception [is] to destroy the freedom and independence of the United States and lead our nation into a world government” (p.8).
Such views have become ingrained in JBS lore, treated as a self-evident truth even in its members-only literature. In 2004, for example, Gary Benoit declared in The John Birch Society Bulletin (Jun. 2004, p.12), that presidential contenders George W. Bush and John Kerry were actually “socialists and internationalists”, who were “beholden to the same CFR-Insider cabal.” The CFR’s agenda was for “world government without public consent”, wrote then JBS President G. Vance Smith (JBS Bulletin, Nov. 2004, p.4). “As long as our White House and State Department are dominated by CFR members”, Smith lamented in an earlier piece, “Insider plans for a governing world body will never be laid to rest!” (JBS Bulletin, Jun. 2003, p.4). Another contributor, Warren Mass accused a “CFR-dominated State Department policy” of having consistently favoured Communist China over Taiwan (JBS Bulletin, Jan. 2004, p.9).
The central JBS text on the CFR is James Perloff’s The Shadows of Power: The Council on Foreign Relations and the American Decline (1988). Perloff portrayed the CFR as a sinister organization that supported both the “creation of a world government” and being “‘soft’ on Communism” (pp.10, 12). But it was Perloff who did most to promote the notion that Foreign Affairs only published articles that supported those goals:
Anyone who cares to examine back issues of Foreign Affairs will have no difficulty finding hundreds of articles that pushed – whether zealously or by “soft sell” – this concept of globalism. But he will be hard pressed to locate even one essay opposing it. This, of course, deflates Foreign Affairs’ claim of “a broad hospitality to divergent ideas” (p.10).
One finds that dozens of Marxists and socialists have published articles in [Foreign Affairs] – even such titans of Communism as Leon Trotsky, Soviet Premier Nikita Khruschev and Yugoslavia’s Josip Broz Tito…On the other hand, if one searches Foreign Affairs for an American author whose name is popularly associated with patriotism or anti-Communism, he looks all but in vain (pp.12-13).
In a subsequent chapter, commenting on the formation of the CFR, Perloff offered this analysis of the devious purpose of Foreign Affairs:
Of course, not every article in Foreign Affairs openly boosted world government, which would have overstated the case. But typically the journal printed one or two that did, mixed in with dry dissertations on a variety of international topics. No conspiracy lurked behind such titles as “Singapore’s [Control of Key] Mineral Resources” or “The Soya Bean in International Trade.” However, many of the particularlized articles did present solutions pointing towards globalism (ibid, p.37).
Perloff’s achievement was to establish as one of the ideological truisms of the John Birch Society that Foreign Affairs never publishes views that deviate from the elite’s “globalist” consensus. TNA’s roving correspondent Alex Newman, for example, recently described Foreign Affairs as one of the CFR’s “propaganda organs”, crediting it with regularly promoting “regional government, illegal war and other extreme positions” (TNA, 08 Jan 2018, pp.20, 21). Chairman Emeritus McManus also recently accused numerous presidential aspirants over the years – specifically Richard Nixon, John McCain and Barrack Obama – of making sure certain “boundaries weren’t crossed” when they published in Foreign Affairs. This roster of the damned now included Elizabeth Warren, whom McManus accused of using her contribution to signal to “Deep State activists” her “willingness to continue America’s suicidal foreign and domestic policies” (TNA, Mar. 18, 2019, p.44).
It is this crude caricature of the Council on Foreign Relations – as a sinister, monolithic “globalist” cabal[†] – and of Foreign Affairs as little more than a propaganda sheet for the CFR, that Byas slavishly repeats. Byas regularly takes issue with the “globalist” CFR and its “globalist agenda” (TNA, Dec. 21, 2018); it is, he claims, an “organization that generally promotes American interventionism” (TNA, Sep. 18, 2019). And in a lengthy piece in the print edition castigating former Secretary of State and “ardent globalist” John Foster Dulles, Byas claimed the “[c]hanging the views of the American public” was one of the CFR’s key aims, given that many Americans “still held to the idea that America should remain an independent nation.” “Among their methods” for achieving this objective “was the founding of a journal, Foreign Affairs, that would promote the goals of the CFR” (TNA, Mar. 05, 2018, p.33; emphasis added).
Beyond the Caricature
But, as we have already seen, this portrayal of Foreign Affairs as little more than a mouthpiece of the sinister agenda of the CFR that actively excludes anti-globalist and now, pro-Trump points of view, is a fantasy that cannot withstand close scrutiny. Take for example, Perloff’s claims in The Shadows of Power where he cited the publication of articles by Trotsky, Khrushchev and Tito, as evidence of the CFR’s conspiratorial Communist sympathies. Yet the presence of these authors, along with Izvestia editor Karl Radek (FA, July 1932) and his successor former Politburo member Nikolai Bukharin (FA, July 1936), in more recent years a number of Russian foreign ministers, seems more in line with the diversity of views promised in FA’s editorial policy rather than hidden Communist sympathizers on the editorial board.
The same can be said for the space given over the years to many prominent US isolationists and other opponents of the alleged scourge of “globalism”.[‡] A few of the more prominent examples—none of which have been mentioned by Perloff, Byas or other JBS writers—illustrate that Foreign Affairs strove to meet its editorial charter:
Among the first of the anti-globalists to set forth their views in the pages of Foreign Affairs was Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, one of the so-called “Irreconcilables” who had been instrumental in preventing the US from joining the League of Nations. In his contribution, Lodge argued that not being in the League ensured the US was “not entangled in European affairs” (FA, Jun. 1924, p.525). Lodge’s foreign policy prescription was clear:
Let the League [of Nations], which was made in Europe and belongs to Europe, go on there and prosper. We wish it well, but let us, refraining from permanent alliances against which Washington warned us, go on in our own way and try disinterestedly and without taint of foreign influences to help Europe and the affairs of Europe in every possible way, the way to be determined by us. Let us make it our policy that what we shall do and when we shall do it shall be determined by us, who sought neither land, nor money, nor reparations at the end of the war. In the diplomatic history of the United States during these past three years I think we have good and practical evidence of the soundness of this doctrine (p.539; emphasis added).
In 1934 Foreign Affairs published an address to the CFR by another League opponent, Senator William E. Borah, which was preceded by remarks from then future CFR President Norman H. Davis affirming that Council members “like to hear all points of view” (FA, Jan. 1934, p.ii). Borah used his address to take issue with the “wide difference of opinion” that had emerged since the First World War over the US role in the world (p.iv), in particular the rejection of the “unchallenged and revered policy” of avoiding “entangling alliances” (p.iii) Instead the US was expected “to assume a position in world affairs the very reverse of that which we had held from the beginning of the government” (p.iv). Borah continued:
We were never to assume the “immoral” position of neutrals. Nationalism and devotion to one’s country were to be reduced to a minimum. Internationalism was to be the supreme, dominating force among the peoples of the world. Like other revolutions, it sought to break with all the past, its traditions, its policies, and the views and teachings of its mighty leaders (p.iv; emphasis added).
Borah, though, mocked the notion that the “nearness” of people through improvements to transportation would overcome nationalism. On the contrary, this new force of internationalism had “failed”; “The fight against nationalism has lost” (p.vii) Borah proclaimed. And like Lodge, Borah rejected any substantial alliances:
I believe in the foreign policy which offers peace to all nations, trade and commerce with all nations, friendship with all nations, political commitments, express or implied, with none— the policy which not only in fact respects the rights and sovereignties states and nations without distinction of great and small, and upon this Continent, but which would also refrain from words would seem to challenge those right (p.x; emphasis added).
Another important contribution, missing from JBS approved history of the CFR, was philosopher Reinhold Niebuhr’s article devoted entirely to attacking the idea of world government (Figure 2) as a solution to the nuclear arms race. Niebuhr dismissed the idea as a “simple expedient”, and noting that governments cannot by created by fiat, and that a world government would not be able to build a world community.
The late Senator Jesse Helms, eulogised in The New American as “probably the most conservative, pro-Constitution senator of his era and as staunch a foe as the communists, both American and international, ever faced” who “would be missed”, was published twice in Foreign Affairs in the late 1990s. In one of his FA articles Helms had attacked the United Nations, long the bete noir of the John Birch Society in terms they would be familiar with:
As it currently operates, the United Nations does not deserve continued support. Its bureaucracy is proliferating, its costs are spiraling, and its mission is constantly expanding beyond its mandate -and beyond its capabilities. Worse, with the steady growth in the size and scope of its activities, the United Nations is being transformed from an institution of sovereign nations into a quasi-sovereign entity in itself. That transformation represents an obvious threat to U.S. national interests. Worst of all, it is a transformation that is being funded principally by American taxpayers. The United States contributes more than $3.5 billion every year to the U.N. system as a whole, making it the most generous benefactor of this power-hungry and dysfunctional organization (FA, Sep/Oct 1996, p.2; emphasis added).
According to Helms:
The international elites running the United Nations look at the idea of the nation-state with disdain; they consider it a discredited notion of the past that has been superseded by the idea of the United Nations (ibid, p.3; emphasis added).
Helms had advocated for reform measures aimed at “arresting U.N. encroachment on the sovereignty of nation-states” including downsizing the UN into a much weaker and smaller entity by cutting its bureaucracy, and reducing UN peacekeeping operations. He even advocated US withdrawal from the UN – a longtime JBS goal – if these reforms were not carried out. This was hardly a globalist manifesto, and yet it too was carried in the pages of supposedly avowedly “globalist” Foreign Affairs.
In 2001 an irate and aggrieved Henry Kissinger, no doubt inspired by some failed attempts to arrest him on war crimes charges, took to the pages of the Foreign Affairs (Jul-Aug 2001) to vent about the growing dangers of a movement to “submit international politics to judicial procedures” (p.86). One key topic of his ire was the International Criminal Court (ICC); its “unelected jurists”, he complained, were providing a “fundamental challenge to US constitutional practice” (p.93). Kissinger also took issue with the idea that if “law replaced politics, peace and justice would prevail”; it was a theory that would not be supported by “even a cursory examination of history” (p.95).
Much more recently in 2013, a triumvirate of former Senator John Kyl, former Undersecretary of Defense of Policy (2001-2005), Douglas Feith, and Hudson Insitute Senior Fellow John Fonte took issue with international agreements overriding democratic processes in the US (Figure 3). Focusing on the opposition to the signing of the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Kyl et al described the opposition based on something “practical and fundamental: whether U.S. laws should be made by politicians held accountable to Americans through the ballot box or by unaccountable officials in multinational organizations” (FA, Jul/Aug 2013, p.115). They took issue with the agenda of the “transnationalists”, who sought to “smuggle new restrictions into U.S. law” through judicial means, bypassing democratically elected bodies by enforcing various international treaties and agreements (pp.117-118). They also objected to the ICC, in particular the notion seemingly pursued by the Obama Administration that the US was bound by ICC, despite not having ratified it (pp.123-124).
This smattering of examples is not meant to disprove the thesis that the editors of Foreign Affairs may not have been sympathetic to these arguments; on the contrary, it is likely they published many of these pieces through gritted teeth. But it doing so they were at least abiding by FA’s editorial policy of publishing divergent views. The editorial policy of The New American, in contrast, seems to require its contributors to promote “fake news” about Foreign Affairs.
The Unwise Professor
In the introduction to his book, History’s Greatest Libels, Professor Byas laments how we are “bombarded” with lies “almost every day, sometimes many times a day”, to the point that “lies are told so often they have become widely accepted…” Citing George Orwell’s Nineteen Eight-Four, Byas seeks to impart a lesson about the motives behind the deliberate “distortion of history”. He writes:
…it was said that those who control the present control the past, and those who control the past control the future.
Those who work so hard to distort what really happened in history, with individuals, groups and ideas, have a desire to control the future. The past, it seems, can be used as a blunt instrument, a weapon if you will, to bludgeon modern society into submission. By distorting the past, those who repeat the greatest libels in history hope to shape the future.
Given the demonstrable and unnecessary falsehoods that Professor Byas has repeatedly promoted about Foreign Affair’s coverage of the Trump Administration and of anti-globalism in general, it would seem eminently fair to ask if he has succumbed to the same libellous urges he derides in service of the John Birch Society’s political agenda. Presumably the good professor is motivated by a desire to shape the future for the better, to overcome the powerful, but as he surely knows deliberate lies can corrupt even the purest of agendas, and provide a cover for the powerful, including self-proclaimed elite victims of the “Deep State”.
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[*] Stormer was a member of the John Birch Society, and it was one of only three organizations he recommended readers consider joining if they wanted to oppose the communist conspiracy (None Dare Call It Treason, p.231). John F. McManus, current Chairman Emeritus of the John Birch Society, credits the book with leading him to the JBS and claims that “Society members throughout the nation helped to distribute a high percentage of the millions of Stormer’s small book” (TNA, Jul. 20, 2018).
[†] Such caricatures are not confined to JBS or conspiratorial literature, but also can be found in some academic accounts of the Council. Laurance H. Shoup’s recent book on the Council, Wall Street’s Think Tank (2015) describes the CFR as the “think tank of monopoly finance capital” that is the “world’s most powerful private organization.” The CFR, Shoup contends, is “the central ‘high command’ organization of the plutocracy that runs the country and much of the world.” Shoup also repeatedly described the CFR as a representative of the “deep state” that “rules behind the scenes” (p.7).
[‡] Support for the “globalist” or “liberal internationalist” program, based on a combination of international institutions and global free trade, was initially strong within the US Establishment in the wake of the Second World War. But growing tensions with Soviet Union provided an opportunity for proponents of US global hegemony, unimpeded by the spectre of supranational bodies, to usurp the globalist project, suppressing it until it re-emerged in the 1970s (see Will Banyan, “The Illusion of Elite Unity: Elite Factionalism, the ‘War on Terror’, and the New World Order”, 2008/2015).