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Do the opinions of the American people affect U.S. foreign policies?

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Date: Friday, 02 February 2024

Do the opinions of the American people affect U.S. foreign policies?

Eric Zuesse (blogs at

No, they don’t. Here is the answer to this question that was supplied on 1 February 2005, in an article that was published by a journal of the American Political Science Association, American Political Science Review, titled “Who Influences U.S. Foreign Policy?”, excerpted here:

The implications of our findings for previous research connecting public opinion and policy making are sobering. …

The estimates of strong business influence hold up under different models, for different political and institutional conditions, and for different time periods. They hold for high- as well as low-salience issues, for a variety of substantive issue areas, and with respect to different institutional groups of policy makers (though especially for executive branch and Senate officials). … To our surprise, public opinion — the aggregate foreign policy preferences of ordinary citizens — was repeatedly estimated by our Models 1–3 to have little or no significant effect on government officials. … These results contradict expectations [not “findings” but “expectations”] drawn from a large body of previous research. … It [prior research] has seldom systematically examined the relative impact of competing influences. … [In other words: this was the first empirical study on this question. Even as-of today, no second such study has been published.]

The apparently weak influence of the public [on U.S. foreign polices] will presumably disappoint those adherents of democratic theory (e.g., Dahl 1989) who advocate substantial government responsiveness to the reasoned preferences of citizens (Page and Shapiro 1992). Our findings indicate that the gravitational pull on foreign policy decision makers by the “foreign policy establishment” (especially business leaders and experts [who are hired by those “business intersts” or actually America’s billionaires who control them]) tends to be stronger than the attraction [that’s their word meaning “affect” or “impact”] of public opinion. This is consistent with the pattern of extensive and persistent “gaps” that Chicago Council studies have found between the foreign policy preferences of the public and those of policy makers. For example, ordinary Americans, more than policy makers or other elites, have repeatedly expressed stronger support for protecting Americans’ jobs, stopping the inflow of illegal drugs, and reducing illegal immigration, as well as for a multilateral, cooperative foreign policy based on bolstering the United Nations, working closely with allies, and participating in international treaties and agreements (Bouton and Page 2002; Jacobs and Page 2003). …

Our finding of a substantial impact on foreign policy by business — generally a greater impact than by experts — suggests that purely technocratic calculations do not always predominate in the making of foreign policy. Competing political interests continue to fight over the national interest, and business often wins that competition.

This finding was subsequently bolstered by political-science empirical studies on the broader question of whether the U.S. Government is controlled by and serves its public (i.e., is a democracy) or instead only by its extremely richest (i.e., is an aristocracy), all of which studies have found that America is not a democracy but instead an aristocracy. It’s a dictatorship by its richest 0.1% of its richest 1%, or by its richest hundred-thousandth of the U.S. population, but especially by the 400 richest Americans, all of whom are multi-billionaires and control America’s international corporations, which profit enormously from these foreign policies.

Nor are America’s foreign colonies (or ‘allies’) democracies, either. Most of its colonies are in Europe; and on 28 February 2013, the British Journal of Political Science published an empirical study, “Determinants of Upper-Class Dominance in the Heavenly Chorus: Lessons from European Union Online Consultations”. Here is its summary or “Abstract”:

Social science literature contains ample warning that even if a range of methods exists for involving external interests in policy making, external interests still do not necessarily have equal opportunities to voice their concerns. Schattschneider's oft-quoted indictment of the American interest-group system that 'the flaw in the pluralist heaven is that the heavenly chorus sings with a strong upper-class accent' has been echoed in subsequent studies not only of the United States but also of other political systems.1 However, even if the literature finds strong support for the conclusion that business interests dominate at the aggregate level, such a finding masks considerable internal variation. The bias in the heavenly chorus is not equally strong every time it sings, because a number of characteristics related to the performance itself may affect the degree of bias. It is, therefore, surprising to find a lack of studies explaining and empirically testing the conditions under which we are likely to see different levels of bias in the participation of substantive interests between cases. Moreover, studies often draw conclusions on bias without explicitly relating the distribution of active interests to that of the interest-group population as a whole.

In this research note, we analyse a new dataset of participation in the European Commission's online consultations during the last ten years and compare it to the population of registered interests. Our aggregate findings show that business dominance in consultations is even higher than in the population of registered groups. Moreover, our findings offer a first systematic empirical, large n test of how the character of different types of policy affects participation patterns. We find a linkage between characteristics of policies and degrees of bias in individual consultations. Participation on expenditure issues with direct consequences for budgets is more diverse than on regulatory issues, where private actors primarily cover the costs. Finally, a narrower range of interests mobilize on proposals with concentrated costs than on proposals whose costs are carried by a broader range of stakeholders. We start the note by briefly reviewing the literature on bias in interest representation and considerations of the conditions under which we should expect it to vary. Thereafter, we examine how the character of policy affects mobilization patterns.

This should not be surprising, because the EU was set up by the U.S. Government after WW II, as part of its war to conquer Russia — the political-economic part, not the military part, NATO — recognizing the fact that in order for the coming U.S. empire to be able to repeat Hitler’s Operation Barbarossa, it would have to be initially an invasion from Europe, and so gaining political and military control over European nations would be crucial in order for the U.S. regime to become enabled to do successfully what Hitler’s German regime had tried but failed to do. America’s billionaires are determined to control Russia, and the vast majority of Europe’s billionaires have joined them in this imperialistic effort.

Like all empires, the U.S. empire is a network of aristocracies. The public exist only as soldiers to carry out the conquests using the weapons that the billionaires’ ‘defense’ firms sell to the Government, and as taxpayers to fund those soldiers and weapons. And, of course, as voters, to select from amongst the political candidates that those billionaires have decided to fund and to promote.

So, it all makes sense, that the opinions of the American people don’t affect U.S. foreign policies, regardless of how much those foreign policies affect the American people — such as by their injuries, deaths, and soaring U.S. Government debt in order to fund the purchases of all those weapons and the employment of the soldiers to use them.

This is the reality of America’s ‘democracy’.


Investigative historian Eric Zuesse’s latest book, AMERICA’S EMPIRE OF EVIL: Hitler’s Posthumous Victory, and Why the Social Sciences Need to Change, is about how America took over the world after World War II in order to enslave it to U.S.-and-allied billionaires. Their cartels extract the world’s wealth by control of not only their ‘news’ media but the social ‘sciences’ — duping the public.

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