Sunday, November 12, 2017

Charles Koch is Throwing Big Money at Foreign Policy

The Washington Post reports:
A foundation overseen by billionaire industrialist Charles Koch is making major investments in foreign policy programs at elite American universities, including a
soon-to-be-announced $3.7 million grant to Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The latest grant, which is expected to be made public early next week, is part of a larger effort to broaden the debate about an American foreign policy Koch and others at his foundation argue has become too militaristic, interventionist and expensive. It follows about $10 million in similar grants the Charles Koch Foundation has given in recent months to Notre Dame, Tufts University, Catholic University and the University of California at San Diego.

“This is the beginning of a much bigger project to ask questions about America’s proper role in the world and how we move forward,” said Will Ruger, vice president for research at the Charles Koch Foundation.

So what exactly is the Charles Koch foreign policy vision? WaPo writes:
In the world of foreign policy, the grants are a major investment aimed at generating new ideas about how America should use its military power and vast economic influence....

The foundation’s grants are designed to encourage research that advances the realist school of foreign policy, a view that is skeptical of American-led humanitarian interventions, abhors nation-building in places like Iraq or Afghanistan and preaches the importance of restraint on the world stage.

Foreign policy realists typically support big investments in naval and air power to dissuade potential adversaries, such as Russia and China, and to safeguard global commerce and free trade.

“We are not pacifists,” Ruger said, “but we want to be smarter. . . . This isn’t a liberal or conservative issue. It’s looking at what we’ve been doing and saying what’s a better approach.”
According to WaPo,  the investment at Harvard and MIT, like the Koch foundation programs at the other universities, will primarily pay for graduate-level and postdoctoral fellowships. Stephen Walt, a professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and Barry Posen, the director of MIT’s Security Studies program, will oversee the Koch-funded program at the two schools.

To be sure, Walt and Posen are not crazed neocon warmongers (Indeed, the neocons hate Walt) but it is difficult to think of them as desirous of the elimination of a US global footprint.

Posen considers himself as part of the Restraint establishment bloc.

In 2014, in the Boston Review, he wrote:
For these reasons, I have signed up with the advocates of Restraint. The United States should focus on a small number of threats, and approach those threats with subtlety and moderation. It should do that because the world is resistant to heavy-handed solutions. It can do that because the United States is economically and militarily strong, well-endowed and well-defended by nature, and possessed of an enormous ability to regenerate itself. It is not smart to spend energies transforming a recalcitrant world that we could spend renewing a United States that still needs some work.
Walt is co-author of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. From the blurb to the book:
The Israel Lobby," by John J. Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen M. Walt of Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government, was one of the most controversial articles in recent memory. Originally published in the London Review of Books in March 2006, it provoked both howls of outrage and cheers of gratitude for challenging what had been a taboo issue in America: the impact of the Israel lobby on U.S. foreign policy.
Now in a work of major importance, Mearsheimer and Walt deepen and expand their argument and confront recent developments in Lebanon and Iran. They describe the remarkable level of material and diplomatic support that the United States provides to Israel and argues that this support cannot be fully explained on either strategic or moral grounds. This exceptional relationship is due largely to the political influence of a loose coalition of individuals and organizations that actively work to shape U.S. foreign policy in a pro-Israel direction. Mearsheimer and Walt provocatively contend that the lobby has a far-reaching impact on America's posture throughout the Middle East―in Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, and toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict―and the policies it has encouraged are in neither America's national interest nor Israel's long-term interest. The lobby's influence also affects America's relationship with important allies and increases dangers that all states face from global jihadist terror.
Walt is also not a big fan of Trump. From his twitter feed:
 #Trump Admin already short on foreign policy brainpower, & #Tillerson keeps trying to give State iDept a lobotomy.
Clearest sign of #Trump's diplomatic incompetence: he doesn't realize "America First" is a goal that even U.S. allies reject.  Key to being #1 is convincing others to see this as mutually beneficial, & not just naked pursuit of one-sided advantage.
I suspect #trump is jealous that he can't just arrest people the way the Saudi Crown Prince just did.  #TheManWhoWouldBeKing
If you haven’t figured out that #trump & co are simply plundering the country to enrich themselves & other fat cats, you haven’t been paying attention.
Mark this Koch move as a lukewarm positive move. I would have preferred to see this money go to  hardcore libertarian scholars instead of just the best from the elitist worst---but it could have been a lot worse.


1 comment:

  1. I can't remember if I read "The Israel Lobby" just before or right after my deployment, but either way it strengthened my views toward non-intervention more than even the leading libertarians and paleo-cons. It gave me intellectual cover that we weren't in this alone.