While there are exceptions, those who want to change US foreign policy must understand that many, if not most, of its practitioners believe (however misguidedly) that they’re doing the right thing.

By Daniel Bessner, Foreign Exchanges

One of the most important things to understand about the people who make-up the US national security state is that most of them believe in what they’re doing. They do not consider themselves to be part of any evil empire, but rather genuinely insist that they’re dedicated to their jobs and making the lives of people the world over better. There are of course some whose motives are less well-intentioned—people whose primary interest in working for the government is directly related to their will to power—but I’d venture to say that they are more the exception than the rule.

This is not to excuse the inherent hubris in this position. As many people who are reading this will no doubt be shouting at the screen, what gives Americans the right to anoint themselves global do-gooders, especially when their country has done such enormous damage to the world? Don’t US policymakers realize that their Pollyanna-ish approach to their job is an artifact of imperial privilege? Why, after all, should we care about what decision-makers and staffers of the deep state think that they’re doing in the world, given the often-brutal reality?

The Pentagon building overlaid with a picture of a brain
Photo by Hisham F. Ibrahim

In a real sense, these criticisms are correct: I would never ask, expect, or desire someone who’s suffered directly at the hands of the American Empire to have empathy for those implicated in their oppression.

But for those of us within the United States, who hope to use their unique subjective position to restrain US power and begin to weaken the US empire, I believe it’s important to understand and appreciate what those who actually staff the imperial apparatus believe. People like Antony Blinken or Samantha Power do not wake up every morning and start work worrying about whether they are contributing to a brutal global reality. Far from it—they sincerely think they’re doing the Lord’s work. In fact, they think they’re acting “progressively,” in that they’re using US power to engender the liberal world they consider central to peace and security.

Read More