And this gets to a very basic error that has become a feature of the Rhodes-Obama mind-meld on foreign policy. What they oppose is not the foreign policy establishment, but often the Americans who lobby Congress for policies that displease that establishment. First and foremost on this list is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
“We can do things that challenge the conventional thinking that, you know, ‘Aipac doesn’t like this,’ or ‘the Israeli government doesn’t like this,’ or ‘the Gulf countries don’t like it,’ ” Rhodes told Samuels. “It’s the possibility of improved relations with adversaries. It’s nonproliferation. So all these threads that the president’s been spinning — and I mean that not in the press sense — for almost a decade, they kind of all converged around Iran.”
While it’s true that Aipac is influential in Congress, it has never had much purchase inside the State Department or other institutions of the U.S. foreign policy establishment. Some presidents have worked closely with Aipac and others have not. But whatever one wants to say about it, or the anti-Cuba lobby or dozens of similar groups, they all advance their policies through the democratic process, by petitioning Congress. The same cannot be said about the foreign policy establishment, which is an expert class that derives most of its power from the presidents who seek its members’ advice.