True believers vs. foreign policy experts—the view from outside

From the latest Nouveau Parisien, a thorough and depressing account of how far the ideologues’ takeover of the U.S. foreign policy establishment has gone.

The latest issue of the French weekly Le Nouveau Parisien (article not online, I’m afraid; translation by Louis Coté, who turned me on to it) contains a thorough and depressing analysis of the ascendancy of Bush’s neocon political appointees over the career U.S. analysts and diplomats who used to provide continuity and sobriety in foreign policy. The summary paragraph:

Under Bush and Cheney, the neoconservatives have expanded their power base throughout the U.S. foreign policy bureaucracy; by the end of January, they had replaced thousands of career foreign service officers and analysts with their own members. One former senior United Nations official, who has extensive experience with the U.S. foreign policy establishment, depicted the turnover as “a white coup,” with ominous implications for the Islamic world. “Professionals in the State Department and the CIA are out; others are waiting to be kicked out,” he said. “We may be too late. These guys now believe that they are stronger than ever since the Reagan Revolution.” He said that, particularly in consideration of the collapse of the USSR as a superpower, the neoconservatives’ attitude was “To hell with the Islamic World. You can do as much as you like.”

UPDATE: I’m afraid I’ve been taken in by my translator. This report was not in Le Nouveau Parisien but in

Author: Michael O'Hare

Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, Michael O'Hare was raised in New York City and trained at Harvard as an architect and structural engineer. Diverted from an honest career designing buildings by the offer of a job in which he could think about anything he wanted to and spend his time with very smart and curious young people, he fell among economists and such like, and continues to benefit from their generosity with on-the-job social science training. He has followed the process and principles of design into "nonphysical environments" such as production processes in organizations, regulation, and information management and published a variety of research in environmental policy, government policy towards the arts, and management, with special interests in energy, facility siting, information and perceptions in public choice and work environments, and policy design. His current research is focused on transportation biofuels and their effects on global land use, food security, and international trade; regulatory policy in the face of scientific uncertainty; and, after a three-decade hiatus, on NIMBY conflicts afflicting high speed rail right-of-way and nuclear waste disposal sites. He is also a regular writer on pedagogy, especially teaching in professional education, and co-edited the "Curriculum and Case Notes" section of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Between faculty appointments at the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, he was director of policy analysis at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. He has had visiting appointments at Università Bocconi in Milan and the National University of Singapore and teaches regularly in the Goldman School's executive (mid-career) programs. At GSPP, O'Hare has taught a studio course in Program and Policy Design, Arts and Cultural Policy, Public Management, the pedagogy course for graduate student instructors, Quantitative Methods, Environmental Policy, and the introduction to public policy for its undergraduate minor, which he supervises. Generally, he considers himself the school's resident expert in any subject in which there is no such thing as real expertise (a recent project concerned the governance and design of California county fairs), but is secure in the distinction of being the only faculty member with a metal lathe in his basement and a 4×5 Ebony view camera. At the moment, he would rather be making something with his hands than writing this blurb.