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When The Deep State Bullied Reagan’s Foreign Policy Chief

November 27, 2019 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

The testimony of several witnesses during the current impeachment hearings in the House of Representatives highlighted one important and ominous point. Ambassador William B. Taylor, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George P. Kent, and others made it clear that they did not object merely to President Trump’s controversial phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which Trump appeared to seek a quid pro quo. No, they saw Trump’s entire Ukraine policy as insufficiently hardline and therefore unacceptable.

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Indeed, Taylor and Kent seemed to think it was improper for the president to change any aspect of a staunchly supportive U.S. policy toward Kiev and a correspondingly hostile policy toward Russia. Far from being loyal subordinates executing the White House’s vision, they opposed the president’s approach and anointed themselves as guardians of appropriate policy.

Unfortunately, such behavior on the part of foreign policy careerists is far from new; it has merely become more pervasive and brazen during the Trump years. This is indicative of what Trump’s supporters—and others—contend is a campaign by the “deep state,” meaning career officials in the foreign policy bureaucracy and the intelligence agencies, to undermine the president’s foreign policy. Defenders of Taylor, Kent, and other Trump opponents within the foreign policy apparatus either praise them as patriotic dissenters or scoff at the notion that a deep state even exists.

It is extraordinarily naïve to assert that powerful bureaucracies and their key personnel do not protect their institutional interests, push policies in directions they prefer, and attempt to dilute, delay, or defeat initiatives they oppose. Such behavior is a long-standing characteristic of entrenched institutions.

An episode from Ronald Reagan’s presidency illustrates how the CIA seeks to manipulate policy. The agency’s target was Secretary of State George Shultz, who was then applying the Reagan Doctrine and providing U.S. aid to anti-communist rebels in the Third World. Shultz was the chief intellectual architect of the Reagan Doctrine, which he presented in detail during a February 1985 speech to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. But that intellectual pedigree did not shield him from attempted policy sabotage.

Despite his overall enthusiasm for the Reagan Doctrine in places such as Afghanistan, Nicaragua, and Angola, Shultz drew the line at supporting some particularly unsavory alleged freedom fighters. He was …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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