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Elitist State Dept. Bureaucracy Could Hamper US Foreign Policy

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By with Michael R. Shannon
Tuesday, 13 Mar 2018 10:35 AM Current | Bio | Archive

First Things is a magazine founded by the late Catholic leader Father Richard John Neuhaus. The magazine’s goal is to "confront the ideology of secularism, which insists that the public square must be 'naked,' and that faith has no place in shaping the public conversation or in shaping public policy."

Besides publishing the magazine and maintaining an excellent website, First Things periodically sponsors lectures on pressing topics of the day. Last week, along with Catholic University of America, it sponsored an address in Washington, D.C. by Michael Doran.

Doran is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and during the Bush the second administration served as senior director of the National Security Council (NSC). He contends that even in our secular–dominant culture there is a theological divide in America’s foreign policy that dates back to the Scopes Monkey Trial.

Doran uses the trial as the starting point because much of the controversy regarding the trial involved an intramural fight on the Christian side. Briefly, in 1925 Dayton, Tennessee substitute teacher John Scopes was charged with teaching the theory of evolution in violation of state law.

The trial was a test case with nationwide interest and Scopes was defended by famous lawyer Clarence Darrow and he was prosecuted by the equally famous William Jennings Bryan.

Bryan represented the fundamentalists who believed in the inerrancy of the Bible. His opponents were protestant modernists. This split also mirrors our rural versus urban and elites versus populists divide today. As Doran pointed out the venomous description of Bryan and the populists he represented sounds like current attacks on the "deplorables." Sort of a populists versus persnicketies.

The elites of that time, like today, were dismissive of believers who were confident in their Christianity and felt the Bible was God’s truth. Elites had a more nuanced, or wishy–washy, view of their faith and tended toward the Jesus as a great moral teacher, non–assertive philosophy.

So, what does this have to do with foreign policy? I wondered the same thing for a bit, then Doran explained.

Bryan and his side were Jacksonian democrats who fought against a government that was a "monopoly of elites." Jacksonians also believe "God interferes directly in the affairs of men" while the modernists or progressives believed God had relinquished direct control of man in favor of local busybodies more in touch with current fashion in morality.

Bryan’s side believed in original sin and individual responsibility, while modernists believed in the "perfectibility of man" and "collective action."

Bryan won the court case, but the progressives won the cultural war. Modernist missionaries sent overseas went with a "deeds instead of creeds" model that jettisoned evangelism and conversion to Christianity in favor of a being baptized into the Peace Corps approach embodied in an "ethical humanism." 

These missionaries essentially quit trying to convert Arabs overseas and pagans at home. This is important because many of these same missionaries joined the U.S. State Department after World War II and began to shape the country’s foreign policy.

Doran explains this is the origin of today’s policy battle between the nationalists — Make America Great Again — and the internationalists — Make the U.N. Great Again.

The State Department is a branch of the "oligarchy of experts" Truman opposed when he recognized Israel in 1948. These arrogant careerists are convinced they are the true architects of foreign policy and the political appointees — brought into office by voters — are temporary burdens that must be neutralized. Or to put it in current terms, "resisted."

Doran explains that his explanation is valid even in our secular culture, "God has receded but the divide still exists." Progressives are every bit as religious in their belief in ethical humanism as the Jacksonians are in Christianity.

Our most recent example of this divide between populists who want to do what they see as right for the U.S. as a Christian nation that is loyal to its allies and modernists obsessed with world opinion is moving the embassy to Jerusalem.

Doran called this controversy a "mini replay of Truman versus the State Department." 

Striped-pants experts have been fighting this transfer since Congress first passed the bill authorizing it. They warned of "setbacks to the peace process" and "rage in the Arab street." President Trump had enough with pussyfooting around in the Mideast trying to placate the implacable and approved the move.

Bryan nationalists versus cosmopolitan internationalists, and the nationalists won. There was no volcano of unrest in the Mideast after Trump did the right thing and Trump continued to keep the State Department on its heels by insisting the embassy open in time for this year’s celebration of the founding of Israel.

That’s two victories for the Jacksonian nationalists, but the struggle will continue with an entrenched State Department bureaucracy that will fight Trump over every nail in the new embassy.

Andrew Jackson became famous for his defense of New Orleans as he destroyed a British army that tried to assault his entrenched militiamen. Today the Jacksonians are outside the State Department trying to dislodge a numerous and entrenched elitist bureaucracy. I’m not optimistic regarding our chances for success.

Michael Reagan, the eldest son of President Reagan, is a Newsmax TV analyst. A syndicated columnist and author, he chairs The Reagan Legacy Foundation. Michael is an in-demand speaker with Premiere speaker’s bureau. Read more reports from Michael Reagan — Go Here Now.

Michael R. Shannon is a commentator, researcher for the League of American Voters, and an award-winning political and advertising consultant with nationwide and international experience. He is author of "Conservative Christian’s Guidebook for Living in Secular Times (Now with added humor!)." Read more of Michael Shannon's reports — Go Here Now.

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The Jacksonians are outside the State Department trying to dislodge a numerous and entrenched elitist bureaucracy. I’m not optimistic regarding our chances for success.
bryan, michael doran, first things, scopes
Tuesday, 13 Mar 2018 10:35 AM
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