chapter  1
16 Pages

Conceptualising the state–private network in American foreign policy


This chapter focuses on the power contained within the infrastructure of the modern state and the indispensability of private elite organisations for state legitimacy and power. The cooperative inter-relationship between the modern American state and elite foreign affairs and other organisations blurs the distinction between the public and private sectors and calls into question theories (such as pluralism, statism and instrumental Marxism) that advance a zero-sum view of power, pitting the state against private interest groups and vice versa. It is argued that cooperative state-private elite networks played a powerful role in mobilising for US global expansionism during the Cold War and that such network construction and functioning can best be explained and appreciated by examining concepts that emphasise shared and mutual state-private elite interests, and thereby go beyond the conventional theories of state-private interest division and competition. The advantages to the state of such arrangements were that official policy objectives – overseas intelligence gathering, the promotion of pro-American interests and elites – could be met, or at least advanced, especially in ‘sensitive’ areas, by purportedly unofficial, non-governmental means.