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Diplomacy, Inc.

The Influence of Lobbies on U.S. Foreign Policy

Damon Albarn, lead singer with British band Blur joins anti-war demonstrators to lobby Parliament in London January 21, 2003. Stephen Hird / Reuters

The area around K Street in Washington, D.C., abounds with lobbyists, many of whom represent foreign governments or entities. Although some major foreign governments continue to work mainly through their embassies in Washington, nearly one hundred countries rely on lobbyists to protect and promote their interests. The subculture of public relations and law firms that do this kind of work reflects a steady decline and privatization of diplomacy -- with an increasing impact on how the United States conducts its own foreign policy.

The strongest lobbies promoting foreign interests are driven by cohesive ethnic population groups in the United States, such as Armenia, China, Greece, India, Israel, Taiwan, Ukraine, and, historically, Ireland. Even countries that have strong bilateral relations with the United States, such as Australia, Japan, and Norway, need lobbyists as well as embassies. Lobbyists can operate within the system in ways that experienced diplomats cannot. A lobbying

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