Obama convenes a National Security Council meeting in the White House, Washington, D.C., March 2014
Pete Souza / White House / Reuters

The foreign policy establishment has seen better days. During the Obama administration, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes derided it as “the Blob,” mocking its stodgy hawkishness. Then Republicans joined the chorus, with the Trump administration declaring war on mainstream foreign policy and national security professionals and the president dismissing critics as “the failed Washington elite looking to hold onto their power.” On this issue, moreover, even some of Trump’s harshest critics in the academy agree with him.

American foreign policy, they contend, has been controlled by a privileged cabal bent on serving its own interests rather than those of the nation at large; one that protects its turf by shutting out alternative ideas and excluding dissenting voices. The result has been three decades of dismal failure, with the United States squandering its post–Cold War advantages and careening from catastrophe to catastrophe. The key to getting things back

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  • HAL BRANDS, the Henry A. Kissinger Distinguished Professor of Global Affairs at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, served as Special Assistant to the Secretary of Defense in 2015-2016.
  • PETER FEAVER, Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at Duke University, served as special adviser for strategic planning and institutional reform at the National Security Council staff in 2005-2007 and as director for defense policy and arms control in 1993-1994.
  • WILLIAM INBODEN, William Powers, Jr., Executive Director of the Clements Center for National Security and an Associate Professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, served at the State Department in 2002-2005 and as senior director for strategic planning on the National Security Council staff in 2005-2007.
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