The purpose of the essay “Influence of Ethnic Lobbies” is to examine the Jewish American lobby, which has managed to maintain a strong presence in American polity since the beginning of the 20th century, its influence has grown gradually…
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This influence and the potential imbalance of “rights and interests” in extreme cases may lead to conflict that may tear apart the delicate mechanism of democracy. This will be explored further. American Foreign Affairs and Ethnic Lobbies The issue of the inequity of power distribution and influence amongst various groups has been rigorously debated in the United States since the inception of the pluralist democracy, according to Smith (5) and recognizes that polarizing influences will always exist within the structure of a pluralistic democracy (6). When looked at in the context of American foreign policy Smith argues that at different occasions different ethnic lobby groups with different agenda’s have had an undue influence on American foreign policy decisions, which may not necessarily have been in the interest of the nation as a whole. Smith identifies three ways through which ethnic lobbies gain influence in American foreign policy: by acquiring votes, financing campaigns of politicians and by organizing and mobilizing the ethnic community to which it belongs. History of Ethnic Lobbies & Measuring The Effect A country with as ethnically diverse a population as the United States of America has encountered various forms of ethnic activism and foreign policy lobbying for various at ends throughout its history. The period of World War 1, in particular, was a deeply polarizing era, during which many different ethnicities in America had differing allegiances in the conflict. Jewish Americans had begun to develop a strong lobby by acquiring control over financial resources and media in the form of newspapers. Having initially supported Germany, they began to support Britain after the Balfour Declaration. During the period after the war, ethnic lobbies began to exert increasing amounts of influence. Examples included America’s reluctance to actively participate in the League of Nations through Irish American lobbying, the ascendancy of the Republican party due to German American support and America’s “isolationism” of the 1930’s influenced by Mussolini supporting Italian Americans (Smith, 53). It must be clarified, however, that even though lobbying has a great deal of influence on many American foreign policy decisions, it is not the sole determinant. In fact, Smith states that the problem is one of “measurement”, and that in order, to measure the effect of lobbying, the activities of the lobbies must be inspected in isolation and in competition with contradictory forces (124). Jewish American Lobby The Jewish American lobby has managed to maintain a strong presence in American polity since the beginning of the 20th century, its influence has grown gradually and it can now boast of almost unrelenting American support in almost all matters, that it concerns itself with. The ultimate goal of the Jewish American lobby in the modern day scenario is the unconditional support of Israel. In the early 1980’s President, Ronald Reagan managed to garner just enough support in Congress to allow an arms deal with Saudi Arabia.
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