Diaspora Lobbies and the Us Government: Convergence and Divergence in Making Foreign Policy

Diaspora Lobbies and the Us Government: Convergence and Divergence in Making Foreign Policy

Diaspora Lobbies and the Us Government: Convergence and Divergence in Making Foreign Policy

Diaspora Lobbies and the Us Government: Convergence and Divergence in Making Foreign Policy

Synopsis

As a nation of immigrants, the United States has long accepted that citizens who identify with an ancestral homeland may hold dual loyalties; yet Americans have at times regarded the persistence of foreign ties with suspicion, seeing them as a sign of potential disloyalty and a threat to national security. Diaspora Lobbies and the US Government brings together a group of distinguished scholars of international politics and international migration to examine this contradiction in the realm of American policy making, ultimately concluding that the relationship between diaspora groups and the government can greatly affect foreign policy. This relationship is not unidirectional--as much as immigrants make an effort to shape foreign policy, government legislators and administrators also seek to enlist them in furthering American interests.

From Israel to Cuba and from Ireland to Iraq, the case studies in this volume illustrate how potential or ongoing conflicts raise the stakes for successful policy outcomes. Contributors provide historical and sociological context, gauging the influence of diasporas based on population size and length of time settled in the United States, geographic concentration, access to resources from their own members or through other groups, and the nature of their involvement back in their homelands. This collection brings a fresh perspective to a rarely discussed aspect of the design of US foreign policy and offers multiple insights into dynamics that may determine how the United States will engage other nations in future decades.

Excerpt

Josh DeWind and Renata Segura

When in his farewell address as president of the United States George Washington (1796) warned the American people against the dangers of foreign entanglements, he was most concerned that “inveterate antipathies” and “passionate attachments” might lead citizens to “betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country.” Since then, Americans have viewed with ambivalence the connections of their fellow citizens to ancestral homelands. On the one hand, as a nation of immigrants, Americans have accepted dual affections for both nations of origin and the United States as a common and expected aspect of hyphenated ethnic-American identities. On the other hand, Americans have also regarded persistent foreign ties suspiciously, seeing them as a reflection of potential disloyalty and a threat to national security.

Adding to contemporary concerns about foreign attachments has been the steady growth, particularly since the 1980s, of diaspora populations who have sought to influence US foreign policies toward their homelands. The potential members of such diasporas include not only recently settled immigrants, whose numbers the 2010 US Census reported had reached 38.5 million and 12.5 percent of the American population, but also multiple generations of previously established American ethnic groups. Recent immigrants from countries that began sending immigrants to the United States three or four generations ago, such as Irish youths seeking employment and Jews seeking asylum, have revived ethnic groups’ interests in their national origins and given new life to organizations that seek to shape US foreign policy toward . . .

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