The transnationalist US foreign-policy elite in exile? A comparative network analysis of the Trump administration

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Abstract

The presidency of Donald Trump – often framed as a result of a populist revolt against the elites of Washington and Wall Street – and his apparent break with the postwar liberal internationalist foreign-policy elite consensus, has raised fundamental questions about the future of elite power in the USA and the implications for its global role. As established by previous research, America's foreign-policy elite has in the past decades been closely connected to transnationally oriented corporate elite networks, the theme of this special issue. In this article, we address to what extent the Trump presidency represents a real rupture with these extant power structures in the American political system and its foreign-policy establishment. We present the first systematic mapping and social network analysis of Trump, his cabinet and his White House advisers, which, based on a novel biographical data set, compares earlier findings on the elite networks of the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations. While finding some strong continuities, the Trumpian foreign-policy elite is shown to display some very distinctive characteristics, particularly with respect to a lack of previous political affiliations, ties with a different kind of corporate elite, and a disconnect with the policy-planning networks that have been so central to the previous administrations.

Original languageEnglish
JournalGlobal Networks
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Nov 2019

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exile
network analysis
foreign policy
elite
power elite
revolt
political system
social network
continuity
planning
lack

Keywords

  • CORPORATE ELITE NETWORKS
  • FOREIGN POLICY
  • POPULISM
  • TRANSNATIONAL ELITES
  • TRUMP ADMINISTRATION
  • USA

Cite this

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title = "The transnationalist US foreign-policy elite in exile? A comparative network analysis of the Trump administration",
abstract = "The presidency of Donald Trump – often framed as a result of a populist revolt against the elites of Washington and Wall Street – and his apparent break with the postwar liberal internationalist foreign-policy elite consensus, has raised fundamental questions about the future of elite power in the USA and the implications for its global role. As established by previous research, America's foreign-policy elite has in the past decades been closely connected to transnationally oriented corporate elite networks, the theme of this special issue. In this article, we address to what extent the Trump presidency represents a real rupture with these extant power structures in the American political system and its foreign-policy establishment. We present the first systematic mapping and social network analysis of Trump, his cabinet and his White House advisers, which, based on a novel biographical data set, compares earlier findings on the elite networks of the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations. While finding some strong continuities, the Trumpian foreign-policy elite is shown to display some very distinctive characteristics, particularly with respect to a lack of previous political affiliations, ties with a different kind of corporate elite, and a disconnect with the policy-planning networks that have been so central to the previous administrations.",
keywords = "CORPORATE ELITE NETWORKS, FOREIGN POLICY, POPULISM, TRANSNATIONAL ELITES, TRUMP ADMINISTRATION, USA",
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AB - The presidency of Donald Trump – often framed as a result of a populist revolt against the elites of Washington and Wall Street – and his apparent break with the postwar liberal internationalist foreign-policy elite consensus, has raised fundamental questions about the future of elite power in the USA and the implications for its global role. As established by previous research, America's foreign-policy elite has in the past decades been closely connected to transnationally oriented corporate elite networks, the theme of this special issue. In this article, we address to what extent the Trump presidency represents a real rupture with these extant power structures in the American political system and its foreign-policy establishment. We present the first systematic mapping and social network analysis of Trump, his cabinet and his White House advisers, which, based on a novel biographical data set, compares earlier findings on the elite networks of the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations. While finding some strong continuities, the Trumpian foreign-policy elite is shown to display some very distinctive characteristics, particularly with respect to a lack of previous political affiliations, ties with a different kind of corporate elite, and a disconnect with the policy-planning networks that have been so central to the previous administrations.

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