The Fifth Estate: Foreign Lobbyists
Their power is enormous
The Constitution provides for three branches of government: the executive, Congress, and the judiciary – but there have been a few additions lately. With the rise of mass communications, common parlance has designated the media as the “Fourth Estate,” because – in theory – it is supposed to act as a “watchdog” on the activities of the other three. (Although in practice, as we have seen, it often doesn’t work out that way.) And as America entered the age of empire, stepping out on the world stage and exerting its power, a development the Founders foresaw – and greatly feared – became a reality: the rise of foreign lobbyists, i.e. the Fifth Estate, as a power in our domestic politics.
This was inevitable as we took the road to empire. Our foreign clients, protectorates, and sock puppets have a material interest in maintaining the status quo: their life blood depends on the smooth workings of the political machinery that keeps the gravy train flowing from Washington to every point on the globe. “Foreign aid,” arms deals, overseas bases that boost their economies, the deployment of “soft power,” and the architecture of entangling alliances that have enmeshed us all over the world – all of this is defended and relentlessly extended by foreign lobbyists who work day and night to protect and expand their very profitable turf.
The latest newsworthy example is the Saudi lobby, which is working overtime these days to burnish the Kingdom’s badly tarnished image. The recent agitation for the release of the censored 28 pages of the joint congressional report on the 9/11 terrorist attacks – and news reports of their horrific war crimes in Yemen – has them on the defensive.