International Politics

, Volume 54, Issue 3, pp 373–388 | Cite as

“… ‘a foundation-hatched black’: Obama, the US establishment, and foreign policy”

  • Inderjeet Parmar
  • Mark Ledwidge
Original Article


US foreign policy has a largely unacknowledged racial dimension due to the racial characteristics of the US foreign policy establishment, and in shared mindsets in a soon-to-be ‘majority-minority’ nation. White Anglo-Saxon Protestant racial–ethnic and class factors produce managed change through socialisation in an attenuated meritocratic order, adapting to challenges to elite dominance by incorporating rising talent, without altering broader patterns of power. The greatest success of such a system is the assimilation of the most elite minority individuals, even as the bulk of those groups’ members continue to experience discrimination. Such success would be compounded by election to the highest office of a minority US president extolling the virtues of post-racial politics. President Barack Obama represented a ‘Wasp-ified’ black elite, assimilated into the extant structures of power that remain wedded to a more secular, non-biologically racial, version of Anglo-Saxonism or, more broadly, liberal internationalism. Hence, it should occasion little surprise that there was so little change in US foreign policies during Obama’s two-term presidency.


Race Establishment Anglo-Saxon WASP Liberal internationalism Elite socialisation 


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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of International PoliticsCity, University of LondonNorthampton Square, LondonUK
  2. 2.Department of History and American StudiesCanterbury Christ Church UniversityCanterburyUK

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