Executive Branch Foreign Relations & International Law

Chatter: Why Foreign Policy Elites Matter with Elizabeth Saunders

David Priess, Elizabeth Saunders
Thursday, April 4, 2024, 9:00 AM
What influence does the "blob" actually have on foreign policy making? 

Published by The Lawfare Institute
in Cooperation With

The "deep state." The "blob." Foreign policy elites are often so labeled, misunderstood, and denigrated. But what influence on presidents and on public opinion do they actually have?

Elizabeth Saunders, professor of political science at Columbia, has researched this topic deeply and written about it in her new book, The Insiders' Game. David Priess spoke with her about her path to studying foreign policy, the ups and downs of archival research, the meaning of foreign policy "elites," the differences between the influences of Democratic and Republican elites, a counterfactual President Al Gore's decisionmaking about invading Iraq, pop cultural representations of foreign policy elites, how heightened polarization changes the dynamics of elite influence, and more.

Among the works mentioned in this episode:

Chatter is a production of Lawfare and Goat Rodeo. This episode was produced and edited by Cara Shillenn of Goat Rodeo. Podcast theme by David Priess, featuring music created using Groovepad.

David Priess is Director of Intelligence at Bedrock Learning, Inc. and a Senior Fellow at the Michael V. Hayden Center for Intelligence, Policy, and International Security. He served during the Clinton and Bush 43 administrations as a CIA officer and has written two books: “The President’s Book of Secrets,” about the top-secret President’s Daily Brief, and "How To Get Rid of a President," describing the ways American presidents have left office.
Elizabeth Saunders is a professor of political science at Columbia.

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