Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


International Relations

Reader 1

Jennifer Taw

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 1997 Samuel F Fraser


The 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq was a foreign policy action that violated international law, was based on false premises, and came to represent a clear and costly political disaster for the United States and Iraq. Why then, did none of the top policymakers responsible for the decision to invade face meaningful consequences – be they professional consequences, or legal ones? Why too have so many of the media figures who helped sell this war to the American public remained in their prestigious positions, with massive platforms to influence the American people?

This paper argues that the above groups, referred to as the foreign policy elite or foreign policy establishment, are granted a general impunity for their actions. It seeks to explain this condition of elite impunity, and how it operates, through Robert Putnam’s theory of “elite integration.” It also examines the role of congressional marginalization and public disengagement in enabling the foreign policy elite to escape accountability. The subsequent chapters offer case studies of how each of these factors has helped advance and preserve the careers of two prominent members of the foreign policy elite, Elliott Abrams and Henry Kissinger. Finally, the conclusion explores further questions on the matter of elite impunity, and offers some basic steps towards creating a more accountable foreign policy elite.