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:

The book The Insiders' Game by Elizabeth Saunders

The book Leaders at War by Elizabeth Saunders

The TV show The West Wing

The movie The Hunt for Red October

The TV show The Diplomat

The TV show The Americans

The movie Thirteen Days

The article "Politics Can't Stop at the Water's Edge" by Elizabeth Saunders, Foreign Policy (March/April 2024)

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.

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