Elected officials, and especially presidential candidates, are increasingly asked to define their relationships to special interest groups. Such special, or private, interests play a disproportionate role in politics and legislation, whether in the form of large commercial or ethnic lobbies or in the shadowy realm of backroom dealmaking. This book argues that widespread public disinterest in global affairs, a prevailing characteristic of American political culture, has given private interest groups a paramount influence over the formulation and implementation of U.S. foreign policy. These well-organized, well-funded groups affect all levels of government, disguising their own interests as vital national interests. The book draws from numerous historical examples, dating from America's founding to the present, to examine the causes and the serious consequences of Americans' apathy toward foreign policy. This unique historical analysis of our increasingly privatized system of government offers compelling evidence that the United States is a democracy not of individuals, but of competing and powerful private groups.