Walt Mearsheimer Run into Opposition

Apparently, Walt and Mearsheimer, the “realist” proponents of what some of us believe to be a suicidal foreign policy are running into problems on what they expected to be a triumphal tour at the publication of their book. It’s a deeply flawed work, drawing on material from “advocacy websites” some of which have links to some really nasty sites. And they refuse — like their “moral” counterpart, Jimmy Carter — to debate the dubious merits of their work. So there have been cancellations.

August 16, 2007
Backlash Over Book on Policy for Israel

By PATRICIA COHEN
“The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy” is not even in bookstores, but already anxieties have surfaced about the backlash it is stirring, with several institutions backing away from holding events with the authors.

John J. Mearsheimer, a political scientist at the University of Chicago, and Stephen M. Walt, a professor at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, were not totally surprised by the reaction to their work. An article last spring in the London Review of Books outlining their argument — that a powerful pro-Israel lobby has a pernicious influence on American policy — set off a firestorm as charges of anti-Semitism, shoddy scholarship and censorship ricocheted among prominent academics, writers, policymakers and advocates. In the book, published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux and embargoed until Sept. 4, they elaborate on and update their case.

“Now that the cold war is over, Israel has become a strategic liability for the United States,” they write. “Yet no aspiring politician is going to say so in public or even raise the possibility” because the pro-Israel lobby is so powerful. They credit the lobby with shutting down talks with Syria and with moderates in Iran, preventing the United States from condemning Israel’s 2006 war in Lebanon and with not pushing the Israelis hard enough to come to an agreement with the Palestinians. They also discuss Christian Zionists and the issue of dual loyalty.

Opponents are prepared. Also being released on Sept. 4 is “The Deadliest Lies: The Israel Lobby and the Myth of Jewish Control” (Palgrave Macmillan) by Abraham H. Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League. The notion that pro-Israel groups “have anything like a uniform agenda, and that U.S. policy on Israel and the Middle East is the result of their influence, is simply wrong,” George P. Shultz, a former secretary of state, says in the foreword. “This is a conspiracy theory pure and simple, and scholars at great universities should be ashamed to promulgate it.”

The subject will certainly prompt furious debate, though not at the Center for the Humanities at the Graduate Center at the City University of New York, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, a Jewish cultural center in Washington and three organizations in Chicago. They have all turned down or canceled events with the authors, mentioning unease with the controversy or the format.

The authors were particularly disturbed by the Chicago council’s decision, since plans for that event were complete and both authors have frequently spoken there before. The two sent a four-page letter to 94 members of the council’s board detailing what happened. “On July 24, Council President Marshall Bouton phoned one of us (Mearsheimer) and informed him that he was canceling the event,” and that his decision “was based on the need ‘to protect the institution.’ He said that he had a serious ‘political problem,’ because there were individuals who would be angry if he gave us a venue to speak, and that this would have serious negative consequences for the council. ‘This one is so hot,’ Marshall maintained.”

Mr. Mearsheimer later said of Mr. Bouton, “I had the sense that this phone call pained him deeply.”

Mr. Bouton was out of town, but Rachel Bronson, vice president for programs and studies at the council, said, “Whenever we have topics that are particularly controversial or sensitive, we try to make sure someone from another point of view is there.” In this case, she said, there was not sufficient time to set up that sort of panel before the council calendar went out. There are no plans to have the authors speak at a later date, however.

“One of the points we make in the book is that this is a subject that’s very hard to talk about,” Mr. Walt said in an interview from his office in Cambridge. “Organizations, no matter how strong their commitment to free speech, don’t want to schedule something that’s likely to cause controversy.”

After the cancellation Roberta Rubin, owner of the Book Stall, a store in Winnetka, Ill., offered to help find a site for the authors. She said she tried a Jewish community center and two large downtown clubs but they all told her “they can’t afford to bring in somebody ‘too controversial.’ ” She added that even she was concerned about inviting authors who might offend customers.

Some of the planned sites, like the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue, a cultural center in Washington, would have been host of an event if Mr. Mearsheimer and Mr. Walt appeared with opponents, said Esther Foer, the executive director.

Mr. Walt said, “Part of the game is to portray us as so extreme that we have to be balanced by someone from the ‘other side.’ ” Besides, he added, when you’re promoting a book, you want to present your ideas without appearing with someone who is trying to discredit you.

As for City University, Aoibheann Sweeney, director of the Center for the Humanities, said, “I looked at the introduction, and I didn’t feel that the book was saying things differently enough” from the original article. Ms. Sweeney, who said she had consulted with others at City University, acknowledged that they had begun planning for an event in September moderated by J. J. Goldberg, the editor of The Forward, a leading American Jewish weekly, but once he chose not to participate, she decided to pass. Mr. Goldberg, who was traveling in Israel, said in a telephone interview that “there should be more of an open debate.” But appearing alone with the authors would have given the impression that The Forward was presenting the event and thereby endorsing the book, he said, and he did not want to do that. A discussion with other speakers of differing views would have been different, he added.

“I don’t think the book is very good,” said Mr. Goldberg, who said he read a copy of the manuscript about six weeks ago. “They haven’t really done original research. They haven’t talked to the people who are being lobbied or those doing the lobbying.”

Overall Mr. Mearsheimer said he thinks the response to their views will be “less ferocious than last time, because it’s becoming increasingly difficult to make the argument in a convincing way that anyone who criticizes the lobby or Israel is an anti-Semite or a self-hating Jew.” Both Mr. Mearsheimer and Mr. Walt pointed to the growing dissatisfaction with the war in Iraq, criticism of Israel’s war in Lebanon and the publication of former President Jimmy Carter’s book “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid” as making it somewhat easier to criticize Israel openly.

“This isn’t a cabal; this isn’t anything secretive,” Mr. Walt said.

American Jews who lobby on Israel’s behalf are not all that different from the National Rifle Association, the anti-tax movement, AARP or the American Petroleum Institute, he said, “They just happen to be really good at it.”

“It’s the way American politics work,” he continued. “Sometimes powerful interest groups get what they want, and it’s not good for the country as a whole. I would say that about the farm lobby and about the Cuba lobby.”

To the authors, dual loyalty is as American as Presidents’ Day sales and “Law & Order” reruns. As Mr. Mearsheimer explained: “People are allowed to have multiple loyalties. They have religious loyalties, loyalty to family, to an organization and you can have loyalty to other countries. Someone who is Irish can have a loyalty to Ireland.”

“The problem,” he said “is when you raise the subject of dual loyalty, many people tend to think of it in the context of the old anti-Semitic canard and making the argument that Jews are disloyal to the U.S.”

In print and in interviews both authors have stressed that they hold no animus towards Israel or Jews. “We think Israeli policy is fundamentally flawed,” Mr. Mearsheimer said, “just as we think American policy is fundamentally flawed.”

And some of us who have read your earlier essay think it is fundamentally flawed. Stay tuned.

36 Responses to Walt Mearsheimer Run into Opposition

  1. Michael B says:

    I wonder how many realize just how profoundly repugnant, ultimately and in too many respects, W-M’s offering is, on intellectual, academic, ethical/moral, social/political and other levels as well; very much a Carteresque sendup. Their arrogations, together with using the imprimatur of their academic standings and settings, reflects a primary repugnance for anyone who is soundly conversant with what they are forwarding. I’m only reflecting upon the essay as I haven’t read the book, which I will obtain only via a library or if I should happen upon a discarded copy in a back alley, but I suspect the book is very much of a piece with the essay and likewise suspect I’m not going out on a limb with that suggestion.

  2. fp says:

    well, morally repugnant attitudes and deeds have always existed, particularly with respect to jews, so that’s nothing news. since that has become fashionable again, my guess is that M&W will have more invitations than cancelations.

    But one of the reasons of why morality is failing is not because the decline of faith (as RL implies), but rather because secular-humanist education has collapsed. when truth is no longer based on the scientific method and empirical evidence from reliable sources, then there is blindness to the factual merits of M&W and only then can support for them can be perceived as moral. For if they were accurate in their thesis, their position would be less morally problematic.

    But as academia increasingly gives up scientific principles and dismisses knowledge and reason (see MESA, el-Haj tenure, Cambridge U Press, UCU boycott) and produces generations who believe in just intuition and personal life experience — thus being gullible to the hilt and ideological rather than analytical — reality will become increasingly immoral, which is why islamism is not seen as the danger it is, and why the likes of M&W can even publish such garbage.

    RL response: I don’t think it’s because of a decline in faith if by that you mean religious faith, unless by that you mean faith in the Western experiment in freedom that we are heirs to. And the collapse of secular humanist education is not an accident. Secular humanism is a very young faith that has major kinks to work out (including its blanket contempt for earlier faiths). Why do you think it has failed?

  3. Walt and Mearsheimer are very good at couching what they say in “soft” terms. For example, when they say, “it’s becoming increasingly difficult to make the argument in a convincing way that anyone who criticizes the lobby or Israel is an anti-Semite or a self-hating Jew.” they are subtly turn themselves into victims of “Jewish Backlash”with out actually accusing anyone of victimizing them. Never mind that Israel and Jews in general, of all people in the world, have an outstanding record of being able to accept and use well-intended criticism. This mild complaint winds up painting Israel with a kind of totalitarian repressiveness that is entirely without foundation. In fact, repression is much more characteristic of both the Progressive Academic hot house that Walt and Mearsheimer and Walt typify and the Palestinian/Arab/Islamic world they seem to champion.

    Butter would not melt Walt’s mouth when he says, “American Jews who lobby on Israel’s behalf are not all that different from the National Rifle Association, the anti-tax movement, AARP or the American Petroleum Institute, he said, “They just happen to be really good at it.” but his subliminal message is unmistakable. The Jews ARE different- its a sly, “Elders of Zion” kind of turn of phrase- even in comparison to lobbying pros like AARP and American Petroleum Institute he feels he must say that those Jews are really good at it. This is a double-edged sword, on one hand he implies that Jews have that preternatural knack for clouding and warping honest men’s minds and on the other Jews do not really want to engage in true dialog.

    But the true purpose of their innuendo becomes clear when the article goes on to say, “They (Walt and Mearsheimer) credit the lobby with shutting down talks with Syria and with moderates in Iran, preventing the United States from condemning Israel’s 2006 war in Lebanon and with not pushing the Israelis hard enough to come to an agreement with the Palestinians.” It could not be clearer. Walt and Mearsheimer have found the perfect excuse to ignore the facts. Blame these things on the Jews and we don’t need to discuss whether or not they have merit. But the facts are:
    Fact one: The Lobby did not shut down talks with Syria, Syria did that by not being a real partner in talks.
    Fact Two: If they are thinking of Khatami as a moderate they are just plain mistaken. Iran’s real moderates are opposed to him and Ahmadinejad.
    Fact Three: The United States did not condemn Israel’s War in 2006 because that war (for all its being poorly carried out) was entirely justified and was prosecuted in as humane and surgical a way as any war in the annals of warfare.
    Fact Four: Israel, as anyone who isn’t Jewicidal knows, needs no more pressure to come to agreements. She has continually given up too much with no reciprocation from the Arab side.

    Their allegations against Israel and The Lobby are obviously false and in their frustration, Walt and Mearsheimer want to get away with not discussing that uncomfortable fact by pointing the finger at Jews and calling us “Powerful”.

    precisely. the very phrasing makes it so that any policy Israel favors is, by definition, bad. it’s very much like the constant refrain you hear in europe when you defend israel: “oh, I didn’t know you were Jewish” – as if defending Israel could only be partisan and illogical for anyone but a Jew.

  4. Michael B says:

    “anlystical”? A Bushism?

    But no, I don’t see what you mean in terms of your sweeping and reductionist statements. Obviously you also make some reasonable points, but then you leverage them beyond what they otherwise merit. Have a good weekend.

  5. fp says:

    Mike,

    Well, at least I am making empirical statements not utterly abstract ones.

    Anyway, the various links that I provide here are not .1% of what I see. So in fact I think I am understating the problem. Methink the problem is not that my position is overstated or inaccurate, but rather that it is a reality which is hard to accept.

    But boy oh boy, how I wish I were wrong.

  6. fp says:

    Yaakov,

    My take on W&M — looks like it squares with yours.

    “THE ISRAEL LOBBY AND US FOREIGN POLICY”: QUACKING LIKE A DUCK

    When America panics, it goes hunting for scapegoats.
    –Frank Rich, New York Times

    Quite a few in the media picked up on The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy paper by two Harvard academics. In The US’s geopolitical nightmare William Engdahl writes:

    The most fascinating indication of a sea-change within the US political establishment toward the Bush Doctrine and those who are behind it is the developing debate around the 83-page paper, first published on the official website of Harvard University, criticizing the dominant role of Israel in shaping US foreign policy.

    Note very carefully: “dominant role of Israel in shaping US foreign policy”—in other words the Israel lobby distorted US policy away from its own interests and towards Israel’s. So much so, apparently, that some of the US elite got sufficiently fed up to finally start debating Israel’s responsibility for the consequences of the US misguided foreign policy.

    Indeed, the article quotes some of the two authors’ “conclusions about the Israel lobby’s goals” (emphasis added):

    · “No lobby has managed to divert foreign policy as far from what the American national interest would otherwise suggest, while simultaneously convincing Americans that US and Israeli interests are essentially identical.”

    · US supporters of Israel promoted the war against Iraq. The senior administration officials who spearheaded the campaign were also in the vanguard of the pro-Israel lobby, eg Wolfowitz; under secretary of defense for policy Douglas Feith; Elliott Abrams, Mideast affairs at the White House; David Wurmser, Mideast affairs for Cheney; Richard Perle, first among neo-con equals, chairman of the Defense Policy Board, an influential advisory body of strategic experts.

    · A similar effort is now under way to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities.

    · The American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is fighting registering as foreign agents because this would place severe limitations on its congressional activities, particularly in the legislative electoral arena. American politicians remain acutely sensitive to campaign contributions and other forms of political pressure and major media outlets are likely to remain sympathetic to Israel no matter what it does.

    Let’s get this straight: the only superpower, whose global preponderance those Neocons believed was unparalleled, relied for its foreign policy on—gulp—the “capacities of Israel”, and was somehow manipulated and exploited by Israel’s lobby to act against its own interests? And this is the serious issue that deserves debating?

    Consider now the US doctrines/policies to which the Israel lobby supposedly drove the US:

    The chance was to deliver on the US strategic goal of control of petroleum resources globally, to ensure the US role as first among equals over the next decade and beyond … There the president outlined a radical departure in explicit US foreign policy in two vital areas: a policy of preventive war, should the US be threatened by terrorists or by rogue states engaged in the production of weapons of mass destruction; second, the right of self-defense authorized the US to launch preemptive attacks against potential aggressors, cutting them off before they were able to launch strikes against the US.

    Are these the kind of perceptions of US interest that would be induced by the Israel lobby? Are these perceptions of Israel’s interests, not the US’s?

    In fact, by their own evidence, the circumstances were quite the opposite of what the Harvard authors claim:

    Authors Walt and Mearsheimer also note that Perle and Feith put their names to a 1996 policy blueprint for Benjamin Netanyahu’s then incoming government in Israel, titled, “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm” (Israel). In that document, Perle and Feith advised Netanyahu that the rebuilding of Zionism must abandon any thought of trading land for peace with the Palestinians, ie, repeal the Oslo accords. Next, Saddam Hussein must be overthrown and democracy established in Iraq, which would then prove contagious in Israel’s other Arab neighbors. That was in 1996, seven years before Bush launched a near-unilateral war for regime change in Iraq … For all this to succeed, Perle and Feith wrote, “Israel would have to win broad American support.” To ensure this support, they advised the Israeli prime minister to use “language familiar to Americans by tapping into themes of past US administrations during the Cold War, which apply as well to Israel”. An Israeli columnist in Ha’aretz accused Perle and Feith of “walking a fine line” between “their loyalty to American governments and Israeli interests”.

    So it’s the US policy makers who “advised” the Israeli prime minister on how to fit within what they perceived the US interests, and tried to make him believe that was Israel’s interest too. Thus, it looks like US policy makers manipulated the Israeli government to do their bidding with Congress and the US public, rather than the other way around (which is how Ha’aretz concern could be interpreted).

    There is no disputing that the lobby exerted itself in the US political system. But it did so not differently or more than any other interest group, domestic or foreign. In fact, what is really driving US policy, domestic and foreign, almost exclusively are corporate interests, and almost always against the national and public interest (see, for example, HOSTILE TAKEOVER and OVERTHROW), to the point of decimating the society. Engdahl seems oblivious to the fallacy of the lobby argument when he proceeds to discuss the application of exactly the same US doctrines and policies with respect to Latin America, China and North Korea, for which the Israel lobby cannot possibly be held responsible.

    The notion that Israel’s lobby drove US policy against US’s own interests is preposterous on its face. Why, then, do the professors, Engdahl and others now single out Israel’s role as the one that lacks appropriate debate and should be challenged?

    Well, suppose your society experiences dire consequences and approaches a crisis. If you came from the right, from an elite business oriented academic institution, and advise a government by corporations for corporations, wouldn’t you want to distract the public away from the real root of flawed US policies? And if you came from the left and do not want to accept and admit the other real root of the policies—an uninformed, apathetic, gullible public who permits its own manipulation and exploitation (see, for example, this week’s political quote)—what would you likely do? A scapegoat would do nicely in both cases.

    Now, how did anti-semitism arise and express itself in history? In times of societal crisis, particularly where the population is uneducated and uninformed, there are always those who point to scapegoats, preferably ethnic/racial/foreign, and quite often Jews fit the bill. The difference is that now the Jews have a state, are no longer reduced to reliance on morally apathetic others to save them (like, for example, the Darfur people had to). And scapegoating a state rather than a people can obscure a racist streak.

    Engdahl writes:

    The paper was written by two highly respected US foreign-policy realists and consultants to the State Department. The authors are neither neo-Nazi skinheads nor anti-Semites. Mearsheimer is political-science professor and co-director of the Program on International Security Policy at the University of Chicago. Walt is academic dean and a chaired professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Both are members of the Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy.

    Note, first, the trick of contrasting the authors with neo-Nazi skinheads: since they are not that, they must be OK. And second, the implicit notion that “highly respected” (let’s assume they are) academic consultants to government are incapable of racism; if you believe that, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

    In fact, racism in general, and anti-semitism in particular occur at all levels of society, and the more educated and sophisticated the affected, the better they are at obscuring it. Academic status does not automatically absolve one of the capacity for racism, if history, including the American one, is any guide.

    So, if it quacks like a duck…

  7. fp says:

    And here’s more evidence defeating M&W and validating my position:

    For the Record – let’s look a gift horse in the mouth
    http://www.israpundit.com/2006/?p=5562

    Note particularly the comments by yamit.

  8. Joanne says:

    The New York Times article says:

    “To the authors, dual loyalty is as American as Presidents’ Day sales and ‘Law & Order’ reruns. As Mr. Mearsheimer explained: ‘People are allowed to have multiple loyalties. They have religious loyalties, loyalty to family, to an organization and you can have loyalty to other countries. Someone who is Irish can have a loyalty to Ireland.’”

    It also says:

    “American Jews who lobby on Israel’s behalf are not all that different from the National Rifle Association, the anti-tax movement, AARP or the American Petroleum Institute, [Mearsheimer] said, ‘They just happen to be really good at it.’”

    The above quotes are examples of a tactic Walt and Mearsheimer apparently like to use: They sometimes soften their language to show that they’re not demonizing the Jewish lobby, that they see the Jewish lobby as a normal player in the game of US politics. This tactic presumably protects them from charges of being anti-Semites or conspiracy theorists. After all, they’re not saying that AIPAC is especially awful, only that it represents a special interest, like the NRA.

    But the thing is, you don’t hear anyone speak about the Irish hijacking US foreign policy into supporting, or at least not opposing, the IRA. You don’t hear anything about the Cubans’ hijacking US policy, encouraging the USA to hold that ridiculous boycott of Castro that’s only provided an excuse for his failings, and generated another rift between the US and other Latin American countries. No.

    Of course, someone could answer that the Middle East is a more dangerous and far-reaching issue than Ireland or Cuba, and they would have a point. But I still feel that Walt and Mearsheimer are dissimulating here. At other times, they seem to use language that sounds close to conspiracy theory, that is indeed over the top. Sorry, I cannot think of examples now, but I’m sure most people have read at least bits and pieces from their paper or their statements, or heard them on videos.

    And, hey, if they want to talk about the powerful behind-the-scenes influence of a dubious Middle Eastern country whose interests differ from America’s, why not speak about Saudi Arabia? God, I wish Israel had oil!

    I think that Walt and Mearsheimer fail to distinguish between a government that’s been hijacked by Israeli interests and a government that simply reflects a political culture with a deeply rooted pro-Israel orientation, an orientation that most presidents and legislators are loath to challenge, and that many may well share. Because W&M cannot understand why anyone in his right mind would be pro-Israel, they assume that it must be a question of undue influence or pressure.

    I’m guessing that Mearsheimer and Walt reflect the views–albeit in a more extreme form–of many others in the political elite. I’ve long had the impression that many people in academia and the State Department are embarrassed and frustrated by America’s close relationship with Israel. They pretty much agree with their European counterparts about Israel, but, unlike their European counterparts, they’re saddled with a government and a general public that is largely pro-Israel. When I say “government,” I don’t just mean Bush’s administration; the US has generally been pro-Israel for the last several decades, or at least far friendlier to Israel than the Europeans have been. To these American academics or diplomats or government analysts, the US’s stance on Israel is another embarrassing case of American exceptionalism.

    Two problems I see in the immediate future:

    1. The fact that they’ve been dropped from several events will only play into W&M’s hands. W&M will get out the word about each and every place that refuses them a forum, as this will only demonstrate the point they make in their book. These refusals may have happened because the organizations themselves think W&M are borderline conspiracy theorists, or maybe because the organizations fear a negative reaction by the general public. But W&M will say–are saying–that it just shows that anyone speaking out against Israel in the US will be muzzled…by you know whom.

    2. This book will be an immediate hit among Europeans, where their famous (and well-deserved) skepticism vis-à-vis American conservatives is not equally directed at the enemies of American conservatives. Walt and Mearsheimer’s credentials will carry them far. Europeans and others around the world won’t nitpick their book for inaccuracies; they’ll just lap up the message from such prestigious sources.

    On this same note, I must say that I wish that the new book countering W&M had not been written by Abraham Foxman. You have to be kidding! He is the poster child for the “Jewish Lobby.” No one reading Walt and Mearsheimer’s book will give Foxman’s volume a single look. Foxman is compromised from the start, and his book will just be seen as one long press release from the ADL. Such a book should not even be written by Dershowitz, whom most critics of Israel also don’t take seriously. It should have been written by independent scholars with credentials as impressive as those of W&M, and who would presumably do better research and state a better case. The problem is, where are such scholars?

  9. fp says:

    Well, that’s exactly what I said in my several posts above

    To quote: In fact, racism in general, and anti-semitism in particular occur at all levels of society, and ***the more educated and sophisticated the affected, the better they are at obscuring it***.

    And your 2 problems are spot on.

    I agree on Foxman too — that would be a political, not scholarly book. However, as a scholar myself, I would not want to waste my time debunking this crap, which would inhibit doing real valuable research.

    But to be honest I doubt that even if a scholarly rebuttal were written, it would not have a serious impact because there is very little audience for serious scholarly work. The western population neither appreciates it, nor is capable of digesting it.

  10. Joanne says:

    Thanks, fp. Anyway, I wasn’t talking about a scholarly rebuttal. I was referring to a book written by scholars for the general public, much like W&M or Jimmy Carter’s books.

  11. fp says:

    I doubt a real scholar would write anything at the level of Carter or W&M :). And if not a real scholar, then it would be as suspect.

    The problem is that real scholars tend to focus on scholarly work which means something for their careers.

    Besides, there is nothing to refute really, for they have no well-defined hypothesis, nor evidence. So it’s not worth wasting a book on it.

  12. Joanne says:

    Well, Walt and Mearshiemer are academics, and apparently highly successful ones, so they might dispute your notion about “real scholars.” There are real scholars out there who write real nonsense, so I’m sure some could spare their time to write a jargon-free well-argued and well-supported book.

    As for M&W’s hypothesis not being well-defined, I thought it was very well defined, although you’re probably right about lack of evidence.

    M&W have a clearly defined point to make: that the power of the Israel lobby has caused US foreign policy to be turned in directions against its national interest, i.e., that our current level of support for Israel is not in the US’s national interest. Simple enough.

    Their point is so simple that it will probably be easily absorbed by the public, whether by those who read the book or read reviews about the book or hear about it on television. That’s the danger, the hypothesis is all too clear, and all too clearly and pithily stated.

    A credible book–or several–would well be worth the effort. To say that such books should be well researched does not mean that they have to be only for an academic audience. Such books should be as clearly written as M&W’s, and they should be written by experts (in government or academia, retired or currently working) who would be ready to make their arguments at forums and on television.

    It’s needed, believe me. M&W’s book will have a lot of impact, especially coming on the heels of Carter’s.

  13. fp says:

    We may agree on the “quality” of current academics more than you think. Hence I dk why you are so ready to consider W&M real scholars.

    Successful academics do not necessarily real scholars make. In fact, more often than not these days there is a negative correlation between successful careers and scholarly work.

    W&M may have a well-defined point for the current public, which by definition must be simplistic, not just simple. That’s not, however, a proper scholarly hypothesis. For that you have to specify a methodology to validate it (or, more correctly, to fail to refute it). It’s because they did not specify such that they could do what they did rather than serious pertinent primary research and produce acceptable evidence.

    Their work has already very readily been shown as something that would fail as a student master thesis.

  14. Joanne says:

    Oh, screw the methodology!

    I said that this would be a book for the general public. It can still be a good journeyman’s job of stating a case and supporting it. Right now, I’m reading Michael Oren’s book on 1967. He’s a real scholar, and the book is very readable.

    Whatever! I think we’re splitting hairs here, fp. This really isn’t worth disagreeing over. I still say that it’s too bad an intelligently written book by a professor, or say, a journalist of substance, couldn’t have been produced to counter W&M. Rather than a book by a lobbyist.

    That’s it! Discussion over. I’m outta here. :-)

  15. fp says:

    Why would any scholar waste time to prove how much of a crock their work is when just a short blog piece like the one i linked to in 8 above or even one of the comments to it can do the job so devastatingly? And, if you forgive me for the conceit, I could do it so easily in such a short piece.

  16. fp says:

    oren did not write 1967 to refute crap. He wrote a serious history book.

    We’re not disagreeing. I just think you give too much credit to W&M. A scholar would raise their level by deeming their work serious enough to refute.

    And speaking of academics:

    http://www.americanthinker.com/2007/08/appeasement_finds_a_home_in_th.html

  17. Eliyahu says:

    One more point should be made about w-m. That is, Mearsheimer was invited to the convention of Daily Kos, the so-called “leftist” website. Here we have “consultants to the State Department,” that is, W & M, who have become heroes to some loosely wrapped “leftists.” It is an interesting convergence. Mearsheimer showed up in a gray suit [don't recall whether he was wearing a vest], white shirt and tie. An obvious Establishmentarian. His audience was on the whole dressed “informally.” It’s almost as if Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara had been invited to the convention of the SDS Weathermen faction back in the Sixties.

    W-M’s big argument is that Israel and the pro-Israel lobby [= Jews and Christian Zionists] control US foreign policy in the Middle East against “American interests.” In other words, Israel is against “American interests.” Are those interests “imperialist”? If so, why aren’t the “Leftists” supporting Israel??

    What I want to know is just what those interests are. Are they US pandering to Arab monarchies and dictatorships for the sake of OIL, or the control of ME oil or persuading Arabs not to be “revolutionaries”??? Just what are those interests? Does the Daily Kos gang share those interests? Could they be described as “imperialist interests”?? Did anybody at the Kos convention ask Mearsheimer to explain what interests W-M have in mind?

    Links to a video of M’s speech are on the Kesher Talk site, if I recall rightly.

  18. fp says:

    Eliyahu,

    Both your points are covered in my piece that i posted above:

    >It is an interesting convergence.

    “Well, suppose your society experiences dire consequences and approaches a crisis. ***If you came from the right***, from an elite business oriented academic institution, and advise a government by corporations for corporations, wouldn’t you want to distract the public away from the real root of flawed US policies? ***And if you came from the left*** and do not want to accept and admit the other real root of the policies—an uninformed, apathetic, gullible public who permits its own manipulation and exploitation —what would you likely do? A scapegoat would do nicely in both cases.”

    If there was ever an issue on which leftists and rightists agreed, it was anti-semitism. It’s one of the universals.

    >What I want to know is just what those interests are.

    Consider now the US doctrines/policies to which the Israel lobby supposedly drove the US:

    “The chance was to deliver on the US strategic goal of ***control of petroleum resources globally, to ensure the US role as first among equals over the next decade and beyond*** … There the president outlined a radical departure in explicit US foreign policy in two vital areas: ***a policy of preventive war, should the US be threatened by terrorists or by rogue states engaged in the production of weapons of mass destruction***; second, ***the right of self-defense*** authorized the US to launch preemptive attacks against potential aggressors, cutting them off before they were able to launch strikes against the US.

    Are these the kind of perceptions of US interest that would be induced by the Israel lobby? Are these Israel’s interests, not the US’s?”

  19. fp says:

    What is more, the piece I linked to above in 8, demonstrates that it’s just the opposite: that US policy distorts Israeli interests in favor of US’s:

    For the Record – let’s look a gift horse in the mouth
    http://www.israpundit.com/2006/?p=5562

    Which is becoming clearer and clearer as time passes.

    This was also covered in my piece:

    “So it’s the US policy makers who “advised” the Israeli prime minister on how to fit within what they perceived the US interests, and tried to make him believe that was Israel’s interest too. Thus, it looks like US policy makers manipulated the Israeli government to do their bidding with Congress and the US public, rather than the other way around (which is how Ha’aretz concern could be interpreted).”

  20. fp says:

    As is usually the case, the US uses allies temporarily, then abandons them when it’s convenient.
    Nothing new here.

  21. Joanne says:

    fp,

    I think that’s the same with any power. In what must’ve been a rare moment of candor, Charles de Gaulle said that France has no friends, only allies. And if he’s distinguishing between “friends” and “allies,” then his definition of “allies” must be a narrow, utilitarian and necessarily transitory one.

    The US, France, and all countries, especially major powers, are loyal to one thing: their national interests. That doesn’t mean that they will never have a policy or program without an ulterior motive; some policies are altruistic, like aid programs. But even these policies cannot compromise national interests.

    If Israel were really to be a detriment to American interests, or were perceived to be a detriment to American interests, that would be a very serious state of affairs for Israel. And don’t think that another power would step in the take America’s place (as the USA did after de Gaulle broke with Israel in 1967). Most powers realize that the Arab world offers far more advantages, and can inflict far more punishment, than Israel ever could.

    Israel pays a heavy price for its alliance with the United States, in terms of its image and unhealthy dependence. It would pay even more dearly if that alliance were ever sundered.

  22. Joanne says:

    Sorry, that first paragraph was gramatically off: I should have written:

    “…In what must’ve been a rare moment of candor, Charles de Gaulle once said that France has no firneds, only allies. And if he was distinguishing between ‘friends’ and ‘allies,’ then his definition of ‘allies’ must have been a narrow, utilitarian and necessarily transitory one.”

    A matter of verb tense.

  23. fp says:

    i agree. the only difference is that america pretends to be different, unique, better than any of them.

    many years ago, a long time before M&W and the US left and all that I predicted that one day will come when the US will, mistakenly, consider israel a liability. that is now occurring. and you are correct in that there will be no substitute.

    but that’s only a logical implication of the us being the superpower: a superpower is inherently prone to accelerate its own demise — a universal rule in history. And when the demise starts, beware. The barbarians are at the gate, as the romans would confirm, desperation sets in, and desperation means acceleration. Watching iraq and the faliling bush-rice imbecillity is a depressing, scary thing.

  24. fp says:

    not faliling, flailing.

  25. Eliyahu says:

    fp & Joanne, let’s not just talk against W-M. Let’s look for some serious theses about who does control US policy. C Wright Mills came up with the Power Elite theory. Ferdinand Lundberg came up with America’s Sixty Families. Neither of those guys is Jewish but I think there is a lot to be said for both theories. Hence, instead of defensively refuting W-M, maybe we should point to Mills and Lundberg’s theories. We might point out the influence of the State Dept’s Policy Planning Council. The official on the Council in charge of the Middle East was Wm R Polk, back in the Sixties. Recently, Prof Polk came with a paper or “report” or whatever, written together with ex-Sen McGovern, known to be hostile to Israel. I believe that the Baker-Hamilton report, W-M, the Carter tract and the Polk-McGovern paper were probably part of a concerted effort to produce anti-Israeli changes in US public opinion.

    Polk is interesting as a kind of split personality. On one hand he has produced some real scholarship about Lebanon in the 19th century; on the other hand, he is a State Dept propagandist. In a recent post on my blog, I show how Polk produced an embellished, edulcorated picture of Islam, from Muhammad’s time till the 20th century. Indeed, Edward Said lied when he claimed that Western scholars & govts were mean to poor Islam. Polk put out his pro-Muhammad, pro-Islam book back in the Fifties. See my analysis of Polk’s Muhammad-philia at:

    http://ziontruth.blogspot.com/2007/07/embellishing-muhammad-islamic-conquests.html

    fp & Joanne, try to talk about Mills and Lundberg’s theories rather than merely saying that W-M are lying.

  26. Eliyahu says:

    In line with the above discussion, I think we could say that members of the Quaker church [Society of Friends], a much smaller group than the Jews, are much more influential than the Jews in shaping US foreign policy, at least proportionately and probably in absolute terms too.

  27. fp says:

    different policy areas are influenced by different concentrations of power which often overlap. to figure them out follow large money contributions to the parties.

    giving the corporation rights equivalent to a person was one of the most destructive decisions insofar as the american system is concerned (something which jefferson predicted would corrupt the system). corporations have long distorted us national and international policy away from the public interest.

    it’s from that direction that w&m come.

  28. Joanne says:

    I think that the power elite is far more numerous, diverse and diffused than in the 1950s. There may be some powerful families, but there are other centers of power peopled by those who come from ordinary backgrounds but who are now in academia, the media, government, political parties, and think tanks.

    They don’t even always agree with each other, but they influence each other, sometimes through personal contact, but more often through the general political culture that they share, by reading the same books and articles, seeing the same movies, and what not.

  29. fp says:

    More validation that my assessment of us decline and prediction for consequences for israel were accurate:

    Uncle Sam forever?
    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3439268,00.html

  30. fp says:

    Walt-Mearsheimer and the war over the Israel Lobby, round two
    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/896812.html

  31. [...] good sense and the spirit of open discussion. I thought the offers were withdrawn because W-M refused to debate and discuss openly with opponents. Mearsh [...]

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