Tuesday, March 21, 2006


I have received requests to express my opinion on the recent Walt-Mearsheimer paper. In short, I was hoping to find an incisive debate over the merits of strategic alliances with Israel. Instead I found that the paper glossed over the interesting aspects (devoting a pallid 2.5 pages to the "moral" component of America's support of Israel) and only ten pages in explains that the only possible reason for U.S. support must be the Israel Lobby. In the context of the article the Lobby is both loosely defined to include AIPAC, The Middle East Forum, Jews in the media, neo-Conservative scholars (who to Prof. Mearsheimer's dismay are not realists) and other ranking diplomats such as Dennis Ross. At other points it seems clear that the Lobby refers to AIPAC specifically. This everywhere-nowhere distinction is problematic to my mind because it allows for the creation of a duality in which both everyone is implicated, but yet still affords room for an Illuminati, which sits at the command center.

The article does not allow for the possibility that the Israel Lobby is compelling on its own accord. It is possible after all to have a wrong (to the minds of Walt and Mearsheimer) argument but still be convincing. The paper seems to only alot for the possibility of undue influence, but does not seriously engage the strategic arguments that the neo-Con school articulates (not to mention non-neo-Con elements of the Israel Lobby, such as Peace Now). And how "letter writing campaigns" constitute undue influence, let alone a serious mention in an article concerning lobbies, seems absurd.

I will leave it here, but I found this piece ("Duke 1, Harvard 0") helpful to point out the factual disagreements various some scholars have with the Walt-Mearsheimer piece.

Additional Thought: I just wanted to mention how I suprized I was that Mearsheimer coauthored this paper. He sits on the International Board of a Bar-Ilan think tank and, though not to his knowledge, got me my position with the JCPA. So I don't know if one could call him anti-Israel, per se.

Great Quote: "We went out of our way to say that the lobby is simply engaging in interest group politics, which is as American as apple pie." -J. Mearsheimer

I think that helps probe what is going through his head.

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