Bashing Mearsheimer and Walt

Stephen Walt

John Mearsheimer

In an earlier post I discussed an article authored by two of my favorite political scientists, John Mearsheimer (the Wendell Harrison Professor of Political Science at Chicago) and Stephen Walt (the Robert and Renee Belfer Professor of International Affairs at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard) on the Israel Lobby which was published in the new issue of the London Review of Books. I'd assumed that the article (which was based on a research paper that I haven't read yet) would iginte a heated debate and some controversy. And it should. After all, the the Israeli Lobby, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is not only the most powerful foreign policy looby in Washington but has exerted an enormous (and that's an understatment!) influence on U.S. policy in the Middle East, a region in which American intervention has resulted in major costs for the American people(terrorism, wars, a lot of $$$). I've been at the receiving end of attacks by the Lobby and its many front-organizations and satellites. But I was trying to figure out how these guys were going to deal with Mearsheimer and Walt who aren't, after all, one of those radical, left-wing, pro-Arab professors that David Horowitz loves to bash. Mearsheimer and Walt are full-time members of the inner-circle of the U.S. foreign policy establishment and its more "realist" wing and maintain close personal and professional ties to the Power Elite in Washington. In short, it's not your "loony left" (Noam Chomsky... Noam Chomsky...) or the "isolationist right" (Pat Buchanan... Pat Buchanan...).So what are you going to do?: You associate Mearsheimer and Walt with... forget Chomsky and Buchanan... David Duke! And the Moslem Brotherhood. Seriously. The following was published in the neocon daily,
New York Sun Here are some hghlights:
David Duke Claims to Be Vindicated By a Harvard Dean
BY ELI LAKE - Staff Reporter of the Sun
March 20, 2006
A paper recently co-authored by the academic dean of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government about the allegedly far-reaching influence of an "Israel lobby" is winning praise from white supremacist David Duke.
The Palestine Liberation Organization mission to Washington is distributing the paper, which also is being hailed by a senior member of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist organization.
But the paper, "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy," by the Kennedy School's Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago, is meeting with a more critical reception from many of those it names as part of the lobby. The 83-page "working paper" claims a network of journalists, think tanks, lobbyists, and largely Jewish officials have seized the foreign policy debate and manipulated America to invade Iraq. Included in this network, the authors say, are the editors of the New York Times, the scholars at the Brookings Institution, students at Columbia, "pro-Israel" senior officials in the executive branch, and "neoconservative gentiles" including columnist George Will.
Duke, a former Louisiana state legislator and one-time Ku Klux Klan leader, called the paper "a great step forward," but he said he was "surprised" that the Kennedy School would publish the report.
"I have read about the report and read one summary already, and I am surprised how excellent it is," he said in an e-mail. "It is quite satisfying to see a body in the premier American University essentially come out and validate every major point I have been making since even before the war even started." Duke added that "the task before us is to wrest control of America's foreign policy and critical junctures of media from the Jewish extremist Neocons that seek to lead us into what they expectantly call World War IV."
Mr. Walt said last night, "I have always found Mr. Duke's views reprehensible, and I am sorry he sees this article as consistent with his view of the world."
"I think that the people who wrote that report were working for the interest of the American people," a senior member of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood's guidance council, Abdulmo'em Abulfotah, said yesterday. "I ask a question here: Is it in the interest of the American people to clash with 1.3 billion people in favor of 5 million people who represent the Zionist project? Not even the Jews, but the Zionists."

A professor at Harvard Law School, Alan Dershowitz, whom the authors call an "apologist" for Israel, said he found much of the paper to be "trash." He said, "It could have been written by Pat Buchanan, by David Duke, Noam Chomsky, and some of the less intelligent members of Hamas. An intelligent member of Hamas would not have made these mistakes."
Those mistakes for Mr. Dershowitz include, for example, the assertion that "There is no question, for example, that many Al Qaeda leaders, including bin Laden, are motivated by Israel's presence in Jerusalem and the plight of the Palestinians," which Mr. Dershowitz says "is just absurd."
Mr. Dershowitz was particularly troubled by the claim in the paper that Israeli "citizenship is based on the principle of blood kinship." He pointed out that the authors had conflated Israel's law of return with its criteria for citizenship. "That's right from the neo Nazi Web sites. Anybody can be a citizen of Israel. He confuses the law of return for the criteria for citizenship. He never mentions that a Jew cannot be a citizen in Jordan and Saudi Arabia," Mr. Dershowitz said.
A retired lecturer at Harvard, Martin Peretz, who is editor of The New Republic, a magazine named in the report as one of those that "zealously defend Israel at every turn," said, "It is easier to attribute disloyalty to Jews than to question the loyalty of Islamists. This is really questioning the loyalty of Jews, that is what this is about. Everyone is looped in, even people who are a little dicey about Israel like Aaron David Miller and Howard Dean. This goes from the lobby in capital letters, from Jerry Falwell to every left wing Jewish Democrat in the House. It is the imagining of a wall to wall conspiracy and therefore it's nutsy."

Another way the authors say the Israel lobby exercises influence is through think tanks. Under the subchapter heading "Think Tanks that Think One Way," the authors say, "Pro Israel forces have established a commanding presence at the American Enterprise Institute, the Brookings Institution, the Center for Security Policy, the Foreign Policy Research Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Hudson Institute, the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis, and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA)."
The president of the Hudson Institute, Herbert London, said the notion that his institution had a standard line on American policy to Israel "was patently absurd." He pointed out that a senior fellow at his institute was the former director of the National Security Agency, William Odom, who has not only been a vociferous critic of Israel but also the Iraq war.

What can I say? Eli Lake could certainly get a job at the original Pravda. Now.. let's see... four years ago, as Israeli troops led by PM Ariel Sharon were launching a devasatating attack on the Palestinian Authority, French right-winger Jean-Marie Le Pen, who has been accused of being an anti-Semite and racist, expressed support for Sharon and the Israeli action in an interview with Haaretz.
Jean-Marie Le Pen Cheers Israel's attack on Palestinians
BY ELI Fake - Staff Reporter of the Sun
April 4, 2002
Israel's attack on the Palestinian Authority's infrastructure in the West Bank has been hailed by French politician Jean-Marie Le Pen, who has been accused by many critics of being an anti-Semite. Le Pen told Israel's Haaretz that he have would adopted PM Sharon's strategy and expressed some concern that the Israeli public hasn't been supportive of these policies.

Or how about leading articles on vegeterians, environmentalist and anti-smokers and pet-loves with a favorable quote from Adolph Hitler or his followers:

Head of the U.S. Nazi Party:
The Fuhrer would have voted for Congressman John Smith
By Eli Fake
Hans Reichmaster, the leader of the U.S. Nazi party is certain that "the Fuhrer would have voted for Congressman John Smith." Indeed,Congressman John Smith and Adolph Hitler have so much in common: They were both vegetarians, they both campaigned for the environment and against smoking, and they both had pets. Congressman Miller refused to respond to his endorsement by Reichmaster.

On a more serious note: Although I had some reservations about several of the arguments made by Mearsheimer and Walt, let's make something clear: AIPAC and Israel are political entities and not Jewish religious icons and critical comments about them shouldn't be equated with anti-Semitism. Many of the responses by the Lobby's supporters are quite silly and wrong. Note the comments by London from the Hudson Institute. I mean, their Middle East center is headed by an American-Israeli Likudnik who also happens to be married to leading neocon official David Wurmser. So if a repurted anti-Semite who was married to a partner of David Duke would be heading a Center for Jewish Studies in some think tank we would not have a right to question its objectivity?


Anonymous said…
>Martin Peretz, who is editor of The New Republic<

It's time to admit that it is not antisemitic to say out loud that The New Republic places the interests of Israel above the interests of the United States.
Laney blogging at

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