September 04, 2007
The venerable, highbrow publisher—Farrar, Straus and Giroux—is publishing the bombshell book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy this week. In a recent blog entry, “The Lobby Strikes”, Justin Raimondo gave us a heads-up on the book. You may have wondered, as I have, if it was really necessary for researchers at Harvard and at the University of Chicago to do a scholarly study whose conclusions and observations are self-evident, based upon data and circumstances which have been staring everybody in the face for decades.
Yes, it was essential. Under the odd, prevailing situation in Ex America, it is virtually impossible for any politician in Washington to tell the truth about America’s Middle East policy and it is unrealistic to expect any mainstream journalist to spell out what is actually going on with respect to the same subject matter. They do so at their peril. This fact buttresses the conclusions of the Mearsheimer-Walt study itself, whose book publication will, alas, probably not change the overall picture a whit, at least not on Capitol Hill.
After initially ignoring “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy” when it appeared as a Harvard University academic “working paper” in early March of 2006, the Israel First crowd has adopted a backup strategy to deal with the controversy. It boils down to this: professors John Mearsheimer and Steven Walt are so benighted, and their views so erroneous, that they should not be allowed to discuss the contents of the book on their own in polite society. They must be assisted/accompanied/counterbalanced by the likes of Abe Foxman and Allan Dershowitz to keep the American public from being misled. If not, all appearances publicizing the book will be taken as an affront.
In this regard, ADL’s executive director, Abe Foxman, has written a book specifically to counter The Israel Lobby, and Amazon.com offers the two as a package deal. In similar fashion, Harvard law professor Dershowitz felt compelled to compose a “debunking” response to his fellow professors in April of 2006. The Harvard Crimson quoted Dr. D as referring to Mearsheimer and Walt as “liars” and “bigots”. Noted “neocon” and Iraq war enthusiast, professor Eliot Cohen, ensconced at The John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, called Walt and Mearsheimer’s work product “a wretched piece of scholarship…inept, even kooky…yes, this paper is anti-Semitic” in his hysterical piece in The Washington Post of April 5th, 2006.
We can only conclude from the above remarks by their vociferous critics that Mearsheimer and Walt must be doing something right. Whom are you going to believe, Abe, Al and Eliot—or your lying eyes? Clearly, the “neocons” and the apparatchiki for Tel Aviv want to keep the lid on this whole topic at all cost. They regard it as their private preserve. The last thing the thought police want is for bimbosapiens in America to connect the indelible ink dots linking the long-term occupation of Palestine, the invasion of Iraq, and the upcoming bombardment of Iran. All of these events are made possible by “useful idiot” politicians in Washington authorizing grandiose foreign policy initiatives and dispensing extravagant “foreign aid” for reasons which need to be explained, and fast.
In an interview aptly entitled “Grabbing the Third Rail” in July of 2006, Mearsheimer and Walt defined The Lobby as “a loose coalition of groups and individuals who spend a considerable amount of time working to make sure that American foreign policy supports Israel, regardless of what Israel does. We emphasize this is not a Jewish lobby, because it does not include all Jewish Americans and, furthermore, it includes Christian Zionists, who are an important part of the lobby.”
By that straightforward definition, the Israel Lobby is not necessarily composed of malefactors and opportunists, but it does mean that characters like the aforementioned attack dogs—Foxman, Dershowitz and Cohen—are definitely a part of it. Like the rest of The Lobby, they are used to getting their way, feel an overwhelming sense of entitlement, and are clearly annoyed when confronted with an opposing point of view.
Further along in the same “Grabbing the Third Rail” interview: “Many people, especially on the left, believe that American policy in the Middle East is driven in large part by oil interests”and here we’re talking about the oil companies and the oil-producing states in the region. This is an intuitively attractive argument, but there is little actual evidence that the oil companies and the oil-producing states are driving the United States’ Middle East policy, and there’s a lot of evidence that the Israel lobby is the main force behind the policy.”
With respect to the left-wing habit of assuming oil to be the ultimate, behind-the-scenes rationale for Washington’s lunatic policies throughout the Middle East, I take the liberty, for what it may be worth, of quoting from my book, published in the summer of 2005: “Oil is good, gentlemen, but oil is not running this show and is not the controlling influence. The ongoing humanitarian crisis of the Middle East, decades in the making, is not driven by oil. Politicians in Washington do not spend their waking hours thinking about oil. They think about votes, campaign contributions, a good press, and about the next election. That is what they are fixated upon, and what makes them vulnerable.”
When “The Israel Lobby” first appeared on the radar screen in the London Review of Books, I wrote a little item entitled “Harvard Speaks” dated March 20th, 2006. This was for a prior incarnation of Taki’s Top Drawer. Herewith my thoughts at that time…
“Professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt are to be congratulated for pointing out the ten ton pink pachyderm sitting in the corner of the room, which creature everybody has tried hard to ignore. To say that Mearsheimer and Walt have produced a blockbuster is an understatement. It is more like a bunker-busting nuclear cruise missile, if that is not too indelicate a term. They cover the subject from all angles with matter-of-fact, deadpan precision.
“From the sidelines, in my own eccentric, non-professorial way, I have been calling attention to many of the same facts and curious circumstances for years. It is encouraging to know that, safe behind the thick battlements of Academe, there still exists isolated diehards of sanity and clear-sightedness, immune to the brainwash and the bankroll. The question now is, will anything positive come out of this devastating study by these two scholars and their research assistants? Will their “working paper”, as it is called, be buried by the mainstream American news media, not to mention Washington itself?
“If this most important report is ignored, the reason will be that it reflects horribly upon the Republicans, upon the Democrats, upon the entire Washington establishment, upon Israel, and by implication upon the American media itself. In brief, it is a red hot potato which no one, except those on the margins, will want to touch.
“A central contention of “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy” is that the Lobby’s tremendous power is predicated not upon morality, the legitimate interests of the United States, or upon geopolitical ideas proffered by those brilliant thinkers, the “neoconservatives”. Rather, it all comes down to cash, to wit, political campaign contributions, backed up by good old-fashioned intimidation.
“This racket, this scandal, has been in place for decades. It is highlighted in my book, published in July 2005, The Unauthorized World Situation Report: ‘That a powerful lobby is taking full advantage of the situation is unfortunate, of course, but on the other hand, who can blame it for doing so? Capital Hill has allowed itself to become a door mat. Raw domestic politics overrules and dictates foreign policy, and Uncle Sam is being taken for a ride.’ (Page 122.)
“We can hardly blame the Israeli Lobby for the laziness, the ignorance and the corruption of America’s elected officials. These hollow men and women are simply a reflection of our own laziness, ignorance and corruption. Thanks to POTUS 41, 42, 43 and to Congress, Ex America has been led further and farther astray.”
Among piles of unread and half-read newspapers stacked in my rooms, not too long ago I came across the following item from the January 23rd, 2006 edition of The New York Observer by Fred Kaplan, the national-security columnist for Slate.com, the “liberal” internet news site. Kaplan is reviewing State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration by James Risen: “…if Mr. Bush had known everything that James Risen has subsequently discovered, would he have gone to war? Probably he would have…. Still it is stunning to realize that, nearly three years after the fact—and despite dozens of books and hundred of incisive newspaper and magazine articles—we don’t yet know why this war took place.”
We don’t? Is it really such a mystery? Read The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, and then decide. If you have the insight of Israeli peace activist and commentator Uri Avnery as evidenced in his April 25th, 2006 essay “Who’s the dog? Who’s the tail?”, you will conclude with Avnery that “The findings of the two professors are right to the last detail.”