August 29, 2007
Early Responses the John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt's The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy
First in The Forward:
These folks have a case. Major Jewish organizations, including centrist as well as hard-line groups, regularly use their clout to narrow the scope of acceptable public debate on Israel. They cast their net wide, indiscriminately targeting independent-minded allies of Israel along with its sworn enemies. Many pro-Israel dissenters have walked away feeling deeply bruised and disillusioned.
Lately, however, some of Israel’s critics have started learning a few tricks themselves — and rather than enriching the conversation, they are choosing to further muddy it. There are substantial numbers of true moderates in this country who believe deeply in the need for Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation. They struggle to make their voices heard in a hostile political and communal environment, and they naturally look for spokesmen who can capture the public’s attention and help unite and mobilize the peace camp — including, most recently, scholars Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer. We are sympathetic to this quest for leadership, but after firsthand experience of these scholars’ definition of “opening the debate,” we feel compelled to speak up: They’re the wrong guys.
Second, David Remnick in The New Yorker:
Mearsheimer and Walt are “realists.” In their view, diplomatic decisions should be made on the basis of national interest. They argue that in the post-Cold War era, in the absence of a superpower struggle in the Middle East, the United States no longer has any need for an indulgent patronage of the state of Israel. Three billion dollars in annual foreign aid, the easy sale of advanced weaponry, thirty-four vetoes of U.N. Security Council resolutions critical of Israel since 1982—such support, Mearsheimer and Walt maintain, is not in the national interest. “There is a strong moral case for supporting Israel’s existence,” they write, but they deny that Israel is of critical strategic value to the United States. The disappearance of Israel, in their view, would jeopardize neither America’s geopolitical interests nor its core values. Such is their “realism.”
There will be more, to be sure.
Posted by Robin Varghese at 01:04 PM | Permalink