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Monday, March 20, 2006

Stephen Walt's War with Israel

Yesterday, I published an excerpt of a despicable piece of writing called The Israel Lobby, which appeared in the London Review of Books. The article was long and tedious and was written by two anti-Israeli academics - the same two who in a paper published by the Harvard School of Government, to which I also linked, argued that AIPAC runs the United States government. The Israel Lobby is simply the thinking man's Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Today in The American Thinker, there is a powerful answer to Professors Walt and Mearsheimer. I will reproduce some of it below, but it's well worth reading the whole thing. Hat Tip: Little Green Footballs.


It is a work without a trace of balance, in essence no more than an angry polemic disguised as academic research. “The Israel Lobby” is a long, bitter, op-ed piece given a patina of respectability because of where the authors are employed. They may feel themselves protected from criticism by tenure and their titles. They live and work in the proverbial ivory towers of an academic environment that has become an Arab-subsidized lobby against Israel.

Walt and Mearsheimer have an axe to grind. They don’t much care for Israel, and they resent the power of those whom they believe have influenced American policymakers to support Israel in its long conflict with some of the Arab states and the Palestinians. The authors do pay lip service to defending Israel’s right to exist. But their attacks on Israel fail every basic test of fairness, and lead one to believe they would prefer a world without Israel.

The professors’ attempt to promote the good deeds of Syria in the war on terror is particularly laughable. Syria has opened its border to virtually every jihadist willing to kill Americans in Iraq. It has attempted to undermine every serious peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, or between Israel and its other neighbors since Israel’s founding. Syria occupied Lebanon for over 15 years, has treated terrorist groups as proxies for Syria, has been implicated in the assassination of the leader of Lebanon, and has openly served as a conduit for over 10,000 missiles delivered to Hezbollah terrorists in Southern Lebanon – who seemingly run their own Islamic terror state within a state.

The professors also cavalierly argue that an Iranian nuclear capability is no threat to America. These “experts” seem to be unaware that Iran has consistently been ranked as the number one terror state in the world by our State Department (a charge they would probably discount since in their delusional world, the Jews control even the famously anti-Israel State Department). But Shiite Iran, with missiles purchased from North Korea, can reach many of the Sunni Arab states that the authors argue are America’s real allies in the region, and also Europe.

Are the professors unaware of the thousand year rivalry between the Shiites and Sunnis in the Islamic world? Are Europe and the Arab states not areas of strategic interest for America? During his presidency, Jimmy Carter enunciated what later became known as the Carter Doctrine: an attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf Region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.

Jimmy Carter, and his National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski have always been considered two of the most anti-Israel national figures. The Carter Doctrine was not about protecting Israel. The Sunni nations around what they consider the “Arab Gulf” would feel threatened by Iranian hegemony in the region – as we all should be. An Iran in possession of nuclear arms would be in a position to greatly threaten the region and probably lead to a nuclear arms race in the most unstable region in the world. The current need to restrain Iran has nothing to do with Israel. It has everything to do with America and its role as the defender of the West. Are nuclear weapons in the hands of a fanatic Islamist state, committed to the destruction of America and the infidel states of Western Europe, something to be shrugged off?

The Role of AIPAC

Walt and Mearsheimer aim most of their fire at the supposed power of AIPAC, the America Israel Public Affairs Committee. The authors express powerful frustration in their inability to turn America against Israel. Their anger with Israel and the pro-Israel lobby lead them to indulge in some of the kinds of malicious attacks and charges that are routinely found on neo-Nazi websites where the “all-powerful Jews” are blamed for everything that is wrong with the world. They avoid telltale phrases, but the underlying arguments betray the same logic. For instance, the authors succumb to claiming that “AIPAC, a de facto agent for a foreign government, has a stranglehold on Congress.” The Congress, in other words, is Israeli-controlled territory. The neo-Nazis have coined a slogan for this charge: they call Congress part of the Zionist Occupation Government, or ZOG. Evidence of the authors’ political bedfellows is the ringing endorsement of the Walt/Mearsheimer document by Ku Klux Klansman David Duke who called it “vindication.” Harvard and University of Chicago professors are now swimming, or at least sticking their toes, in that fetid swampland.

The authors decry AIPAC’s power but acknowledge that what AIPAC does, is perfectly legitimate.


The Iraq war is a source of much of the Israel-loathing which is just beneath the surface in the Walt/Mearsheimer article. The authors promote the theory that America went to war with Iraq in 2003 because of Israel, and in particular, at the direction of Israel’s Likud Party and Ariel Sharon and their flacks in the American neoconservative movement. There were certainly Jews who supported the war with Iraq, though as even the authors admit, Jewish Americans disproportionately opposed the war, with a far higher percentage opposed to the war than among the general population. So much, one would think, for the proposition that the Jews drove America to war. But the professors want us to ignore the general disapproval of the war by American Jews, for what is important are the powerful neoconservative voices, who pushed Bush and Cheney to war. To believe this theory, Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld, and Condi Rice and Colin Powell were mere pushovers and puppets for the likes of Douglas Feith and Paul Wolfowitz and Lewis Libby.

Characterizing this as suggesting the cart is pulling the horse is too kind to the authors’ theory. In fact, people such as Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle have always been consistent in their views opposing tyranny. They worked to bring down Communism, acted to save Bosnian Muslims and Iraqi Shiites from genocide, tried to stabilize Somalia and protect its citizens from the depredations of warlords, and have acted to stop the genocide in the Sudan. These actions are not particularly pro-Israel, as much as they are anti-dictatorship and pro-human rights.

The nations that directly benefited from the downfall of Saddam were Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq itself, since all these nations and peoples suffered from the sadism of Saddam. If Israel also benefited (a big “if”), it certainly was not a prime beneficiary. Perhaps, these experts should be more aware of a basic statistical principle: correlation does not prove causation. Israel may have been aided by Iraq’s liberation, but it does not prove – except in the delusional world of the authors – that tiny Israel (or a tiny minority of American Jews) caused the war to happen.

As I said before, read it all.


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