Saying the Unsayable – The Israel Lobby and US foreign policy (Andrew Stephen in New Statesman)

The links between the Israel lobby and US foreign policy are a Washington taboo. But a controversial new study is opening up a long-stifled debate….

Perhaps it is hard, for those of us who are not Jewish, to understand the passion and intensity with which America’s Israel lobby pursue their goals. It would have been helpful if Mearsheimer and Walt had tried, dispassionately, to explore why they are so often driven, sometimes to the excesses I have described. But the authors are too busy with their prosecutorial charge-sheet to pause and wonder. We read all too much about AIPAC, but next to nothing about the Project for the New American Century – a genuinely sinister group that included the now-discredited neocons but also, more crucially, non-Jewish fanatics such as Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and John Bolton.
In my opinion it, far more than the likes of AIPAC, was responsible for the foreign-policy calamities – culminating in the Iraq tragedy – that have occurred under George W Bush.
We should be grateful to Mearsheimer and Walt, nonetheless, for embarking on their near-impossible task and bringing out into the open a rancorous issue that desperately needs to be addressed by all concerned. The passions and anger – and, indeed, anti-Semitism – are such that writing a detached and lucid book on this subject is probably impossible. Heaven knows what Mearsheimer and Walt have been through, but we should all now hope that it has been worth it and that their book marks the beginning of a new and more open era when it comes to this most painful of subjects.

Saying the Unsayable – The Israel lobby and US foreign policy (Andrew Stephen in New Statesman)

‘Israel lobby’ op New Statasman-site

Israel lobby op VK-site

De (pro-Groot-) ‘Israel lobby’ in Nederland: een noodzakelijke inventarisatie


5 thoughts on “Saying the Unsayable – The Israel Lobby and US foreign policy (Andrew Stephen in New Statesman)

  1. Vorige week zag ik Alexander Pechtold op de TV, met boven zich een groot reclamebord waarop de tekst DE KRACHT VAN HET INDIVIDU was aangebracht…; een mooie tekst natuurlijk, vooral voor iemand die zich anarcholiberaal noemt, maar ook een tekst die weinig te maken heeft met de werkelijkheid van alledag waarin een eenling zelden wordt aangemoedigd sterk te zijn…
    Je ziet het hier op het VK-blog, een wereld waarin eenlingen die een algemeen geaccepteerde groepscode afwijzen zelden de bewondering krijgen die ze in een vrije, democratische rechtstaat verdienen.
    Op zijn eigen site heb ik de opvattingen van Pechtold nog eens bekeken:
    "Leiderschap vereist durf", lees ik: "De durf om af te wijken, om te zeggen wat sommige mensen liever niet horen. Geen taboes, geen dogma’s. Eerlijke politiek, herkenbare standpunten, ook als ons door andere partijen dat niet in dank wordt afgenomen…"
    Een mooie stelling natuurlijk, waarin principedenken boven opportunisme wordt geplaatst, maar het probleem is dat in de wereld van macht en geld mensen die principes hebben altijd verdacht worden gemaakt door mensen die het principe hebben ingeruild voor aan dom makende geloofswaarheden gekoppeld eigenbelang.
    GELOOF & EIGENBELANG aanvallen. De vraag is wie je de KRACHT geeft dat te doen.

  2. ..Moreover, Israel and its lobby bear outsized responsibility for persuading the Bush Administration to invade Iraq and, perhaps one day soon, to attack the nuclear facilities of Iran.
    Farrar, Straus & Giroux will publish a book-length version of Mearsheimer and Walt’s arguments on September 4th…
    Mearsheimer and Walt are not anti-Semites or racists. They are serious scholars, and there is no reason to doubt their sincerity.
    They are right to describe the moral violation in Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands. (In this, most Israelis and most American Jews agree with them.) They were also right about Iraq. The strategic questions they raise now, particularly about Israel’s privileged relationship with the United States, are worth debating––just as it is worth debating whether it is a good idea to be selling arms to Saudi Arabia. But their announced objectives have been badly undermined by the contours of their argument—a prosecutor’s brief that depicts Israel as a singularly pernicious force in world affairs.
    Mearsheimer and Walt have not entirely forgotten their professional duties, and they periodically signal their awareness of certain complexities. But their conclusions are unmistakable: Israel and its lobbyists bear a great deal of blame for the loss of American direction, treasure, and even blood.
    In Mearsheimer and Walt’s cartography, the Israel lobby is not limited to AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. It is a loose yet well-oiled coalition of Jewish-American organizations, “watchdog” groups, think tanks, Christian evangelicals, sympathetic journalists, and neocon academics. This is not a cabal but a world in which Abraham Foxman gives the signal, Pat Robertson describes his apocalyptic rapture, Charles Krauthammer pumps out a column, Bernard Lewis delivers a lecture—and the President of the United States invades another country. Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Exxon-Mobil barely exist.
    Where many accounts identify Osama bin Laden’s primary grievances with American support of “infidel” authoritarian regimes in Islamic lands, Mearsheimer and Walt align his primary concerns with theirs: America’s unwillingness to push Israel to end the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. (It doesn’t matter that Israel and the Palestinians were in peace negotiations in 1993, the year of the first attack on the World Trade Center, or that during the Camp David negotiations in 2000 bin Laden’s pilots were training in Florida.) Mearsheimer and Walt give you the sense that, if the Israelis and the Palestinians come to terms, bin Laden will return to the family construction business…
    Taming the influence of lobbies, if that is what Mearsheimer and Walt desire, is a matter of reforming the lobbying and campaign-finance laws. But that is clearly not the source of the hysteria surrounding their arguments. “The Israel Lobby” is a phenomenon of its moment. The duplicitous and manipulative arguments for invading Iraq put forward by the Bush Administration, the general inability of the press to upend those duplicities, the triumphalist illusions, the miserable performance of the military strategists, the arrogance of the Pentagon, the stifling of dissent within the military and the government, the moral disaster of Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo, the rise of an intractable civil war, and now an incapacity to deal with the singular winner of the war, Iran—all of this has left Americans furious and demanding explanations. Mearsheimer and Walt provide one: the Israel lobby. In this respect, their account is not so much a diagnosis of our polarized era as a symptom of it. a remarkably-fair piece about Walt and Mearsheimer in the latest New Yorker, the magazine’s editor, David Remnick, summarizes part of the scholars’ argument:
    Israel and its lobby bear outsized responsibility for persuading the Bush Administration to invade Iraq and, perhaps one day soon, to attack the nuclear facilities of Iran.
    And then accepts it. "They were also right about Iraq."..

  3. Some time in the next few days the website will be activated–right now it’s a blank–and The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, by John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt, will be published by FSG. This is a historic book. The authors’ LRB paper last year created an intellectual sensation I’ve never witnessed, and notwithstanding the desire of the lobby that the book disappear, I imagine the splash this time will be mainstream. Walt and Mearsheimer will be on television. That likelihood is increased by David Remnick’s flat assertion, in an advance piece on the book that generally threw water on the scholars, that they are right to say that the lobby bears responsibility for the Iraq war…Most stunning is the argument that Remnick accepts: the authors’ description of the Iraq disaster as arising from the lobby’s pressure. I study this issue, and yet I turned the pages of this chapter with my mouth open, especially the pages dealing with the manipulation of intelligence, and evidence of Israel’s hand in the WMD lies. It is this section that should and must stir national debate, and now…

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