Mum's The Word

Monday, April 3, 2006 11:27 PM

Well, here it is at last. Formal notice in a major American newspaper of the recent Harvard/University of Chicago study about the U.S. Israeli Lobby. (See below.) This most informative and topical essay--entitled "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy"--was published in The London Review of Books last month. Appropriately, the newspaper giving formal notice is The Washington Post. I say appropriately, because Washington is the major crime scene at issue.

United Press International made mention of the study on March 20th. Haaretz of Tel Aviv has been running articles denouncing professors Stephen Walt of Harvard and John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago since at least March 18th. True, the Wall Street Journal did have a guest op-ed piece ridiculing their work on March 22nd. But still, the U.S. "newspaper of record", The New York Times has yet to utter a word about this important scholarly paper. The silence has been deafening, most especially on American "liberal" internet outlets, which are constantly kicking Bush in the pants for the war, as if this flawed individual alone were to blame.

Many on the Left, who think the Democrats are somehow going to save us from G.W. Bush and his horrible "neoconservative" Republicans, evidently do not want to hear about anything which is off message or which implicates both political parties for decades in an unbalanced, ill-advised and inhumane foreign policy. America's policy in the Middle East has been routinely  outsourced by one Administration after another, for domestic political reasons, to Tel Aviv and to Tel Aviv's formidable network of double agents and fellow travelers on site inside the United States.

And guess what? Most everybody "in the know" knows it. Ask yourself, with respect to the current extravagant debacle, would Washington have even considered invading Iraq if the "Israel Lobby" had, for some Machiavellian reason, opposed the invasion, instead of actively promoting it? In fine, Washington is not going to do what Tel Aviv does not want Washington to do. The  word "Washington" is meant to convey the professional, suborned politicians nominally in charge there. The word "Tel Aviv" is meant to convey both Tel Aviv and its Lobby.

Foreign policy historians Mearsheimer and Walt have done little more than make observations and state conclusions which are perfectly obvious. For this, they are being childishly lambasted as "anti-Semitic" by all the usual attack dogs, because the attack dogs are positively addicted to getting their own way and do not want to be contradicted. Harvard professor Alan "Chutzpah" Dershowitz pointedly suggests that these two scholars have destroyed their professional reputations. For telling the truth, they may indeed have done just that. What does this say about the sorry state of Ex America?

Quite a lot, none of it good. Over on the Right, at the intellectually bankrupt National Review website, Neocon jackass Mike "faster, faster please" Ledeen informs the benighted: "The Israel Lobby is really dumb....  It should dissuade rational Harvard and Chicago donors from giving any further money to the Kennedy School (where one author, Steven Walt, was, incredibly, the academic dean until his abrupt resignation following the publication of the unfortunate screed) or to the Chicago political-science department (where John Mearsheimer holds an endowed chair)." Get the message? Crucify them!

Among piles of unread and half-read newspapers stacked in my rooms, 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, 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? Come again? Is it really such a mystery? Read The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, and then decide. This "working paper" is well written and anything but dumb. No wonder it is being studiously ignored or hysterically denounced.

Report on Effect of Israel Lobby
Distorts History, Critics Say

Michael Powell //Washington Post Staff Writer // Monday, April 3, 2006

Two prominent academics, a dean at Harvard and a professor at the University of Chicago, have stirred a tempest by writing a paper arguing that the Israel lobby often persuades the United States to set aside its own security to pursue the best interests of Israel.

"No lobby has managed to divert U.S. foreign policy as far from what the American national interest would otherwise suggest, while simultaneously convincing Americans that U.S. and Israeli interests are essentially the same," the authors wrote in a paper posted on the Web site of Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government. "The United States has a terrorism problem in good part," they add a few pages later, "because it is so closely allied with Israel, not the other way around."

The report, written by Kennedy School Dean Stephen Walt and John J. Mearsheimer, a professor at the University of Chicago, has ignited criticism. Academic critics, newspaper editorial pages and conservative bloggers have accused the professors of distorting history and trucking in anti-Semitic stereotypes. Harvard Law professor Alan M. Dershowitz says the professors "destroyed their professional reputations."

"We've heard all this before, the talk of powerful Jewish lobbies and the language one hears on Arab and extreme right-wing Web sites," Dershowitz said in an interview. "This is paranoid and conspiratorial."

Marvin Kalb, a senior fellow at the Kennedy School, said the report was filled with errors, not least the assertion that Israeli forces were better armed and positioned than the Arab armies in the 1947-1948 war. "It does play into the terrible argument that Jewish no-goodniks control the media and our foreign policy," Kalb said.

The professors, in fact, cast blame widely. They pointed at the powerful lobbying group American Israel Public Affairs Committee and at neocon intellectuals, the editorial pages of the New York Times and think tanks such as the American Enterprise Institute and the Brookings Institution, which they say all reveal a pro-Israel slant.

And they are not without academic support. Juan Cole, a professor of Middle Eastern studies at the University of Michigan, suggests the authors make commonplace points--that U.S. Middle East policy is driven disproportionately by those who favor Israel, and that this lobby resorts to all manner of vile accusations to discredit opponents.

"There's nothing intellectually wrong with arguing that U.S. policy in the Middle East is dislodged from its natural moorings by the power of a domestic constituency," Cole said. "But most people are timid--they don't want to be smeared and risk having their lives ruined."

Walt and Mearsheimer, leaders in what is known as the "realist" school of foreign policy and stringent critics of the war in Iraq, embarked on their study in 2002 in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks, as the drums beat loudly for an invasion of Iraq. They described a constellation of Christian evangelicals and neocon intellectuals, including then-Defense Department officials Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas J. Feith, who strongly supported Israel and advocated an aggressive expansion of U.S. power in the Middle East.

They unsuccessfully shopped their article--which pointedly relies on much Israeli scholarship--here before the London Review of Books published it in March. An academic, footnoted version was posted on the Kennedy School Web site--but as the controversy raged, the Harvard logo was removed.

"We are arguing it's difficult to fully explain the remarkable level and the unconditional level of U.S. support for Israel by reference to strategic interests or purely moral interests," Walt said in an interview last week. "We knew that some of the responses would not be gentle or fair."

The professors say Israel's American allies have skewed the national interest, inflamed Islamic opinion and endangered U.S. policy around the world. Foreign policy elites, they write, believe U.S. support for Israel's "repression in the occupied territories is morally obtuse and a handicap in the war on terrorism." Nor, they say, is there much evidence the war in Iraq was about oil. "Instead the war was motivated," they wrote, "by a desire to make Israel more secure."

The authors draw a distinction among Jewish groups, which often have supported the Iraq war, and American Jews, who have opposed the war in greater proportion than most Americans.

Their critique has drawn applause from some liberal Jewish critics. But left-wing Jewish intellectual Noam Chomsky--a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology--wrote that the professors took a naive view of U.S. foreign policy. Although he applauded their courage in standing up to "anticipated hysterical reaction," Chomsky wrote that throughout the 20th century a broad swath of the political intellectual class has favored a muscular and illegal exercise of imperial power, in the Middle East and worldwide.

"Has it been a failure for U.S. grand strategy based on control of . . . middle eastern oil and the immense wealth from this unparalleled material prize? Hardly," Chomsky wrote. University of Maryland professor Shibley Telhami is a fellow at the Brookings Institution and describes the professors as "incredibly bold" at stirring policy and theoretical debates. But, although Telhami is a critic of the war, he does not believe Jewish neocons and their Christian supporters forced the United States into the war.

"There's no doubt that neocons long wanted a war," Telhami said. "But in the end it was the decision of a president who was super-empowered after 9/11 and who could have ignored them."

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