(at the bottom, in bold, is the important section)
Here is Juan Cole’s original post to which I respond below:
The Philip Weiss hagiography of these two poor sods who only have tenured and prominent positions at Harvard and Chicago to protect them from the evil Jews is right in one part: the part where Mearsheimer notes The Atlantic rejected the paper because they thought “it was terrible.”
Yes, it was.
Let’s go to Drezner. I thought this was the most telling comment in his piece:
The mere existence of the Lobby suggests that unconditional support for Israel is not in the American national interest. If it was, one would not need an organized special interest group to bring it about. But because Israel is a strategic and moral liability, it takes relentless political pressure to keep U.S. support intact.” What’s fascinating about this quote are the implicit assumptions contained within it: i) the only interest group in existence is the Lobby, and; ii) in the absence of the Lobby, a well-defined sense of national interest will always guide American foreign policy. It would be very problematic for good realists like Mearsheimer and Walt to allow for other interest groups — oil companies, for example — to exist. This would allow for a much greater role for domestic politics than realists ever care to admit.
It is precisely this problem that is one of the primary reasons their paper is being called shoddy and they are being accused of antisemitism. At a time when oil company after oil company announces record profits; when a sitting President (non-Jewish, non-Zionist) from a political dynasty with strong links to Saudi leaders and oil; when you have a sitting VP (non-Jewish, non-Zionist) with an energy background – like the President – and connections to the Mid-East that have nothing to do with Israel; when you have huge defense lobbies, a powerful Pentagon, and almost all key Secretaries in the decision-making loop led by non-Jews and having affiliations with groups that have no significant representation, and; when the party in power, holding the House and the Presidency cannot garner more than 25% of the Jewish vote and watches as 70% of Jews oppose the Iraq War, doesn’t it seem a little odd to all these Walt-Mearsheimer lovers that they are focusing on “The Lobby” as the reason the US approaches its policy from its current point of view?
You write in your critique of Drezner:
Mearsheimer and Walt never once use the word or concept of â€œconspiracy.â€ They are talking about ordinary pressure politics. Nor do they use the word â€œdupe.â€
What, Professor Cole, do you think the authors mean when they write that AIPAC is “a de facto agent of a foreign government” in a paper outlining how AIPAC, as part of a larger Jewish (peppered with a few non-Jews) group, works against American interests? Is that not “duping?” Does that not imply that AIPAC is in violation of lobbying rules? If it does this in tandem with the rest of “The Lobby” as they describe it, is that not a conspiracy? Are you suggesting that if the word “conspiracy” does not appear, then it is not part of their premise?
Here’s how they describe The Lobby (and don’t you find it strange that they don’t call it The Israel Lobby but The Lobby, as if it is the only one or the only one that matters?):
We use “the Lobby” as shorthand for the loose coalition of individuals and organizations who actively work to shape U.S. foreign policy in a pro-Israel direction
…Many of the key organizations in the Lobby, like AIPAC and the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organisations (CPMJO), are run by hardliners who generally support the Likud Partyâ€™s expansionist policies, including its hostility to the Oslo peace process.
…The Lobby also includes prominent Christian evangelicals [and] neoconservative gentiles.
In other words, support of Israel qualifies one as part of The Lobby. But don’t worry, they tell us, “Not all Jewish Americans are part of the Lobby, because Israel is not a salient issue for many of them.” Earlier in the paper they point out – in one brief sentence lost in a larger paragraph – that this number is 36% of Jewish Americans.
Therefore, despite the fact that a vast majority of Jews voted Democrat and opposed the Iraq War, in the W&M Jew Paradigm, a majority belong to this manipulative, lying, conspiratorial Lobby – the only Lobby that affects our policies in any meaningful way.
You tell us, Bush certainly wanted to â€œtake outâ€ Saddam Hussein, but probably thought in terms of snipers or cruise missiles.
Huh? This is the son of the man who launched the Gulf War and who turned American troops around so as to avoid the casualties caused by a fight in Baghdad and the aftermath of rebuilding it. Are you saying that Dubya needed to be told by, well you don’t tell us who but you mean those nasty neo-Cons (mostly Jews, of course) who are, of course, part of The Lobby, that it takes more than a cruise missile to take out Saddam?
I mean, it couldn’t possibly be that instead of the neo-Cons, the parties out there pushing Bush and Cheney would be their energy buddies within and without the US who want to protect and usurp Iraqi oil and set up a beach-head for the US in the world’s oil center, could it?
Nope, it’s that darned The Lobby with all of those Jews and Jewish organizations. Do you not recall the hubris of this Administration after that squeaky win in 2000 where they acted as if they had all the mandates in the world to do as they pleased? What favors did they owe The Lobby, exactly? On the other hand, what favors did they owe Big Oil and Big Defense and Big Business?
By the way, it is interesting to read you say, The Israelis complain about Hezbollah shelling of the occupied Shebaa Farms territory, but that does not belong to Israel anyway, and they could avoid that problem by obeying international law and relinquishing land captured in 1967 on which they are squatting.
First, you ignore the Hezbollah attacks on civilians, soldiers and communities in Israel’s North, far outside the Shabaa Farms. Second, you misrepresent international law since UNSCR 242 actually allows Israel to hold on to to land they captured in 1967 until certain other criteria are met. 242 was definitely written with this type of land exchange (and not all land, for that matter) for peace in mind. So nobody is “squatting,” but Israel is sitting on that land pending a deal with the Syrians.
I find that your claims about Israel wanting to attack Iran are definitely on target. In fact, they undermine your other claims about Iraq because Mofaz himself said that Iraq was not a concern for Israel but Iran was. He said this before the US attacked Iraq. Israel was unconcerned about Iraq, in large part because they perceived the weapons-delivery systems in Iraq to be primitive. After all, the Scuds of ’91 weren’t all that on target, and this fleet was now a decade older. Furthermore, while they believed Hussein had chemical weapons, they did not believe he had nukes, therefore Iran was by far the greater threat.
Therefore, if there was a Lobby, and if Israel was behind it, manipulating the Administration and Congress, it would be clear that the US would currently be mired in Iran, not Iraq. The Israelis simply didn’t care about Iraq. That is the irony behind this entire discussion. While W&M look for a scapegoat, and anti-Israel academics such as you lend their support to this shoddy paper while pouncing on Israel and its supporters (yet again), in fact, the larger truth disproves your points: the Israelis did not care about Iraq and it has been Iran that has scared them for many years now.
You try to address Drezner’s point about AIPAC’s weakness by suggesting that since they can still muster funds that can sway an election, they remain powerful. There are quite a few organizations, many with far, far deeper pockets than AIPAC, that can affect elections on a local, regional or national stage. Furthermore, if this supposed strength was true and so pervasive, would the Administration – supposedly beholden to The Lobby – be using them as a punching bag as they try to legally stifle the ability of the press to gather information through leaks? By the way, W&M have the chutzpah to bring up the Larry Franklin matter as one example of how AIPAC and The Lobby (read: Jews and a few duped or insanely faithful non-Jews) work against the US and US interests. This, of course, before the AIPAC guys go on trial and completely ignoring the FBI’s frame-up after getting nothing on them following two years of tailing them.
You conclude by attacking the Syrian Accountability Act. While I happen to disagree with parts of it, one could make a very strong case that it has brought about the end to a 30 year occupation of Lebanon by Syria. Considering your opposition to certain other occupations, I’m a little surprised to see you belittle this achievement – it’s not as if these past 30 years were a peaceful time for the Lebanese, even if you exclude the years Israel was there.
Drezner was very easy on W&M. Their paper is not serious, not from an academic standpoint and not from the standpoint of standing up to scrutiny in terms of its general premise. It is a shoddy piece of research. If someone wants to make the case that AIPAC and other Jewish groups are influential, that is valid because they can be effective groups. To make the claim that they control DC and our foreign policy is absurd, especially when ignoring all the other powerful lobbies and arms of our Government that have a stake in the outcome of our policies and this war in particular.
The key reason the W&M paper is receiving so much attention is that they tap into some hidden veins of fear and perhaps hatred (hence the David Duke approval of the document, which their supporters are trying to sweep under the rug) against a particular group that has been the butt of conspiracies before. It is no accident they bring up The Protocols to innoculate themselves from well deserved charges.
In fact, one thing the paper does effectively is to tie Israel to American Jews with a charge that amounts to dual loyalty for the American Jews. By doing so in a scholarly paper, W&M open the door to overcoming that last obstacle that has been preventing serious people from criticizing Jews openly.
In the past, people would say, “We’re not antisemitic, we’re anti-Zionist. We have no beef with the Jews, it’s the Zionists we hate.” Few really bought that line, but it was a fair debating point. What W&M have done is to join the dots so that there is no longer a reason to play games: according to them the majority of Jews and Jewish organizations support Israel to the detriment of the US and effectively manipulate the US to act against its own interests.
If previously you were merely anti-Zionist, you have just been given a Harvard/U of Chicago seal of approval to blame bad things like, a poorly run war, or high oil prices, or an ineffective government in the international diplomatic sphere on…the Jews. Any Jews. Oops, I meant The Lobby – lots of Jews but some deep believing Christians (that’s W&M subtle code for: the Jews are secular and sane as is their calculated manipulation of our government, in contrast with the few devout Christians who support them but do so out of misguided faith or simple wackiness), except for the 36% of “good” Jews. You know, the ones who are mentioned in one lost line in a paper with dozens of pages and a gazillion (mostly biased and not reflective of any objective truth) footnotes attacking the other Jews and Israel?
The simple truth is that the very same sources from which they culled a good deal of their research, are the ones who agree with their premise and promote it. Gosh, I wonder if there might be some influential group of anti-Israel scholars, politicians, writers, pro-Palestinians and bloggers who are doing their best to promote this highly anti-Israel and anti-American-Jew paper? I bet we could make a case there is such a group. Perhaps we could call it The Lobby? Oh no, I guess we cannot since that name is already taken…by the only lobby that counts.
Yup, my lobby can kick your lobby’s butt. 😉