11 August, 2006

US Mideast Policy and the Israel Lobby

John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt in the London Reviw of Books, Vol. 28, No. 6, 23 March 2006:

“The combination of unwavering support for Israel and the related effort to spread ‘democracy’ throughout the region has inflamed Arab and Islamic opinion and jeopardised not only US security but that of much of the rest of the world. This situation has no equal in American political history. Why has the US been willing to set aside its own security and that of many of its allies in order to advance the interests of another state? One might assume that the bond between the two countries was based on shared strategic interests or compelling moral imperatives, but neither explanation can account for the remarkable level of material and diplomatic support that the US provides.
Instead, the thrust of US policy in the region derives almost entirely from domestic politics, and especially the activities of the ‘Israel Lobby’”

There has been much debate on this forum recently about US Middle East foreign policy and the extent to which it's influenced by Jewish and pro-Israel lobby groups. A study by professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt (quoted above), released earlier this year, is one of the most informative and interesting on the subject A short version of the paper was published in the LRB in March; you can also read the full version if you wish, though I should say even the short one is quite long!

Predictably the study generated its share of controversy and discussion and the reactions to the authors ranged from demonizing them as anti-Semitic to applauding them as independent-minded researchers. The following links include a variety of such reactions:

Alan Dershowitz

The Huffington Post

Out of the Crooked Timber

David Aaronovitch (in Timesonline)

Stephen J. Sniegoski (in thornwalker)

6 comments:

nativeinformant said...

Thanks for this extremely interesting post. It will take me a while to read through the whole paper and comment on it, but I did want to point out that Israel and its policies are a huge point of debate among academics, not quite as much in the US, but definitely in the UK. Academic unions in the UK regularly talk about boycotting Israel. Here is a link to info on recent talks regarding this:
http://insidehighered.com/news/2006/05/12/boycott
Shows yet again the differences btw US and Europe in what can and can't be said about Israel. I have a feeling this paper would not have come across as much controversy on the other side of the Atlantic.

ahmed said...

Just an idea of how much power the Israeli lobby has in the US, heres something that a judge said:

However in his conclusion, Ellis did call on lawmakers to consider updating the Espionage Act to reflect the changes that have taken place in the 90 years since it has been approved.


Two members of AIPAC have been charged with espionage. Imagine this: They have the power to change the law of the most powerful country in the world to suit their requirements. Read more here.

The jewish electorate is just 3% in the US. I wonder why they have this much influence. A person in a democracy has one vote - regardless of the level of education or the amount of money he has. Seriously, I have doubts about the US Democratic System as a whole.

Brn said...

ahmed,

They do not have the power to "change the law". They do have the ability, as everyone in the US does, to lobby the congress to change the law. I can tell you that all media organizations in the US, whatever their position on Israel, are going to want this law changed, because it would mean an end to their being able to publish leaked information. For example, there would have been no information about the US government listening in on internation calls released if this had been the understanding of the law at that time.

The Israeli lobby in the US is very effective for many reasons. But influence is not control. The majority of the American people support Israel, and that is why the government does too.

Tim Newman said...

They have the power to change the law of the most powerful country in the world to suit their requirements.

Oddly, this all powerful group for whom any rule can be changed have been - with the exception of Clinton - unable to get their choice of president elected for decades. How bizarre!

bklyn_in_dubai said...

brn,

You've got your line of causation backwards. The Israeli lobby doesn't just influence American policy, it makes it. (Tom Hayden, former congressman from LA, talked recently about Jewish Democratic party kingmakers when he ran in 1980. They said basically you can have any position you want, but you gotta support Israel. Which he did. Through 1982 and beyond.)

And not just US policy. Any news in a paper or on TV that's critical -- you're an anti-semite. Simple. Professor that's critical of Israel -- anti-semite.

The US govt does something because of the people's demands? Stop reading 11th grade civics textbooks. In my country, the tail wags the dog. The tail being well funded and organized lobbies, primarily AIPAC, big oil, big pharma and others of the MNC variety. The people are a mild inconvenience, their wants are irrelevant except at election time, and even then, not so much.

ahmed said...

Oddly, this all powerful group for whom any rule can be changed have been - with the exception of Clinton - unable to get their choice of president elected for decades. How bizarre!

Thats not bizarre. Actually the AIPAC has tough time deciding which of the presidential candidates is more pro-Israel. Thats so much confusion. How bizarre is this!!

I can tell you that all media organizations in the US, whatever their position on Israel, are going to want this law changed, because it would mean an end to their being able to publish leaked information.


Is there any other entity in the US thats more pro-Israel than the media? Remember, the Jewish-controlled media and Hollywood.


The Israeli lobby in the US is very effective for many reasons.


Money, is that one? Or the most significant one? You can call it by many names - donations, war-chest and a million other names, I call it bribes that decide the way the President and the Congress are going to act.

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