pageok
pageok
pageok
Mearsheimer and Walt Get a Book Contract:

Mearsheimer and Walt, that oppressed Harvard-Chicago duo who authored the "Israel Lobby" paper, a paper that would make a precocious but untutored high-schooler proud, but is an embarassment to the authors, have now received a contract from the prestigious commercial publisher Farrar, Straus, and Giroux to expand their paper into a book. Obviously, this piece of news is a bit inconsistent with the claim M & W themselves have promoted that the power of the Israel Lobby is shown by the inability of critics of Israel and its ties to the U.S. to get their voices heard. Indeed, I'd wager it was far easier for M & W to find a publisher than it has been for best-selling conservative authors like Ann Coulter and Bernard Goldberg.

In other Mearsheimer and Walt news, the Jerusalem Post quotes Mearsheimer as follows at a debate at Cooper Union: "There is much documentation to support that Israel is not only a force behind the [Iraq] war, but that the Israel lobby was one of the principle driving forces behind the war, and in its absence, the United States would not have gone to war." Shlomo Ben-Ami, a Labor politician from Israel, responded along the same lines as I've noted several times on this blog: "From the beginning, Israel said Iran was the fear, not Iraq."

I'd love to see Mearsheimer's "documentation" that Israel was "a force behind the war," not to mention actual documentation that the war would not have occurred but for the "Israel Lobby." And I don't mean the trite observation that neoconservatives who supported the Iraq war (along with every other American military intervention and belligerent act of the last thirty years) also are usually strong supporters of Israel. I'm not holding my breath.

UPDATE: In what strikes me as a very tendentious piece about Tony Judt, Michael Powell of the Washington Post writes,

He has, of late, defended an academic paper — co-authored by professor Stephen M. Walt of Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government and John J. Mearsheimer, a professor at the University of Chicago — which argues the American Israel lobby has pushed policies that are not in the United States' best interests and in fact often encourage Israel to engage in self-destructive behavior.

Well, gee, then what's all the controversy about? Put in such relatively innocuous terms, even I would agree with the paper.

[As far as Judt goes, I have no love for the guy, but if the ADL and AJC did, even subtly, try to persuade the Polish embassy to cancel Judt's speech, it was stupid, hamhanded, adn counterproductive. Note that Judt's group was just renting out the embassy; I don't see why the ADL or anyone else should care if the Polish embassy rents its space to Judt, who has what amount to rather conventional extreme left-wing views on everything, including Israel. If the embassy had been honoring Judt, that would be a different story. OTOH, the article's curt dismissal of the case against Norman Finkelstein, along with its misrepresentation of the Mearsheimer and Walt controversy, leads me to reserve judgment on the details of this story.]

Jonah Gelbach (mail) (www):
David

I don't have anything to say about Mearsheimer and Walt; I've followed this controversy only from a distance.

But you can't SERIOUSLY be lamenting any troubles that Ann Coulter had (which I'll stipulate for argument's sake) getting her book(s) published. She is a documented and repeated liar.

If I were a conservative, I'd be embarrassed to have her on my side, and I'd laud publishers who refused to print her lies. People do and should get thrown out of universities for much less than the dishonesty in which she engages.
10.8.2006 11:44pm
r78:

Indeed, I'd wager it was far easier for M &W to find a publisher than it has been for best-selling conservative authors like Ann Coulter and Bernard Goldberg.

Oh please.

The more you make posts like this, the sillier you seem.

Coulter has a track record of publishing several best sellers. (Granted, they are all rightest stroke books, but that doesn't lessen sales.) As long as she does that, she will always have a publisher.

In contrast Mearsheimer and Walt are academics and I don't recall ever seeing their names on any best seller lists. And, to top it off, they are proposing to write what I am sure will be a fairly turgid book on political theory and analysis - which isn't exactly on anyone's summer reading list.
10.8.2006 11:50pm
Justin (mail):
At some point, I would hope that rational argument and facts might substitute for insults on posts. I assume you wouldn't credit such style of "argument" in your students' finals, so hold yourself up to MINIMALLY the same tepid standard.
10.9.2006 12:02am
DavidBernstein (mail):
Justin, I've written about the flaws in M&W's paper in detail. Blog posts often contain something called "links", which appear as highlighted text. If you'd follow the first link in the post above by clicking on it with your "mouse", it will take you to much of that criticism.
10.9.2006 12:07am
r78:

If you'd follow the first link in the post above

But the problem is that if you follow that link, it just contains more hyperventilating insults.

Try again.
10.9.2006 12:17am
plunge (mail):
Publishing a book? Is there anything the vast conspiracy to allege that Israel isn't perfect CAN'T do?
10.9.2006 12:21am
Cornellian (mail):
When lefties call Coulter a conservative, they usually get attacked for trying to smear conservatives generally with her views. She's a sort of caricature of a conservative.
10.9.2006 12:36am
Jack S. (mail) (www):
I love it when people cite themselves to prove that they're right.
10.9.2006 12:44am
jvarisco (www):
I'd love to see Mearsheimer's "documentation" that Israel was "a force behind the war," not to mention actual documentation that the war would not have occurred but for the "Israel Lobby."

So you're glad they are expanding it into a book with full documentation, I hope?
10.9.2006 1:33am
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Comments to D. Bernstein's posts could be the subject of a paper in themselves... If you hate them so much, why do you not only read them, but drop your inane comments as well? Why do you accuse him of forgoing argument in favor of mere insults and then go on to insult him in a two-sentence post? Ironic at least, wouldn't you say? I almost wonder if some of these are just left to bait certain commenters into a frenzy... it never fails.

What do you hope to accomplish? "Rational argument" obviously isn't the goal... Perhaps it's just a "stroke" comment?
10.9.2006 1:38am
Harry Eagar (mail):
'She's a sort of caricature of a conservative.'

And also a best seller, so it's said. So, who is buying her books? Faux-conservatives?

(Note: I don't watch TV and have never read anything by Coulter. I know nothing about her except that the mention of her name tends to set off sparks.)
10.9.2006 3:01am
Lev:

I'd love to see Mearsheimer's "documentation" that Israel was "a force behind the war," not to mention actual documentation that the war would not have occurred but for the "Israel Lobby."


Yeah, me too. It's about time that they quit pussyfooting around and "out" ZOG citing chapter and verse with the documentation to back it up.
10.9.2006 3:03am
r78:

What do you hope to accomplish? "Rational argument" obviously isn't the goal

You can't "rationally argue" with someone who just post snide little comments that are absurd on their face.

I mean, did you see the part implying that Coulter has trouble getting a book deal? Anyone who inhabits that world isn't subject to "rational argument." It's like trying to argue with the guy walking down the street pissing himself screaming about the government trying to spy on his thoughts. (Well, maybe THAT guy is actually onto something.)
10.9.2006 3:34am
HLSbertarian (mail):
I mean, did you see the part implying that Coulter has trouble getting a book deal? Anyone who inhabits that world isn't subject to "rational argument."


Prof. Bernstein linked that comment to another post that referenced a Richard Poe column about Coulter's significant troubles publishing her second book, Slander. The Poe link seems to be dead right now, but a little Googling easily finds the columnHERE.


You can take issue with Poe's facts, but if believed, they show that Coulter did indeed have trouble getting Slander published despite the success of her first book.

Linking is part of blogging. If you don't bother to follow the links, please don't bother accusing the poster of not backing up his points.
10.9.2006 3:50am
Christopher M (mail):
This post went off the deep end when Prof. Bernstein seriously suggested that Ann Coulter has more to contribute to public discourse than Mearsheimer and Walt. There is a difference between being fundamentally mistaken, in an academic way, and being a nutjob on par with Timothy McVeigh -- or more likely, someone who's figured out that posing as such, while being camera-friendly in a very red-state way, is great for publicity.
10.9.2006 5:21am
Revonna LaSchatze:
What is wrong with fuller information in the marketplace of ideas?

Unless you don't want certain ideas to get out. (?)

If lobbies can control politics much like machines dominated in years past, breaking up monopolies of power is good. Or more fully exposing them.

Labeling as nutjobs those whose ideas you don't want heard doesn't tend to work in this country.

DB is hardly neutral or acting intellectually and rationally on all of his passions (support of Israel).

But he and those like him should not be allowed to use their personal expertise or positions of academic power to shut down the discussion that is needed regarding the role of American support for Israel.
10.9.2006 8:09am
Revonna LaSchatze:


Discussion of cluster bombs used in Lebanon, anyone?

I recall reading much made here of the nail and tack studded bombs used by Palestinians to maximize human pain, without the biases, would this issue be more fully discussed if there was a Palestianian conspirator with biases like DB?

Nuclear test yesterday, yes TEST, not allegations of WMD. They say proliferation will come from this test -- to our non-allies like possibly Iran, Syria, Pakistan.

Israel has cause for worry, but my priorities lay with America. Enough already with the outcomes to Israel, let's take care of our own interests first. If they parallel, fine. If not, less power to the Israel lobby in America and less listening to those whose allegiances lie with family interests over country.
10.9.2006 8:15am
Mr. L (mail):
There is a difference between being fundamentally mistaken, in an academic way, and being a nutjob on par with Timothy McVeigh -- or more likely, someone who's figured out that posing as such, while being camera-friendly in a very red-state way, is great for publicity.

I think the only person going off the deep end is you. How would you react to someone equating (say) Michael Moore with the Unabomber? Would that be an 'unhinged neocon slur'?

Actually, Moore's a great example -- he's had far more disputes about accuracy and so forth than Coulter. He have any trouble finding publishers?
10.9.2006 8:53am
donaldk:
Plenty of Jew-haters here (oh, excuse me, anti-Israelists). Pleasure to see that their comments lack any real substance, but merely ad hominen attacks. (Like this one.)
10.9.2006 9:00am
Rex:
Actually, Moore's a great example -- he's had far more disputes about accuracy and so forth than Coulter. He have any trouble finding publishers?

For one thing, Moore tends to shy away from things like calling for the assassination of senators and Supreme Court justices.
10.9.2006 9:06am
Seamus (mail):

Plenty of Jew-haters here (oh, excuse me, anti-Israelists).



Ann Coulter is Jewish? Who knew?
10.9.2006 10:29am
magoo (mail):
Apropos of nothing in particular:

"In N.Y., Sparks Fly Over Israel Criticism
Polish Consulate Says Jewish Groups Called To Oppose Historian


By Michael Powell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, October 9, 2006; Page A03

NEW YORK -- Two major American Jewish organizations helped block a prominent New York University historian from speaking at the Polish consulate here last week, saying the academic was too critical of Israel and American Jewry.

The historian, Tony Judt, is Jewish and directs New York University's Remarque Institute, which promotes the study of Europe. Judt was scheduled to talk Oct. 4 to a nonprofit organization that rents space from the consulate. Judt's subject was the Israel lobby in the United States, and he planned to argue that this lobby has often stifled honest debate."
10.9.2006 11:07am
magoo (mail):
oops, more here
10.9.2006 11:16am
Steve:
My understanding is that Israel was not really in favor of the Iraq war, for reasons related to the stability of the region. So yeah, if M&W have evidence to the contrary, I'd love to see it too, as it's news to me.

As for the infamous "Israel Lobby," well, outfits like AIPAC typically take a more right-wing view than the actual government of Israel, so it wouldn't surprise me in the least to find out they agitated for the war. So be it. There's nothing wrong with believing the Iraq war was in Israel's best interests (although it wasn't), even if Israel itself didn't think so.

Rank-and-file Jews within the United States, of course, have always opposed the Iraq war in greater numbers than the public at large, from the pre-war stage up until the present.
10.9.2006 11:37am
Seamus (mail):

Rank-and-file Jews within the United States, of course, have always opposed the Iraq war in greater numbers than the public at large, from the pre-war stage up until the present.


In fairness to W&M, I think they acknowledged this fact (or at least admitted that "rank-and-file Jews" weren't particularly beating the pro-war drum).
10.9.2006 11:53am
Anderson (mail) (www):
There's nothing wrong with believing the Iraq war was in Israel's best interests (although it wasn't)

Define "wrong"?
10.9.2006 12:14pm
magoo (mail):
WashPost describes W&M's paper as arguing "the American Israel lobby has pushed policies that are not in the United States' best interests and in fact often encourage Israel to engage in self-destructive behavior.

DB responds: "Well, gee, then what's all the controversy about? Put in such relatively innocuous terms, even I would agree with the paper."

Much (not all, but much) of the controversy has been generated by people who (1) deny the very existence of the American Israel lobby and who view W&M's effort to define the lobby as evil; (2) deny that the alleged lobby advocates policies "not in the United States' best interests"; and (3) deny that the alleged lobby "often encourages Israel to engage in self-destructive behavior." Glad to see you side with W&M on these important matters, and that you view their position on these issues as innocuous. Perhaps they'll cite you in the book version.
10.9.2006 12:18pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Steve, the essential problem with M &W's paper is that it's not about AIPAC, which is actually an "Israel Lobby," nor is it about AIPAC and other organizations (ADL, AJC) that work on behalf of Israel. Rather, in M &W's view, the "Israel lobby" includes any individual who actively supports Israel. As such, the "Israel lobby" includes individuals who both supported and opposed the Iraq War, making the whole thesis incoherent. But if you want to limit things to just AIPAC, it's one thing to say that AIPAC supported the war (if it did), and quite another to say that it was a but-for cause of the war.
10.9.2006 12:19pm
magoo (mail):
"In M &W's view, the 'Israel lobby' includes any individual who actively supports Israel."

cite please (or apology in lieu of)
10.9.2006 12:22pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Look at the paper.
10.9.2006 12:44pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
There is NO ONE who denies the existence of a pro-Israel lobby. AIPAC's own web page says it's a pro-Israel lobby. What they deny is that Dennis Ross, Pat Robertson, and Irving Kristol are part of a single "lobby," and that this "lobby" dictates American foreign policy. As for the "lobby" advocating positions contrary to American interests, unless you happen to agree exactly with AIPAC's view of the world, that will necessarily be true. OTOH, M&W suggest that AIPAC and every other person in their expansively defined lobby CONSCIOUSLY work against America's interest, which is another matter entirely.
10.9.2006 12:50pm
magoo (mail):
The paper uses the term "the Lobby" to denote a "loose coalition of individuals and organizations who actively work to shape U.S. foreign policy in a pro-Israel direction." This is a far narrower universe than, as you put it, "any individual who actively supports Israel." Many Jews and non-Jews actively support Israel without attempting to bend U.S. foreign policy.

You improperly use a broader definition of the term "Lobby" in an attempt to show that the paper is "incoherent." Your argument fails. As Seamus notes, the paper recognizes that many "rank-and-file Jews," presumably including Jews who actively support Israel in ways other than bending U.S. foreign policy, oppose the Iraq war.
10.9.2006 12:56pm
magoo (mail):
DB — "There is NO ONE who denies the existence of a pro-Israel lobby."

You need to get out more. David Gergen's op-ed on W&M ran under the banner headline: "THERE IS NO ISRAEL LOBBY." You can quarrel (as I do) whether that was a fair headline, but you can't deny the message that the editors were sending. Google provides many other examples.
10.9.2006 1:03pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Magoo, I've written enough op-eds to know that the headline writers work somewhat autonomously, and their goal is to get a catchy headline, not to accurately reflect anything. I've noted before that Gergen actually acknowledges in the piece that there is an Israel lobby. And I'm willing to amend my prior statement to "anyone who actively supports Israel POLITICALLY," to avoid the implication that M &W include anyone who happens to actively support Israel, but only in terms of running bake sales or whatnot.
10.9.2006 1:07pm
magoo (mail):
DB — You miss my point on Gergen entirely. I agree with you about the content of Gergen's piece. The editors were sending a different message.
10.9.2006 1:23pm
Luke 1152 (mail):
I had classes with Mearsheimer many years ago, but my main source of information about his work today is criticisms I read of it. But isn't his argument that there is a "lobby" that supports policies that benefit Israel that do not necessary benefit the US or even harm it?

DB — "There is NO ONE who denies the existence of a pro-Israel lobby."

Okey dokey, if there is such a "lobby" then presumably its goal is to bring about policies that benefit Israel. Can we agree on that?

So, as I see it, there are only 3 possible criticisms of Mearsheimer:

1) there is no lobby - (Response: no see DB above)
2) there is a lobby but Israel's interests align so perfectly with those of the US that there cannot possibly be a conflict
3) there is a lobby but it is really ineffective so it doesn't matter

Do the latter two seem credible to anyone?
10.9.2006 1:30pm
magoo (mail):
DB — As for the term "Lobby," a fair reading of the W&M piece leaves no doubt who they have in mind. They name names for pete's sake. They're not talking about "Jews United in Opposition to the Iraq War." To suggest that they are, as you do, and then to conclude that the paper is therefore incoherent, is unpersuasive. Moreover, they make clear they use the term ONLY as a "convenient shorthand," and they include Pat Robertson et al. within the scope of the term so they don't have to name them by name with each reference. To the extent you and others argue about whether Robertson is part of the same "lobby" as AIPAC, it's really a straw man. W&M use the term as a convenient shorthand. They make clear they are not alleging a vast, well organized conspiracy between AIPAC and their supporters within the Christian right.
10.9.2006 1:36pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Yet their definition quite clearly would include Jews (or others) who opposed the Iraq War, but are politically active on behalf of Israel. And they can't mean just AIPAC, because they include all sorts of individuals who have no affiliation with AIPAC. And they can't mean "right-wing" Jews ("Likudniks?") and others, because they include liberal Democrats such as Dennis Ross.
10.9.2006 1:41pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Luke, there are many things that I could agree with given a sufficiently abstract level of generality, e.g., "Stalin did many good things for the Soviet Union."
10.9.2006 1:44pm
lefty:
Seriously, can DB or his defender's respond to Luke's post above? Or will, as usual, all insightful questions be met by a telling silence?

Chapman:

Comments to D. Bernstein's posts could be the subject of a paper in themselves... If you hate them so much, why do you not only read them, but drop your inane comments as well?



Well, normally I don't read them. In fact, DBs polemics during this summer's war drove me away from the VC almost entirely. But I make it a point to read coverage of the M&W study, even when they're posted here, because I'm fascinated by how academic articles are oversimplified and distorted by blogs and by the popular press.
10.9.2006 1:44pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
DB,

Every lobby includes people of differing viewpoints. I think you know perfectly well that doesn't make the idea of a lobby incoherent.

I believe you also know perfectly well that there is relevance in talking about a lobby that is not simply limited to official organizations, but extends to others who generally allign with those organizations and act to promote the same basic interestests.

You don't have to be a member of the ACLU to be part of the civil rights lobby. You may act completely independently. It's hard to draw perfect comparisons between different types of lobbies, but the point remains.
10.9.2006 2:26pm
Luke 1152 (mail):

Luke, there are many things that I could agree with given a sufficiently abstract level of generality, e.g., "Stalin did many good things for the Soviet Union."


That seems like a dodge, doesn't it?

You have agreed that there is an "pro-Israeli lobby"

Do you assert 2) there is a lobby but Israel's interests align so perfectly with those of the US that there cannot possibly be a conflict?

Or do you assert 3) there is a lobby but it is really ineffective so it doesn't matter

Or do you have another point - even an "abstract" one.
10.9.2006 2:34pm
Seamus (mail):
It strikes me that the term "Israel lobby" (perhaps intentionally) parallels the term "China lobby," used in the 1940s and 1950s (and perhaps even into the 1970s) to mean an agglomeration of individuals and groups which aimed at pushing American policy toward greater support of the Chiang Kai-shek regime (at first in opposition to the Japanese, later in opposition to the Chinese Communists, and eventually in opposition to the People's Republic of China, or "Red China."). The lobby's critics (like those of the Israel lobby) often charged that its goals were not in line with the best interests of the United States. Conversely, those who worked for or agreed with the lobby argued that the Chiang regime (which it called "Nationalist China," or even "Free China") was a good ally of the United States, and that its enemies were the enemies of the United States, if not of civilization itself. Sound familiar? (Not to mention how critics of the China lobby had to defend themselves against accusations of being soft on Communism, or even of fellow travelling, which in the 1950s would be like having to fed off accusations of anti-semitism today.)

I don't know enough about the China lobby (even though my father worked for it--or, more precisely, to the Allied Public Relations firm, which had Mme. Chiang Kai-shek among its clients) to say whether its elements took positions as diverse as those whom M&W point to as members of the Israel lobby. If they did, then I'd say we have two good examples of groups, not necessarily distinguishable by any single factor common to all, but bearing what Wittgenstein would call "family resemblances" that make it meaningful to talk about the "X lobby."
10.9.2006 2:55pm
luagha:
I think the point, as has been discussed, is that M&W use their term 'The Israel Lobby' not to refer to 'lobbying' like AIPAC or AARP or the NRA but to a confluence of actors working in mysterious lockstep all with the same pro-Israel goal who are of such power that they cease to 'have influence' but would be stated to 'have control' of foreign policy. Or even 'have hijacked control' or 'have suborned control' of American foreign policy.

This is just a rehash of every 'Jewish conspiracy' theory out there. Like every conspiracy theory, it is 'proven' by only accepting the information that fits the theory (people x, y, and z take pro-israel actions at x times) and ignoring all the information that doesn't fit the theory (they took anti-israel or neutral-israel positions at z times).

And all the various op-eds have pointed out plenty of the countering information. Some is even posted above.
10.9.2006 3:06pm
Steve:
I think part of the confusion is that DB tends to use the term "pro-Israel" rather loosely.

I happen to think left-wing Israelis are just as "pro-Israel" as right-wing Israelis, for example, but judging from DB's posts on the Israel-Lebanon conflict, he doesn't seem to agree with me.
10.9.2006 3:17pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
"Every lobby includes people of differing viewpoints. I think you know perfectly well that doesn't make the idea of a lobby incoherent."

Ah, but M&W think that the "Israel Lobby" got the U.S. into the Iraq War. Given that their definition of the Israel lobby includes a significant percentage of folks who were opposed to or skeptical of the war, that's a bit incoherent. As is the general claim that the Israel lobby controls U.S. foreign policy vis a vis the Middle East, given that the members of the lobby, by their definition, include everyone from relative peaceniks who served in the Clinton Administration to Christian millenialists.

As for other comments, if M &W wrote a paper stating that AIPAC has a lot of power (or even too much power), and that based on their own subjective beliefs about the world, many of AIPAC's positions are in conflict with America's interests, the paper wouldn't have attracted such controversy, though it still wouldn't be any good if it was as poorly written as their actual paper was.

There's plenty to criticize about AIPAC, but it goes both ways; AIPAC's goal is to strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship. Not only can one argue that this is sometimes done in a way that is not to the U.S.'s benefit, but also that sometimes it's not in Israel's interest. But that's what makes AIPAC an AMERICAN pro-Israel group; it's not in fact looking out solely for what's good for Israel (which wouldn't fly politically) but to find common interests between the U.S. and Israel, and ways of tying them closer as allies. That's a major thing M &W (who don't focus on AIPAC to begin with), among many others, miss: AIPAC's success lies not in persuading folks that they should support Israel at the expense of the U.S., but that Israel should be supported because it's in the U.S.'s interest. Once you realize that that is the true goal of the Israel lobby, you also realize that M &W's neglect of all the countervailing forces arguing the opposite--oil companies, big business more generally, career diplomats and other Arabists in the State Department, former diplomats funded by the Saudis, left-wing churches, and so forth--becomes laughable.
10.9.2006 3:59pm
Cenrand:
Luke,

Their is a difference between the isreal lobby being 'ineffective' and it having the type of domination over U.S. foreign policy that its painted as having by M&W.
10.9.2006 3:59pm
Luke 1152 (mail):

who are of such power that they cease to 'have influence' but would be stated to 'have control' of foreign policy. Or even 'have hijacked control' or 'have suborned control' of American foreign policy.

I don't know if this is DB's position or not but I do have this question:

If so, isn't this "just" a factual question of degree? Something that can be stated and refuted or argued?

Bernstein admits there is a "pro Israeli" lobby. Isn't it fair then to ask what effect - if any - this lobby has and whether its effects further US interests?

But it seems as soon as you ask that question the reactionary elements on this list brand you as anti-semitic or something.
10.9.2006 4:01pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Luke,

Sure, but (1) M &W have a pariticular view of Israel, both morally and strategically, which they assert as FACT, when it's really just their opinion; (2) they then argue that because this is FACT, everyone who supports Israel must be doing so with at best willful blindless, and, more likely, intentionally putting Israel's interests ahead of the U.S.

Plus, their definition of "the Lobby" is ridiculously broad, and, judging from post-paper remarks, shifts depending on what's convenient for the cirumstances. They only "document" things by selectively quoting material that supports their thesis, and ignoring contrary material. And so on.

The W. Post had a piece on the Israel lobby back in July, and, though by a journalist, it put M &W to shame in being much more coherent, well-argued, and even well-researched (not that I necessarily agreed with it). I haven't any attacks on the author of that paper, even though an article in the Post has a lot more readers than a working paper at Harvard.
10.9.2006 4:42pm
Cenrand:
Luke,

It is certainly fair to ask what degree of influence a certain lobby possesses. The problem people have with the M&W paper is that it inflates the power of the Israel lobby beyond reasonable bounds, all the while imputing it with sinister motives. It does this relying on questionable sources, and all the while ignores countervailing and alternative arguments to its hypothesis.

That doesnt mean that the power of any Israel lobby should not be examined, but I think it does suggest that the M&W paper is not a good starting point for that examination.

Of course some people may call anyone who questions any actions of a lobby, or Israel for that matter, anti-semitic - in much the same way some people will call anyone who opposses affirmative action a racist, or anyone who opposses actions of certain Islamic countries anti-muslim. I'm not really sure what can be done about this?
10.9.2006 4:42pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
They make clear they are not alleging a vast, well organized conspiracy between AIPAC and their supporters within the Christian right.
Magoo, writing something tendentious, but then tacking on a disclaimer which denies what one has just written, does not "make clear" anything.

Sure, their disclaimer is "clear" in isolation -- but it isn't in isolation. If one takes it at face value, it eviscerates the paper. Since it's unlikely that they would want to do such a thing, it's unlikely that the disclaimer was meant as anything other than an attempt to shield themselves from criticism.
10.9.2006 6:02pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
DB,

Ah, but M&W think that the "Israel Lobby" got the U.S. into the Iraq War. Given that their definition of the Israel lobby includes a significant percentage of folks who were opposed to or skeptical of the war, that's a bit incoherent.


Not really...

Plus, their definition of "the Lobby" is ridiculously broad, and, judging from post-paper remarks, shifts depending on what's convenient for the cirumstances.


That's because their point wasn't to smear the Israel lobby!

The false assumption you're making is that W&M's purpose — rather than simply to point out the influence of the lobby, and the negative effect that they believe it has had — was to create some sort of blacklist of lobby-members who shouldn't be trusted in our foreign policy debate. If you would argue that assumption, then you'd have a case against their paper, for saying that any person who simply likes Israel belongs on such a blacklist. But you haven't argued that assumption, I have to assume, because you don't have an argument.

Without that assumption, though, your argument falls apart. Is it really incoherent to define the civil rights lobby broadly, and still say it's responsible for something which every potential member doesn't support?

You're also falsely assuming that the entire paper was about the Iraq war. If their whole point was simply that there was a malicious Israel lobby that caused the Iraq war, and then they define this Israel lobby to include anyone who supports Israel, you'd certainly be right to criticize them. But of course, that wasn't their point either. 1. They made a point of saying the lobby isn't malicious, and 2. The Iraq war was discussed as just one possible effect of the Lobby's influence.

If there's an incoherent argument here, it really must be the one that you can't discuss a broadly-defined lobby. If there's something inappropriate about such a definition, it has to be something specifically related to the Israel lobby, that perhaps a person specifically shouldn't broadly define the Israel lobby, because it could be construed as anti-semitic. If that's the argument, though, then I think it should be made.
10.9.2006 6:31pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
The W. Post had a piece on the Israel lobby back in July, and, though by a journalist, it put M &W to shame in being much more coherent, well-argued, and even well-researched (not that I necessarily agreed with it). I haven't any attacks on the author of that paper, even though an article in the Post has a lot more readers than a working paper at Harvard.


Well, that article didn't take issue with the lobby's agenda either, did it? It's when you try to discuss the Israel lobby as an opponent of it, I would guess, that things get contentious.
10.9.2006 6:36pm
Christopher Cooke (mail):
I think the most prescient comment was Seamus observation was to note the similarity with the term "China Lobby" that was used during the 1950s. W&M, undoubtedly, were familiar with this other "lobby" and the shorthand phrase used to describe it, and intended to say there is a comparable "Israel Lobby" today. I do agree with some criticisms of W&M's paper, especially that they understate the influence of "big oil" and that they overstate the "Israel Lobby's" desire to have the US invade Iraq. It is more correct to state that neo-conservatives were behind this foreign policy initiative. Indeed, from what I read, many in Israel and many of her US supporters were fearful of the regional instability that a US invasion of Iraq might bring.
10.10.2006 12:13am
neurodoc:
One of M&W's first public appearances was at a CAIR-sponsored event in Washington this summer. No inference to be drawn from their choice of hosts? AIPAC's interests should be seen as in conflict with the US's interests, while CAIR's interests should be seen as consonant with them?!
10.10.2006 2:48am
markm (mail):
"[The publication of this book] is a bit inconsistent with the claim M &W themselves have promoted that the power of the Israel Lobby is shown by the inability of critics of Israel and its ties to the U.S. to get their voices heard."
"a paper that would make a precocious but untutored high-schooler proud, but is an embarassment to the authors"

The Israel lobby is obviously so powerful that it has arranged for the book publication to expose these critics to further public embarassment.

(I hope you all understood that was a joke.)
10.10.2006 5:16pm
Orkon (mail):
Since David Bernstein is in favor of free speech, I assume he welcomes the publication of the Walt/Mearsheimer book, and will criticize any attempts any nonexistent lobby may or may not take to suppress its publication or publicization.

Right, David? (sarcasm off)
10.11.2006 11:53am
Cenrand:
Orkon,

Has anyone been trying to supress publication of this book?
10.11.2006 12:55pm