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David Brooks on the Influence of Walt and Mearsheimer in the Arab World:

Brooks:

I just attended a conference that was both illuminating and depressing. It was co-sponsored by the Center for Strategic Studies at the University of Jordan and the American Enterprise Institute, and the idea was to get Americans and moderate Arab reformers together to talk about Iraq, Iran, and any remaining prospects for democracy in the Middle East.

As it happened, though, the Arab speakers mainly wanted to talk about the Israel lobby. One described a book edited in the mid-1990s by the Jewish policy analyst David Wurmser as the secret blueprint for American foreign policy over the past decade. A pollster showed that large majorities in Arab countries believe that the Israel lobby has more influence over American policy than the Bush administration. Speaker after speaker triumphantly cited the work of Stephen Walt, John Mearsheimer and Jimmy Carter as proof that even Americans were coming to admit that the Israel lobby controls their government.

It seems that a significant reason that people believe conspiracy theories, whether about "Big Pharma," 9/11, the Bush Administration, the "Israel Lobby," or anything else, is that the theories in question provide what appear to be "rational" support for views that were already deeply held from "the gut". And it doesn't hurt if the conspiracy theory advances the believers' self-interest.

happylee:
Dear sir, I do believe the exact same thing can be said about people who close their eyes to the very real conspiracies of "Big Brother, Big Pharma and the Israeli Lobby." It seems that a significant reason that people believe the lies of big gov't, big pharma and (to a lesser extent) big israel is that it provides what appears to be "rational" support for (unexamined) views that were already deeply held from "the gut."

Indeed, you seem to affirm that self-interest and validation would be the motivation -- perhaps self interest and validation motivate the various forces behind big govt, big pharma and israel's lobby? Hmmm.
4.12.2007 12:01am
Montie (mail):

It seems that a significant reason that people believe the lies of big gov't, big pharma and (to a lesser extent) big israel is that it provides what appears to be "rational" support for (unexamined) views that were already deeply held from "the gut."


I guess in
4.12.2007 12:11am
Lev:
For lack of a better place:Unworthy of Turkey
Lessons from Iran's Easter parade of British hostages.


Re: whether Turkey should want to join the EU, considering its recent history and the EU's.

Perhaps the EU is now a conspiracy against liberal democracy.
4.12.2007 12:13am
happylee:
Lev seyz:

Perhaps the EU is now a conspiracy against liberal democracy.


Correctomundo! The EU is one big conspiracy against freedom and prosperity.
4.12.2007 12:20am
Montie (mail):
Darn it...I hit post too early:

It seems that a significant reason that people believe the lies of big gov't, big pharma and (to a lesser extent) big israel is that it provides what appears to be "rational" support for (unexamined) views that were already deeply held from "the gut."


I guess it could also be confirmation bias as well.
4.12.2007 12:23am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Who says the Arabs actually believe this crap?
Sure, they could.
But, on the other hand, they could very well know it's crap and deliberately use it as a cover. Hoping to find the gullible.
Not that that's ever been done before.
4.12.2007 12:32am
Cerveza (mail):
I am begining to think that we (humanity, mankind) are entering a era of pathetic-- and excruciatingly dangerous-- global paranoia. The inexorable spread of WMD almost guarantees that they will fall into the hands of someone stupid and blind enough to use them. At the same time, we (humanity, mankind, whatever) also sit in the midst an over-whelming abundance of information about one another, yet still find a way to believe the most simplistic, ignorant things about one another. Jesus! Is there anything more dumbass-stupid than the belief that an invisible cabal of Jews controls everything in the US? And yet, I guarantee you, hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of people are going to die in the next 50 years as a result of that delusion.

(Oh, and please remember this post when George Bush gets crucified in our press for taking out Iran's nuclear capacity sometime in the next two years.)
4.12.2007 1:39am
pbf (mail) (www):
You don't need to be paranoid or an anti-semite to believe that (1) a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would be a major step forward for everyone in the Middle East, (2) U.S. policy under GWB has steered away from efforts to achieve such a resolution, and (3) that U.S. policy reflects the positions advocated by AIPAC and various neocon U.S. Jews.
4.12.2007 11:11am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
pbf.
You don't need to be paranoid to understand that "peace" from one side's point of view is the extermination of Israel. The US has consistently opposed that, as have most Jews in this country.
I think I cleared up your statement for you.
No, don't thank me. I do this sort of thing for free.
4.12.2007 11:32am
MRB:
Richard Aubrey.
What a wonderfully useful generalization you have made about "one side's point of view." If it is so easy to assume that the roughly 1 billion Muslims in the world have secretly agreed to push for the extermination of Israel isn't it equally reasonable to assume that the 14 million Jews have secretly agreed to do manipulate every possible means of stopping Israel's extermination? I mean, it couldn't possibly be that the extreme elements of each side have managed to hijack their respective political establishments and project a message of pure intolerance while the general population prays for peace every night. No, couldn't be that, thats just too crazy...
4.12.2007 11:47am
observer:
Don't blame the 1 Billion Muslim world wanting to irradicate Israel. Understand them. They look at Israel as a cancer that entered its body in 1947 and has been growing ever since. There has not been any cure yet and the natural immune system is fighting it. The west might have a treatment but not cure by forcing a fair solution, rather than siding with the cancer. The 1 Billion Muslim world needs to be convinced that they could tame their cancer and it should not be a death sentence. That t reatment is in the hands of the US and the west. If the treatment is denied to them, they will fight the Doctors as well. It is all part of man's natural instinct.
4.12.2007 12:15pm
ed o:
actually, they haven't made any secret of their desire to exterminate Israel. what rock have you been living under. Israel is a blank spot on Middle Eastern maps with leaders of countries threatening to nuke it and the dear Palestinians being explicit in their desires for genocide. what world do people like you live in? where did this blind hatred for jews come from?
4.12.2007 12:15pm
Adeez (mail):
Great! Professor Bernstein: since I ran from the scene five years ago, I was waiting for someone to tell me exactly what happened on 9/11 and answer all those pesky unanswered questions. Perhaps that could be the subject of your next post?
4.12.2007 12:27pm
Gerhard (mail):
Bernstein,

How can you seriously argue that right-wing, neo-conservative Jews have NOT had substantial influence over US Middle East policy the last 7 years? Are you kidding me or what?
4.12.2007 1:11pm
davidbernstein (mail):
right up there with the trilateral commission and the bildebergers. it's always some small group of insiders who are secretly controlling us policy, and as part of a conspiracy. not just a matter of individual influence and ideology. it's sad to see paranoid conspiracy theories migrating from the old right to the new left.
4.12.2007 1:27pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
If I understand somebody thinking of the existence of Israel as a cancer, I should be a shrink dealing with criminal psychopaths.
The "fair" solution to the criminal psychopaths is the extermination of Israel. Less than that will not satisfy.
It is likely that those seeking a bit of illusory or temporary quiet in the Middle East will connive at the destruction and pretend, for a week or so, to be surprised and upset.
No, I don't blame all Muslims for this. But if they believe in Walt-Musheimer, they are dumb or evil enough to believe in the destruction of Israel. I except the rest of them.
4.12.2007 1:31pm
Gerhard (mail):
It's not a conspiracy and they aren't acting secretly. What right-wing Jews in the country are doing is blatant and brazen. Actions speak louder than words, and their actions clearly indicate that they are acting in Israel NOT America's best interests.
4.12.2007 1:48pm
rarango (mail):
Question: if Israel were to disappear tomorrow, does anyone seriously think there would be peace in the middle east? At the rate the Palistinians are killing each other (of course it isnt a civil war) there wont be many left to populate a Palistinian state.
4.12.2007 1:57pm
Daniel950:
It is not in America's interests to eradicate the only democracy in the Middle East. It is not in America's interests to side with pathological Jew-haters who want to obliterate every Jewish man, woman, and child in Israel, and on the entire planet. It is not in America's interests to side with a people who currently hold Osama bin Laden in higher regard precisely because he attacked America.

The Israelis withdrew from Gaza, they pulled up many settlements from the West Bank, and they tried making peace again and again. They were bombed repeatedly, targeted by suicide bombers going specifically after innocent civilians. Frankly, I think they're just tired. Hence, the security barrier.

What possible reason does Iran have for threatening to nuke Israel? What has Israel EVER done to Iran?
4.12.2007 1:57pm
yankev (mail):

if Israel were to disappear tomorrow, does anyone seriously think there would be peace in the middle east? At the rate the Palistinians are killing each other (of course it isnt a civil war) there wont be many left to populate a Palistinian state.


Rarango, get with the program! Are you not aware that the Palestinian civil war was orchestrated by the Jews Zionists? As the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the two coalition wars against Iraq, Saddam's slaughter of the Kurds, the 9/11 attacks, the Al Qaeda attack on a Jordanian hotel, AIDS, SIDS, the world drug trade, and soggy onion rings? All of these beliefs are a given among much of the Middle East (okay, except the part about the onion rings).

MRB may have a point, though, about Arab and Israeli governments being taken over by radical elements. No, Israel has never advocated the abolition of any Arab state nor the extermination of any Arab populace. On the other hand, the leadership of the PA has consistently taken the position that simply buying property at inflated prices from the lawful owners does not give Jews the right to live among people who want to see them slaughtered, that the use of force to defend Jews against those who would kill them is never justified, that the Jewish religion is a vile and reprehensible set of lies and superstitions, that Jews are fair game for kidnapping and ransom (to the point of thousands of convicted terrorists and killers being demanded in exchange for a single Jew), that Jews have no paticular right to practice the Jewish religion and no historic ties to the area, and should (at best) be expelled and all their land and goods confiscated. The government of Israel has recently been adopting some or all of these views in increasing measure. So maybe the extremists have taken over the Israeli government as well.
4.12.2007 2:17pm
Gerhard (mail):
"It is not in America's interests to eradicate the only democracy in the Middle East."

Israel is a racist theocracy.

"It is not in America's interests to side with pathological Jew-haters who want to obliterate every Jewish man, woman, and child in Israel, and on the entire planet."

Why do these people hate Jews? Could it have something to do with the fact that these people were thrown off of their land, murdered, raped and our now currently living under a harsh, unjust occupation implemented by the very same people that stole their land?

"It is not in America's interests to side with a people who currently hold Osama bin Laden in higher regard precisely because he attacked America."

This might have something to do with America being complicit in Israel's actions by providing them with financial and military aid? The friend of my enemy is, well, my enemy too.

"The Israelis withdrew from Gaza, they pulled up many settlements from the West Bank, and they tried making peace again and again."

You can't honestly believe this, right? Gaza was a de facto prison. The Palestinians had no sovereignty or rights over their borders, air space, water, imports/exports, travel, etc, etc. If Israel really wanted to make peace they would DECLARE THEIR BORDERS. What reason do they have for not having done this? Think long and hard about that before you respond.

"Frankly, I think they're just tired. Hence, the security barrier. "

This is just too funny. Tired? Hahaha. Hint for the answer to the question I asked you above, the "security barrier" has something to do with why Israel won't declare its borders.

"What possible reason does Iran have for threatening to nuke Israel? What has Israel EVER done to Iran?"

What possible reason do neo-conservative American Jews have for vehemently advocating and fabricating evidence to attack Iraq? What has Iraq EVER done to America? Oh, that's right, they were a supposed threat to Israel.
4.12.2007 2:22pm
DBL (mail):
Unfortunately, the Westerners who encourage the Palestinian Arab revanchists are in large part to blame for the lack of progress towards peace between Israel and its neighbors.
4.12.2007 2:28pm
PaulB (mail):
Supporters of Israel have every right to attempt to influence American foreign policy including encouraging fellow Americans to support candidates that are sympathetic to their views and to vote against candidates who are not.

However, it is hypocritical for organizations that hold such views to complain when opponents criticize back. Is criticism of pro-Israel groups harsher than criticism of tobacco companies, trial lawyers, oil companies, public employee unions? All of these groups and many more are criticized daily for being "powerful" and using contributions to get legislation passed that they desire.

If you disagree with the critics of a pro-Israel foreign policy, try responding to the issues at hand rather than implying anti-Semitism to any or all critics. Do you really think that the case for Israel is so weak that ad hominem attacks should be the first response?
4.12.2007 2:57pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Paul B.

The case against Israel is so obviously dishonest that there is no sense pretending to take those proponents in good faith.

No amount of fact-correcting makes a difference to them. In discussion, there is the implication that, given more and better information, one might change one's mind. In many political discussions, that is absolutely not on the table. It only looks like a discussion. And that is dishonest, along with the so-called facts.

Faced with such dishonesty masquerading as a discussion, one can either do an ad hominem, which may well have the virtue of being true, or ignoring the person.
4.12.2007 3:02pm
Daniel950:
"Israel is a racist theocracy."

Actually, it's a democratic state in which Muslim palestinians serve in its parliament.

"Why do these people hate Jews? Could it have something to do with the fact that these people were thrown off of their land, murdered, raped and our now currently living under a harsh, unjust occupation implemented by the very same people that stole their land?"

Actually, it's because the founder of Islam, Mohammed, was very specific in his attacks on Jews - written in the Koran. Mohammed called for the extermination of Jews that did not submit to dhimmi status. Try reading the Koran sometime.

"This might have something to do with America being complicit in Israel's actions by providing them with financial and military aid?"

As opposed to the millions of dollars we've given the Palestinians? Please. Why are you so intent on carrying water for Jew-haters?

"You can't honestly believe this, right? "

Actually, in fact, Israel did pull out of Gaza. Gaza is now administered by the Palestinians. There is no Gaza "occupation" anymore. Yet, the Palestinians there still seem intent on murdering Israeli citizens.

"What has Iraq EVER done to America? Oh, that's right, they were a supposed threat to Israel."

Actually, Iraq attacked Israel without provocation in the Gulf War, and has funded Palestinian suicide bombers since then. Iraq also continued to attack American planes patrolling the no-fly zone, and was in continual disregard of its obligations under the Gulf War cease-fire. Israel had every right to be completely behind America's overthrow of Iraq.
4.12.2007 3:08pm
rarango (mail):
Daniel: I was going to respond much as you did, but somehow, given Gerhard's take on things, I figured it was a waste of time.

On a somewhat different note, I would suggest that the very presence of Israel serves a very immportant purpose for the theocratic and dictatorial regimes of the mid east: It provides an easy external focus for potentially restive populations. From my somewhat dated experience in the mid east (1988), not many Arabs really liked the Palistinians: Palistintian expatriots in Saudi Arabia were closely watched, monitored and viewed as subversive.

If Israel ceased to exist, the rest of the Arab world would have to create another Israel.
4.12.2007 3:19pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
I wonder what it is about Israel that causes Muslim terrorists to kill civilians in southern Thailand. Or in the Phillipines.
What did Spain have to do with Israel?
Or Algeria--see recent bombing there.
The plot to take over the Canadian parliament, behead the PM and then blow the place up was supported by, according to a poll after the arrests, about 12% of the Canadian Muslim population. Oil? Israel?
4.12.2007 3:32pm
Kelvin McCabe:
Perhaps the Arab leaders think that the "jewish lobby" pushes many buttons in the U.S. establishment because of things like this:

http://www.aipac.org/

Top Leaders Reaffirm Strong Bipartisan Support for U.S.-Israel Relationship

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke to AIPAC activists.
AIPAC's largest-ever Policy Conference featured addresses from leading Democrats and Republicans, including speeches by Vice President Dick Cheney, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH). In addition, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert spoke to the more than 6,000 attendees live via satellite from Jerusalem, and Israel's Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni traveled to Washington to address the record crowd.

The conference featured more than 100 different breakout sessions where conference delegates heard from Middle East experts, scholars and statesmen about the various issues affecting the U.S.-Israel relationship. Delegates participated in more than 500 Capitol Hill meetings with their lawmakers. Next year's AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, D.C. is slated for June 2-4, 2008.

Perhaps someone on this thread or anywhere can point to a lobby group for an outside nation state that commands this type of audience among U.S.politicans on a yearly basis.

It may certaintly be the case, given the authors background and institutional prestige, that their book on the isreali lobby has increased the perception of the so-called 'massive jewish conspiracy' and provided fodder for the anti-isreali arab world, a world already anti-isreali to begin with and not needing much prodding along, but it would not be fair to the objective truth of the situation to deny that one of the authors' major premises is in fact likely true: the jewish lobby, specifically AIPAC, has significant influence over the national Congress.

The questions and debate over whether these actions are in America's or Isreal's best interest is peripheral, in my view, to the question of whether a specific lobby group, AIPAC, can and does influence a significant portion of the national congress. And, to my knowledge, AIPAC does not deny it does command such influence. It is after all their mission statement: "AIPAC's primary mission is to work with America's leaders to strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship." And by all accounts, they have been quite successful.
4.12.2007 3:44pm
Bleepless (mail):
There is a tiny minority of Muslims not collaborating with monsters. You do not hear much about them, since they do not want to be murdered. Even when some are willing to expose themselves to Islamist violence, they have trouble getting an audience. I call your attention to PBS suppressing their own documentary on American Muslims who oppose murder and tyranny.
4.12.2007 3:47pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Were Israel not under mortal threat from its neighbors, we'd have about as much interest as we do in, say, Switzerland.

If the Arabs can prove they have no interest in destroying Israel, and keep it up for longer than the current record--two and a half seconds--the need for such contact might disappear. Would disappear.

But, given the necessary condition, it's not likely in the next couple of lifetimes.

I should repeat, if the west manages to give away Israel, the breathing space gained won't be as long as your next breath.
4.12.2007 3:56pm
rarango (mail):
Kevin McCabe--I agree with your point that there is a lobby in the US that seeks to influence US policy toward Israel and is relatively powerful as measured by the continued US support of Israel since 1948.

The more important question, it seems to me is, would this lobby be equally influential if successive US administrations believed that non-support of Israel would be in the US national interest. I could only guess.
4.12.2007 3:58pm
ed o:
AIPAC is the reason islamists want to kill? the extent to which the jew haters of the left will go to justify things such as murder should frighten anyone.
4.12.2007 4:01pm
DBL (mail):
No one here seems to want to address the Brooks point that the Arab intellectuals he met with are no longer interested in looking into the problems with the Arab world - its failure to adapt to the modern world, its failure to produce any science or technology, its failure to produce open societies, its failure to make any constributions to the world since the glories of the middle ages, etc., etc. - and instead have reverted to the comforting belief that all their problems are caused by the Jews. This strikes me as dysfunctional to say the least.
4.12.2007 4:02pm
yankev (mail):
Daniel950, excellent response to Gerhard, but as Richard and Rrango point out, I doubt that he's listening.


Actually, it's because the founder of Islam, Mohammed, was very specific in his attacks on Jews - written in the Koran. Mohammed called for the extermination of Jews that did not submit to dhimmi status. Try reading the Koran sometime.


I might have added that Palestinian children are taught in their UN funded schools that Jews are subhumans who are responsible for all the world's problems, and that Palestinian children and adults are fed a steady diet of lies, incitement and fabricated reports of non-existent atrocities in their books, newspapers, fils, TV and radio news, and music.

Say, Gerhard, why did European Christians hate Jews? After all, we never threw THEM off their land. They had their excuses too -- they claimed we murdered their god, stole and desecrated their reliqious items (e.g. the host), raped and murdered them, killed their children to make Passover matzo, poisoned their wells, caused the Black Death and on ad nauseam. If there had been blogs 800 years ago, I'm sure you would have swallowed their excuses too.
4.12.2007 4:03pm
ed o:
for people like Gerhard and the pseudo-intellectual jew haters, it is simply enough that the jews are there to make them worthy of killing. they would find some equally despicable reason if Israel vanished and its citizens moved to Europe as was suggested by one of their idols from Iran. have they yet figured out if it's nature or nurture that contributes to the jew hatred out in the world?
4.12.2007 4:21pm
Daniel950:

"Daniel950, excellent response to Gerhard, but as Richard and Rrango point out, I doubt that he's listening."


You're right, he's probably not. And for the record, I'm a conservative, American Catholic. One doesn't have to be Jewish to understand that there is a lot of hatrid directed at Jewish people, and specifically Israel, that have nothing to do with Israeli "policies" and everything to do with bigotry and Muslim extremism.
4.12.2007 4:27pm
Hoosier:
Gerhard has decided to blame the victim. Ironic, as it turns out: European Christians will soon find themselves to be the victims.

The Gerhardian point has always eluded me, at least when it comes to, well . . . me. I am an ethnically Irish American, raised (naturally) as a Catholic. Why am I a supporter of Israel (Defined as beleiving that Israel should continue to exist)? I'm not connected with AIPAC. Or any secret Zionist societies. I'm not even "right-wing."

The reason, Gerhard, really is that I look at Israel and see a democracy with a (highly) contentious parliament; a (highly) confontational press; equality for women; and the vote for Arabs. It would be wiser--in the realist terms of Prof. Mearsheimer--to ally ourselves with the oil-producers. It would be safer to just ignore the region altogether.

But many of us in this country support Israel's battle against hostile neighbors because we like what we see of Israel, and don't like what we see of Israel's neighborhood.

AIPAC lobbies for Israel. No question about that. But American policy would not shift against Israel if all the Jews in the US decided to take a vow of silence. There's a cultural element to any nation's foreign policy--a fact that the hard-core realists don't get-- and this element, in this case, leads us to lean toward the Zionist Pigs.

Sorry.
4.12.2007 4:34pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
DBL. Good point. Since western intellectuals are obsessed with the failings of the west, what about Muslim intellectuals keeps them looking resolutely outward?

Possibly it's the theoretical connection between the Koran and society. If there's something wrong with society, that means there must be something wrong with the Koran. Since the societies with the most wrong with them are following current views of the Koran most closely....
4.12.2007 4:42pm
Michael B (mail):
Of the security barrier, see here, synopsis:

1) The height per se of the security barrier is sometimes criticized. The reason the barrier has been constructed as an imposing wall, along some stretches, is due to the fact that it separates Israeli pedestrians and automobile drivers who are moving parallel or adjacent to the barrier from potential snipers on the Arab refugee ("Palestinian") side of the barrier, which snipers have positioned themselves in multi-story buildings. (Again, the barrier is, during some stretches, a wall, during other stretches it is an imposing fence - and at times a ditch as well - to prevent vehicle penetrations).

2) In empirical terms, the barrier has, and in dramatic fashion, served its intended purpose. For example, as reflected in the graph in the above link and concerning the portion of the barrier completed at the end of 2003 (i.e. attacks originating in Judea and Samaria), the following. Prior to completion of this barrier, during 2003, a total of 135 people were killed and 632 people were variously injured and wounded. After completion of the barrier and during the first six months of 2004, 19 people were killed and 102 were injured and wounded due to attacks. (In fact, during that six month period of 2004, the number killed and wounded was zero in areas immediately adjacent to the barrier itself.)

3) There is also an effective barrier around Gaza (the barrier discussed above is in the West Bank). The suicide/homicide bomber who struck today, Jan. 29, 2007, is reported as originating from Gaza. However, he entered Eilat, the site of today's attack, by first entering Egypt, thus circumventing the Gaza barrier. Other than these types of circumventions, the Gaza barrier has been 100% effective.

4) Both Israeli Jews and Arabs (Arabs comprise appx. 22% of Israel's population), with very few exceptions, favor the security barrier. (This is reflective of how Israeli Arabs feel, in general terms, more positively toward living in Israel vs. living in an Arab refugee ("Palestinian") area in Gaza or the West Bank. When given the option at various historical junctures, they have consistently voted with their feet, favoring Israeli territory, govt. and administration.)

5) In terms of the West Bank security barrier not strictly and solely following the green line, the '49 armistice line, the reason for that is due to the fact of other, subsidiary security concerns. For example the town of Qalqilya (aka Kalkilya) has been a certral launching point for suicide/homicide attacks and other terror initiatives against Israeli civilian populations.
4.12.2007 6:38pm
Kelvin McCabe:
Rarango: That is a very good question indeed and one i am not qualified to answer.

I would hope that any American administration would put America's interests first and foremost when considering foreign policy objectives and actions, especially when american lives, credibility and billions or trillions of dollars are on the line.

I suppose the real test for me as far as Walt and Mearsh's conclusions go, will be what happens with regard to Iran. There is no doubt that U.S. military is stretched thin with two current wars going on simultaneously. Invading Iran, without first ending one or both of the current wars, would to me be insanity. I think everyone is aware of Isreal's position with regard to Iran. If we invade iran at the behest of Isreal, despite overwhelming sentiment here at home for our troops to come home from the middle east, then I think the conspiracy theorists will feel thesmelves vindicated, and perhaps rightly so.(So wouldthe military industrial complex conspiracy theorists for that matter)

But then again, when have the d.c. establishment in the last 50 years ever really cared about the average american'sfeelings? I dont count corproations as u.s. citizens.

I should note that i am vehemetly opposed to the overarching influence special interest lobby groups, of all stripes, are on our system of government. Perhaps idealistic, but i think the american congress was sent there to do OUR bidding. Both parties have failed in this regard for a long long time, but at least with the current dems, they are trying to legislate into law what they feel the american people want with regard to iraq. As far as everything else, well, we the people are as utterly powerless as we were before.

If consecutive administrations were to ignore isreal, would the lobby still have an immense effect? I guess that depends. It seems to me that that donors give money to the lobby because the lobby gets results. If there is no results, would the money dry up? IF the money dries up, would the politicans come and speak at the AIPAC conference? I suppose if one were to consider politicans egotistical, greedy windbags interested in only their own self-preservation, then I would say No, the lobby would not be as influential. Since i do believe that, my answer is No. It would not be as influential :)
4.12.2007 6:38pm
rarango (mail):
Kelvin: thanks for a thoughtful reply. Perhaps one of these days the world will change enough we could actually find out the answer to that question.
4.12.2007 7:01pm
Gerhard (mail):
If Israel really wanted to make peace they would DECLARE THEIR BORDERS. What reason do they have for not having done this?
4.12.2007 7:07pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
If Israel really wanted to make peace they would DECLARE THEIR BORDERS. What reason do they have for not having done this?
Gerhard, given your factually-challenged understanding of the Middle East, you may not get this, but there's no such thing as "their" borders. A border is a line between two political jurisdictions, "owned" by both sides. Declaring "their" borders is the equivalent of declaring the other side's borders as well. Unilaterally declaring someone else's border does not 'make peace.'

If you don't believe me, why don't you go over to your neighbor's house right now and announce to him that you think the property line is in a certain spot. Make sure you pick the neighbor who wants you dead.
4.12.2007 7:24pm
yankev (mail):

If we invade iran at the behest of Isreal, despite overwhelming sentiment here at home for our troops to come home from the middle east, then I think the conspiracy theorists will feel themelves vindicated, and perhaps rightly so.(So wouldthe military industrial complex conspiracy theorists for that matter)

Then again, the invasion of Iraq also led them conspiracy theorists to feel vindicated, even though Israel was indifferent to whether the US invaded Iraq, believing that Iran was a far greater threat to Israel, the US, and the world in general.

Not to mention how many of these theorists felt themselves vindicated by the 9/11 attacks.

For the anti-Semites, the conspiracy theorists, and especially for those who fall into both groups, any and every occurrence can be used to vindicate the theory. If the occurrence fits, the proof is obvious. If it does not fit -- and especially if it flatly contradicts -- the theory, then it is proof of how cleverly the villains (be they Jews, the Trilateral Commission, Karl Rove, or whoever) cover their tracks so as to better manipulate the innocent and the uniformed.

If we invade Iran, those who are neither conspiracy theorists nor anti-Semites might actually think that our elected leaders either accurately or foolishly concluded that it would be the best course for the US.
4.12.2007 7:30pm
Michael B (mail):
Gerhard,

What borders do you believe Hamas (not to mention Fatah, other subsidiary jihadist/terrorist orgs such as Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hizbollah, Iran and Syria, etc.) is interested in respecting? And what evidence, in empirical/rational terms, can you point to in order to substantiate your belief?

Avoiding unnecessary incitements in certainly and obviously desirable. But avoiding salient, critical facts which run contrary to your apparent convictions about a declaration of borders is likewise needed. When Israel withdrew from norther Samaria, when they withdrew from southern Lebanon, when they withdrew from Gaza, the result was not "land for peace" as is commonly summarized to represent UNSCR 242 and other agreements, instead it was land for more aggression, land for more terror initiatives against Israeli civilian populations, i.e. land for more salafist/jihadist aggression under the rubric of "the Israeli/Palestinian conflict".

I.e. where is the logic in what you're attempting to forward; where is the grounding, the basis and substance, of what you're attempting to promote? Is it all in Euro-Left and related ideas, in some idee fixe, or is there some reality and substance you have in mind but which is not at all apparent?
4.12.2007 7:38pm
yankev (mail):

A border is a line between two political jurisdictions, "owned" by both sides. Declaring "their" borders is the equivalent of declaring the other side's borders as well. Unilaterally declaring someone else's border does not 'make peace.'


Excuses, excuses. The PA by contrast obviously DOES want piece peace -- they have declared again and again that their borders are to include every square inch occupied by the Zionist Entity at any time, whether before or after 1967. Or 1948. Or 1918. You can't get more declarative than that.

Someone might also point out to Gerhard that UN Security Council Resolution 242 calls upon the parties to negotiate secure and recognized borders, and that Israel's obligation under that resolution to withdraw from lands captured in the 1967 does not take effect. Gerhardt's peace loving Arab nations have insisted at all times that no negotiations will occur until Israel has withdrawn from every square inch -- at which time, the Arab nations may or may not be willing to negotiate whether Israel will be allowed to continue to exist. Then again, why confuse him with facts?
4.12.2007 7:47pm
yankev (mail):
Sorry, let's try that sentence again. Meant to write

Someone might also point out to Gerhard that UN Security Council Resolution 242 calls upon the parties to negotiate secure and recognized borders, and that Israel's obligation under that resolution to withdraw from lands captured in its 1967 war of defense does not take effect until those negotiations have been successfuly concluded.
4.12.2007 7:50pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Gerhard knows. He's pumping out the PA talking points, hoping somebody will be dumb enough to bite.
But he knows better.
4.12.2007 7:50pm
yankev (mail):
Richard,

Gerhard knows. He's pumping out the PA talking points, hoping somebody will be dumb enough to bite.
But he knows better.

Have you past experience with out troll?
4.12.2007 7:53pm
yankev (mail):
As opposed to future experience? I can't believe I wrote that. Typos are one thing, but when I get that illiterate, it's time to log off.
4.12.2007 7:55pm
rarango (mail):
Yankev, Richard--facts will not change the mind of a fool. But bless you for trying.
4.12.2007 8:02pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Actually, Yankev and rarango, I don't try to "correct" a fool or a troll.
I want them to know--fragile ego that I have--that they haven't fooled me. It's not that I want them to know the truth. I'm pretty sure they do know the truth. I want them to know I caught them lying like a rug.
4.12.2007 8:28pm
PDXLawyer (mail):
Hate to add anything to this thread which is on Gerhard's side, but two points:

1. The 1967 Six Day War began when Israel attacked (and trounced) Egypt, occupying Gaza and the Siani Desert. Jordan then attacked Israel in support of its ally and was also roundly defeated, losing control of the West Bank. One could, of course, argue that Israel had good reasons to attack Egypt, so that the war was "defensive" in a moral sense, but if that's your view, it is probably more accurate to say it was "justified" than that it was "defensive." The only defensive war Israel has ever fought was the 1973 Yom Kippur war, in which Egypt attacked Israel.

I don't condemn Israel for its wars just because they weren't defensive. Purely defensive policies lose the iniative and tend to lose the war, unless one has a rather vast advantage in material. On the other hand, saying these wars were "defensive" as a justification of them is simply rewriting history.

2. If you read Mearshimer &Walt, they never suggest that the "Israel Lobby" is a conspiracy. They don't suggest that there is a central organization, or that members of the lobby attempt to conceal its activities in any systematic way. These are all red herrings raised mostly by those who are upset at what M&W *do* suggest.

M&W *do* suggest that the Israel Lobby influences US foreign relations in ways that are helpful to Israel without having much relationship to US goals. M&W *do* suggest that the facts which are most often cited as to why US/Israeli interests are aligned (Israel is a democracy and an ally, for example) don't fully explain the level of US support for Israel, which is much higher than our support to other democracies and allies, like Mexico.

I agree with M&W. It is hard to argue that US policy toward Israel isn't greatly driven by US identity politics (which certinly includes many Christians as well as Jews). If that view becomes widely accepted among voters, most of whom don't have a strong identification with Israel, the lobby will begin to look more like a "special interest." Of course, nobody likes to think of themselves as a "special interest."
4.12.2007 9:56pm
Hoosier:
One of the complaints about the security barrier is that it amounts to a declaration of an international border by one party.

Gerhard is repeating the Hamas talking points. But I hold even trolls to the law of non-contradiction.

I'm funny that way.
4.12.2007 10:23pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Hoosier. It "amounts" to something or other which will quickly disappear given the disappearance of the necessity for it.
4.12.2007 10:57pm
Kelvin McCabe:
Yankev: I do not deny your point regarding the methods conspiracy theorists use to validate their conspiracies. I do dispute the question of whether invading Iran at this precise moment in time is, would, or could be in America's best interest.

WE are currently bogged down in two wars with no clear sight in end. Our troops are overworked, under-rested, and over extended. We the people are hemoraghing (sp) money at an absurd pace and "we" are not happy. We want our boys and girls home. Adding a third war to the mix at this time isnt a mistake of judgment, or calculation, it would be an utter and complete catastrophe; both foreign and domestic. Who knows how Russia or China would react, just to name two major players with vested interests there? What credibility do we currently have with anybody in the world to build a coalition to engage in such an endeavor?

I suppose the conspiracy theorists of the Clean Break PNAC papers variety would say that invading Iraq and propping up the Shia would have resulted in a very foreseeable benefit to Iran, also Shia, and that Iran would be unable to resist the temptation to interfere in Iraq to ensure their interests were well served, and that said interefence would be a reason to invade Iran as well. Indeed this exactly seems to be happening. Iranian weapons found in Iraq...suspcted iranian revolutionary guard captured in iraq, former Shia leaders who fought with Iran in the Iran/Iraq war now having power in Iraq, and i read recently that iraqi militia members go to Iran to receive training. Jee - nobody could have foreseen that happening.

Does this mean that there is a vast conspiracy and that the PNAC clean break strategy IS the strategy that is currently being deployed by the U.S. to elimiinate hostile regimes in the ME one by one like dominoe's? No.

Does it mean that the current leadership of our country is severely incompetent, unrealistic, short-sighted, and sometimes just plain stupid? I would argue yes. I happen to remember Dick Cheney, under G.H.W. Bush, cautioning why in Gulf War I we should not take out Saddam, because the resulting chaos and anarchy within Iraq would be simply too much to justify removing him. Obviously his thoughts changed, to a more serene idea of being greeted as liberators, etc...

If you feel comfortable with these same morons declaring more wars for our safety from "mushroom clouds over major american cities" then I dont know if anything i say or anyone else can persuade you differently. If, however, your desire is to see Isreal protected at all costs as the main reason to restrain Iran and prevent it from going nuclear, then it seems any concern as to America's well-being would only be secondary. This is fine if you are an Isreali politician, citizen, etc... But if you are an American, living in America, and want Americans to finance and fight a war Isreal desparately wants us to fight because of your personal affiliation with Isreal or its religion then there is something of a disconnect that I cannot find sanction for. I think large segments of the AIPAC lobby truly believe the theory that whatever is in isreal's best interests is in America's best interest too. However, i also believe segments of the lobby want whats best for Isreal, period. Even if what's best for Isreal is or would be detrimental to America.

As i said earlier, i dont readily buy walt and mearsh's conclusion that the lobby can influence american policy to its own detriment as easily as they seem to argue it has, although i admit they make a compelling argument, but also said Iran would be a good test case. I can chalk up the Iraq fiasco to hubris, mismanagement, and miscalculation. There is simply no way invading Iran is in America's current best interest, however you want to define it, or that the American people want another war. So if we do go into Iran, perhaps I would change my mind and say the authors were right. What other explanation do you have if the bombs begin falling on Tehran?
4.13.2007 12:05am
advisory opinion:

. . . it is probably more accurate to say it was "justified" than that it was "defensive."


How so? A blockade is an act of war: in itself the blockade of the Straits of Tiran involves aggressive naval manoeuvring at the least. It is the equivalent of a naval siege.

The military response from the Israelis in defence of their sea lanes sparked a full blown land war, but that hardly makes it any less defensive. As far as jus ad bellum is concerned, the war started with the blockade.

If the Germans marched into Sudetenland without firing a shot and the Czechs decided to pummel them with heavy artillery fire and bomb Berlin for good measure, I'm not going to mince words and say that it wasn't really defensive "because" the Czechs fired first. Aggressive manoeuvring is aggression enough.


The only defensive war Israel has ever fought was the 1973 Yom Kippur war, in which Egypt attacked Israel.


1948? Or was that also "non-defensive"?
4.13.2007 12:12am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Kevin. You make a point that fighting with Iran can have no advantage for us, only for Israel. One of your implications is that we'll do a ground invasion and try the same thing we're doing in Iraq. I call that a planted axiom which is, however, visible, so perhaps it doesn't really count.
Anyway, it's wrong. It's not what we would do and so the disadvantages flowing from it don't matter.
The internal structure of Iran looks as if it would be far more likely to do its own spontaneous regime change if the modes of control are broken. Not like Iraq. No need to go into the reasons, you know them as well as anybody else. It just pays your point to pretend it isn't an option and hope to slide past it before others notice.
Another option is to dismantle by violence the means of war. Let the rest of the country alone.

IMO, your dishonest representation of the putative war means there's no percentage in discussing this further with you.

About the 1948 war: Yes, the Israelis were the offending party. Their existence offended the Arabs and what could you expect? The Arabs can't help themselves. I used to say that sarcastically, but maybe I'm literally correct.

I had an old copy of Liddell-Hart's book on strategy. It was a later edition which had an extensive letter from a friend in Israel in the afterword. The Israelis had, as usual, kicked Arab ass in '48 and were pursuing them. The international community stopped the pursuit. This provided the Arabs with the first of their no-fault aggressions.
For some reason, or some reasons, the Israelis have always fought so as to destroy the Arab's interest, but never touch their principle. The Arabs get beat, get rearmed with oil money, recruit tens of thousands of more men for whom there is no place in their society and they're ready to go again as if the previous failure never happened. They can keep that up forever. Israel, and the rest of us, will never be safe in that area until the Arab regimes are changed, until their principle is either substantially used up--by being put to other purposes by more civilized regimes, or by being destroyed, or by having whole cultures put onto different tracks. The existence of Israel is the reason for the hostility. The existence of non-Muslims is the reason for the hostility toward those not Israeli. The violence against so many around the world who have nothing to do with Israel demonstrates that the existence of Israel, while the reason for Arab hostility toward Israel, is not at all the answer. It does, though, provide a cheap excuse for those looking for some quiet before the catastrophe. Thing is, one side or the other needs to give up. We know the Arabs won't, voluntarily. So that means we need to coerce the Israelis into suicide. It isn't a matter of right. It's a matter of who's crazier, which is the Arabs. We can't work with them. Problem is, anybody who thinks throwing Israel to the wolves will solve anything is a fool, not to mention a moral zero.
4.13.2007 1:26am
Michael B (mail):
"M&W *do* suggest that (1) the Israel Lobby influences US foreign relations in ways that are helpful to Israel without having much relationship to US goals. M&W *do* suggest that (2) the facts which are most often cited as to why US/Israeli interests are aligned (Israel is a democracy and an ally, for example) don't fully explain the level of US support for Israel, which is much higher than our support to other democracies and allies, like Mexico." PDXLawyer (ref. #1 and #2 added)

The M-W paper isn't all that lengthy, about 40 pgs. and then another 40 pgs. of footnotes/support material. Too, they are prone to making some incredibly specious, overarching statements (in fact, they're often outlandish) in support of what their attempting to forward and convince their readers of (***). Nonetheless, a couple of questions:

1) In your opinion, what are the more salient, critical and cogent aspects of W-M's argument which support the idea that Israel is benefitted in a manner that is incommensurate with U.S. goals/interests or doesn't have "much relationship" with those interests? (Which is to say in a manner that evidences a striking or telling contrast with our relationship/aid with other countries, e.g., Egypt perhaps being a prime point of comparison to illustrate this point.)

2) Likewise, what are the more salient and cogently argued points M-W forward, in your opinion, in support of the idea that our relationship/aid vis-a-vis Israel is incommensurate to the fact they're a democracy, ally and are morally/ethically, culturally, socially/politically, etc. "at one" with our own interests and values which we believe to be foundational to classical liberal institutions, basic rights (e.g., habeas corpus, due process), stable forms of governance, etc.?

*** W-M, and in an extraordinarily facile manner, allude to the notion of a "peace treaty" with Israel/Syria; a positive valuation is placed upon Oslo; a simplistic allusion to denying the Arab refugees (Palestinians) their rights (without the slightest ref. to the realities, the facts on the ground); likewise a facile and unsupported allusion to a "pariah status" (also utterly devoid of substantiation, beyond the fact we're supposed to accept it as somehow obvious?!?!).
4.13.2007 3:29am
Michael B (mail):
Didn't think so. I wouldn't be able to point to very much that is cogent in a thoroughgoing sense in W-M either, certainly not in terms of the primary thesis they are attempting to forward. Individual and isolated facts, sure, but in terms of their more venturous thesis, there are times where it reaches, without any exaggeration, genuinely vapid levels, some of those were alluded to above, but those were only some of the more obvious examples.

Perhaps we're suppose to respect them for their academic bona fides in lieu of more critically examining their offering. Sad stuff.
4.13.2007 7:55pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Says something about academic bona fides, doesn't it?
4.14.2007 1:08am