Blogs > HNN > No, It's the Dog that Wags the Tail

Sep 17, 2007 6:42 pm


No, It's the Dog that Wags the Tail



Ever since the London Review of Books published the controversial findings of Universities of Chicago and Harvard professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt's research into the power of the Jewish, or Israesl lobby, the two men have been demonized as anti-Israel and even anti-Semitic. Now that the full product of their research has been published, as "The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy"(Farrar, Straus and Giroux ), and it's generated even more controversy because of its detailed, well-footnoted argument, that unquestioning US support for Israel goes against core US strategic interests and continues because of the undue influence and power of the so-called "Israel Lobby."

The Book is being severely criticized because it seems to confirm long-held anti-Semitic beliefs about undue Jewish political power. But in reality, the authors premise, and conclusions, are all wrong, or more precisely, backwards. Mearheimer and Walt seem to know little about the Middle East, Israel's role in US foreign policy, and what are core US goals and strategic interests in the region. They argue that this is a case of the 'tail wagging the dog'--a small client state and its allies in thee US leading the American government to engage in policies that are manifestly against its interests because of undue political power.

But this is nonsense. In fact, it is the other way around. The United States has been using Israel to fulfill its policies objectives for decades, from its role as a regional"pillar" (along with Saudi Arabia and Iran) in US containment strategies against the Soviet Union in the 1970s up until last summer, when the Bush administration encouraged a disastrous proxy war with Hezbollah as a way of testing the weapons and tactics of Iran, Hezbollah's main sponsor, in the event of a US attack.

Mearsheimer and Walt's book is also naive. It assumes that US political and economic leaders, especially those close to the Bush Administration, want to build peace and democracy in the Middle East, and that therefore supporting Israel's occupation hurts this cause. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. As I showed in great detail in my last book, "Why They Don't Hate Us," and my new book on the Oslo peace process"An Impossible Peace: Oslo and the Burdens of History," the United States has never supported democracy and peace in the region. Instead, its strategic goals center around the perpetuation of continuous but manageable levels of conflict, punctuated every decade or so by major wars, as the way to ensure relatively high oil prices, control over key petroleum reserves or at least denying China uncontrolled access to them, disproportionate level of arms spending across the region (by far the highest in the world, with the majority of funds spent on US weapons systems), and the continued survival of the authoritarian regimes that ensure the perpetuation of a system that has generated over a trillion dollars in profits to US oil and arms countries just since September 11.

This pattern was made evident most recently by the announcement of a $20 billion arms sale to the Saudis, which was naturally compensated for by a $30 billion sale to Israel (much of it paid to US arms companies by the US government in one of the largest corporate welfare schemes in history, under the guise of "aid to Israel") and at least $20 billion more to Egypt (much of that also in the form of aid paid directly to defense manufacturers) and other allies. That's $70 billion for US weapons manufacturers in the next decade or so, just to keep the "balance of power" in the region.

Viewed this way, the end of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, by all accounts one of the main fulcrums of the larger problems of the region, would be a strategic disaster for the United States. It would lead to lower oil prices, less spending on arms, and a loss of whatever slim levels of legitimacy is possessed by Arab dictators and monarchs, and open up the chance the the people of the region would decide to spend their money on things other than buying up overpriced US weapons, consumer debt, and high end real estate.

The authors have it wrong: it's not Americans who are suffering from undo influence of the Jewish Lobby; it's Israelis and Palestinians, and now the families of American servicemen and women deployed in the conflict zones of the "arc of instability" in the Middle East and Central Asia--not to mention the citizens of the Middle East who are the most direct victims of Bush's present policies--who are suffering so that some of the most powerful and wealthy corporations in world history can continue to reap hundreds of billions of dollars in profits without anyone questioning why this system continues and whose interests it actually benefits.

One thing's for sure, aside from the "Jewish Lobby" (for whom the book is a God-send of a fundraising tool), the two groups most happy about the publication of "The Israel Lobby" are the oil and arms lobbies, unquestionably the most powerful, and invisible, lobbies in the United States.




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omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

A-
The interesting think about Levine's essay is that despite its basically wrong conclusions re who , RECENTLY, wags whom it DOES HAVE several basically correct contentions , namely:
a:" The United States has been using Israel to fulfill its policies objectives for decades, from its role as a regional "pillar" (along with Saudi Arabia and Iran) in US containment strategies against the Soviet Union in the 1970s up until last summer"

b:" the United States has never supported democracy and peace in the region"

c:"... the continued survival of the authoritarian regimes that ensure the perpetuation of a system that has generated over a trillion dollars in profits to US oil and arms countries just since September 11. "
(All being undeniable facts of the matter at hand that should be analysed from the perspective of "Who is the ultimate beneficiary from these policies "??.)
B-
However despite the "rationality" of most of the reasons supporting both the "pro" and the "con" camps an inescapable question arises:

"Do those policies ultimately serve the interests of the American nation??"

I have always construed the American/Israeli relationship re the Middle East as a "partnership" with a "Senior partner" and a "Junior partner".

It certainly started that way with the "senior parner" in full command; witness 1956.
However with the passage of time the partnership evolved into a more balanced relation of relative power.

Then the virile and dynamic "junior partner" managed to replace a now senile and infiltrated "senior partner" in the command post of the "partnership".

It is NOT solely nor MOSTLY the pathetic senility of the "senior partner" that led to the reversal of their repective roles and power.

More than any other single factor is the fact that the camp of the "senior partner" was deeply "infiltrated" by countless moles solely and sigle mindedly at the service of the "junior partner" ;whereas, on the other hand, the "senior partner" never had any allies nor the slightest influence into the inner (establishment) camp of the "junior partner".

The partnership is now SOLELY at the service of Israel even when Israel's interests go point blank against the USA's; witness the war in Iraq!

According to Woodward when the Bush administration was, post 9/11, contemplating the invasion of Afghanistan, WOLFOWITZ, no less, proposed instead that the USA invade Iraq not Afghanistan.(President Bush had to tell him to shut up.)

To Israel and Wolfowitz Afghanistan posed no threat to Israel's coveted role of regional super power; Iraq DID!

The whole matter is now in the hands of the American people who should decide who is the master in this "partnership".


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

What ever W&M came to believe in and declare is one think.
However what they documented and published, as reposted herein above by Mr. Clark, and below for ease of reference and reconsideration, is another totally different thing.
XXXXXXXXXXXXX
Here is what M+W ACTUALLY DID say, in their London article:


"On 16 August 2002, 11 days before Dick Cheney kicked off the campaign for war with a hardline speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Washington Post reported that ‘Israel is urging US officials not to delay a military strike against Iraq’s Saddam Hussein.’ By this point, according to Sharon, strategic co-ordination between Israel and the US had reached ‘unprecedented dimensions’, and Israeli intelligence officials had given Washington a variety of alarming reports about Iraq’s WMD programmes. As one retired Israeli general later put it, ‘Israeli intelligence was a full partner to the picture presented by American and British intelligence regarding Iraq’s non-conventional capabilities.’

Israeli leaders were deeply distressed when Bush decided to seek Security Council authorisation for war, and even more worried when Saddam agreed to let UN inspectors back in. ‘The campaign against Saddam Hussein is a must,’ Shimon Peres told reporters in September 2002. ‘Inspections and inspectors are good for decent people, but dishonest people can overcome easily inspections and inspectors.’

At the same time, Ehud Barak wrote a New York Times op-ed warning that ‘the greatest risk now lies in inaction.’ His predecessor as prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, published a similar piece in the Wall Street Journal, entitled: ‘The Case for Toppling Saddam’. ‘Today nothing less than dismantling his regime will do,’ he declared. ‘I believe I speak for the overwhelming majority of Israelis in supporting a pre-emptive strike against Saddam’s regime.’ Or as Ha’aretz reported in February 2003, ‘the military and political leadership yearns for war in Iraq.’

As Netanyahu suggested, however, the desire for war was not confined to Israel’s leaders. Apart from Kuwait, which Saddam invaded in 1990, Israel was the only country in the world where both politicians and public favoured war. As the journalist Gideon Levy observed at the time, ‘Israel is the only country in the West whose leaders support the war unreservedly and where no alternative opinion is voiced.’ In fact, Israelis were so gung-ho that their allies in America told them to damp down their rhetoric, or it would look as if the war would be fought on Israel’s behalf.

Within the US, the main driving force behind the war was a small band of neo-conservatives, many with ties to Likud. But leaders of the Lobby’s major organisations lent their voices to the campaign. ‘As President Bush attempted to sell the . . . war in Iraq,’ the Forward reported, ‘America’s most important Jewish organisations rallied as one to his defence. In statement after statement community leaders stressed the need to rid the world of Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction.’ The editorial goes on to say that ‘concern for Israel’s safety rightfully factored into the deliberations of the main Jewish groups.’

Although neo-conservatives and other Lobby leaders were eager to invade Iraq, the broader American Jewish community was not. Just after the war started, Samuel Freedman reported that ‘a compilation of nationwide opinion polls by the Pew Research Center shows that Jews are less supportive of the Iraq war than the population at large, 52 per cent to 62 per cent.’ Clearly, it would be wrong to blame the war in Iraq on ‘Jewish influence’. Rather, it was due in large part to the Lobby’s influence, especially that of the neo-conservatives within it."

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX


What we have here is two minor,small fry Zionists, Eckstein and Friedman, who believe and contend that they know more and reflect more accurately the wishes, desires and political outlook of Israel than;
-Shimon Peres
-Ehud Barak
-Benyamin Netanyahu
(All three are ex Prime ministers of Israel).
That , to say the least, is curious.

That Eckstein and Friedman should pretend that they "speak" more accurately for Israeli ambitions and designs than these three ex prime ministers of Israel whose unambiguous declarations leave absolutely no doubt about what they wanted the USA to do is NOT only curious but is equally interesting and revealing.

AS with Samuel Freedman, once the war on Iraq became inevitable and a fait accompli it was in the Zionists and Jews interests to disassociate themselves from this war ...for obvious reasons!

Now with the majority of the American nation against the war it
is imperative , more than ever before , for the Zionist movement to disassociate itself from this failed and hugely expensive, solely to the USA, adventure .
Hence Eckstein and Friedman's pretensions!

What ever reasons led W&M to change their minds, although that is NOT difficult to guess, DOES NOT change what Peres, Barak and Netanyahu, all three pillars of the Israeli ruling establishment, demanded, urged and encouraged the USA to undertake.
.




omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

NO...Not Eckstein!
For he has an uncanny, inborn?, propensity to rewrite others' words in a manner that would simplify his task to refute them...still, even then, he always fails .

In a way he, Prof (????) Eckstein, is the typical blinded bigot.
He is immune to anything and everything except his biases that he repeats indefatigably then falls and fails again...until Friedman comes to his rescue ...sometimes it is Simon.

One thing though about the herd they never let him down...they never leave him in the lurch that he dug himself into.

But then ,should they, the herd, think about it they would realize that they are doing him a disservice because he goes on falling and failing again, again and again!

On the other hand Friedman, a once sober and civil antagonist, has equally suffered from his patronage of poor Eckstein; it has virtually degraded him …it has brought him down to his friend’s level in both substance and style.


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

So Prof Eckstein it is your word and Freidman's against Peres',Barak's and Netanyahu's!
You two know more about what Israel really wants and demands from the USA than the three of them combined!
That is NOT megalomania...that is utter idiocy.

However now that Israel got what it wanted ,the whole thing has been bogged down at a tremendous political,financial and human cost ( solely to the USA of course) and the majority of America is against it ...the prudent thing to do is DISASSOCIATE oneself from it.
Understandable!


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

"Let us assume you are correct and there were 20 million Christian Zionists."

I never said any such thing. I quoted that highly questionable number from a googled Christian Science Monitor article from 2004 - probably the peak of the neo-con/Jesus-Freak delusion about America remaking the world at the hands of Karl Rove and Paul Wolfowitz. Probably some millions still do believe in some version of the Jews-move-to-Israel-to-die-in-the-final-Apocalypse fantasy, but those same folks very probably also believe a great shifting mixture of other pseudo-Christian garbage and other nonsense fed them by hucksters on TV too. 2 million, 20 million, 68 million or whatever: such speculative guesses are irrelevant to the question of influence on Congress. Of course, there are surely more plastic crucifixes than menorahs in Oklahoma, but a nut-case like Inhofe can be a nut-case all on his own. The inability of the rest of the Congress to ever find fault with any Israeli policy is a different matter.

The rest of your comments are tangents to this issue of the intimidation and/or cowardice of Congress to stand up for a sensible view of Mideast mess, which is that Israeli gov't policies have been PART of the problem over there.

Well-organized lobbies with dedicated (or brainwashed) followers can have a stranglehold effect on American legislators. NRA and AARP are but two examples of organized groups with dues-paying members and focused effective agendas (unlike Christian Zionists, Flat-Earthers, or Astrologists). This does not mean that there aren't Congresspeople who resist gun control or social security reform for other reasons. It does explain a widespread reluctance to take on such single-issue lobbies.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

There is no "movement" to speak of here except a movement to liberate the most gullible and ignorant Christians and pretend-Christians of their money.

You can't bear to acknowledge the documented examples of organized political partisans in a foreign country, acting for very rational though self-serving motives, "wagging the dog" of some of their less-discerning religious compatriots, and other pliable tools in America, but you are gung-ho to leap at any vaguely plausible hint that some of the wackiest charlatan exploiters of another religion might be "wagging the dog" of the government of the most powerful country in the world, for no reason that benefits anyone outside of a few arms merchants and one rather disreputable foreign political group.
Very inconsistent, to say the least.

Just reiterate one more time: I am not saying there is no benefit to America of supporting the Israeli government on a regular and wide, yet still discriminating basis. That does not require being a subservient lap-dog, however. I am also not saying that "Christian Zionist" snake oil is totally irrelevant to keeping the lapdog a lapdog. This hokum seems to have made a few appearances in George W. Bush's conversations with his "higher father," for example. I am saying that this vague millenialist emotion is secondary to the vastly more focused, long-standing, well-equipped, motivated and ruthless Likud Lobby which likes to be called the Israel Lobby or Jewish Lobby in order to disguise its real agenda, which as the excerpted editorial in my first post made deftly clear, has little to do with truly helping Israel, Jews, or the US.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

and Christian Science Monitor are sufficient indication that a now mostly wacko interpretation of one small bit of Christian doctrine propagated by hucksters and tricksters does not constitute some great "movement." Reading 20 years of public Israeli and Jewish vilification of any Congressperson who dares to question the policies of the Israeli government suggest to me Congressional absurdity (in this particular case, not in general) is not attributable to lunatic fringe Christianity. Several years of experience on HNN with your poor memory, poor math abilities, and phobias about Islam and Israel, make me reluctant to take your word for anything related to these matters. You sent me to Google. I went there, and your 68 million went poof.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

IF (a big if) M & W claim that an Israeli tail wagged the US dog into Iraq in 2003 then they are out to lunch on a huge expense account with quantities of intoxicating spirits. I doubt they do though. There were some Israeli connections to some of the think-tank chickenhawks behind the Iraq invasion, but the political calculus behind the "worst US foreign policy decision" of all time points more clearly in many directions other than the Likud Lobby.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

You are deliberately distorting what M&W say in that article, Mr. E. Quelle Surprise.

Their section on Iraq is about 15% of the whole London Review of Books article. I think it is the probably weakest section of the piece, and I fundamentally disagree with their conclusions about Israeli hawks being a critical force behind the U.S. decision to undertake the Iraq Cakewalk Fiasco, but M&W do NOT say what you pretend they do. Nowhere do they claim that "Israel and the Jews were behind the Iraq War." The word "Jews" does not appear even once in that entire section on Iraq. What they do say is:

"Clearly, it would be wrong to blame the war in Iraq on ‘Jewish influence’."

M&W are rather sloppy in their use of terms such as "The Lobby," and they tend to use other imprecise language such as "neo-cons" interchangeably with it, adding further muddiness. But, their basic case against Chickenhawk gold-plated flaming posteriors such as Douglas Feith, William Kristol, Richard Perle, Robert Kagan and Charles Krauthammer is damning and undeniable. It is not particularly important that these guys all happen to be rude, arrogant hypocrites, fanatical Lukidniks and also Jewish. The Big Point is that their idiotic hyping of the moronic Iraq invasion is spewed all over the documentary record and can only be a source of lasting shame to anyone associated with any of the other causes they espouse. They cannot hide from this massive shameful stain on their careers and lives, and it is probably one reason why M&W have gone on a general offensive with this piece at this time. Instead making up fable after fable, and pulling trick, after misattribution, after deception, after BS accusations of anti-Semitism to try to shelter these Towering Jerks from the thorough and everlasting condemnation they so richly deserve, how about doing what Moslems are so often (and quite rightly) called upon to do?: Condemn the horrors and outrages committed in your names. Other forces were much more decisive in fomenting the Iraq blunder, but they were among the most disgusting cheerleaders for it.

In any case, the simple observation I started the thread off with remains solid, notwithstanding the endless diversions of Friedman and now your more calculated smokescreening: There are plenty of reasons, including many sensible and readily defensible reasons, for America to support the people, state, and government of Israel in many ways. There are also some less savoury reasons. LeVine pointed out one, Friedman another. NONE of these reasons -good or lousy- justifies Congress treating US policy towards Israel as a holy and untouchable decree coming from whatever set of characters happens to be running the show in Jerusalem at the moment, as interpreted by the West Bank Settlement fanatics, AIPAC and their armies of clones, footsoldiers and dupes in America.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

M&W clearly have an agenda. So did and do the targets of their agenda (which is probably not prepositioning a declaration that "many of their friends are Jewish," by the way).

There is no good justification for mounting an all-out assault on the BASIC FACTS used to support -albeit not always very credibly- one agenda, while treating opposing agendas, and their LIES AND DECEPTIONS, as sacrosanct and untouchable.

By the way, we are still in my thread.
Can YOU explain the bizarre inability of the US Congress to ever find fault with the government of Israel? Do you really believe that Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert were and are God, and can never be criticized in the slightest without committing blasphemy? Where are the Congressional resolutions questioning the pitifully stupid and utterly counterproductive slaughter and bombing of Lebanon last summer? When do you take time off from your time-off here hunting Islamic terrorists and Anti-Semites, to say a word or two acknowledging an occasional fallibility in the government of a foreign country that gets more US aid and support in the UN than any other?


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

"Can YOU explain the bizarre inability of the US Congress to ever find fault with the government of Israel?"

[Congress, not the White House
Israel, not Saudi Arabia
etc. etc.]

You, Mr. E., provide no fewer than NINE separate posts "in response" to my post with the above key question.

Somewhat to my surprise, despite my low expectations, not a single one of these Nine addresses the question.


There is no mighty secret cabal of Zionists pulling the strings of the power elite in the US

There is no monolithic LOBBY that dictates US policy on the Mideast

There IS a small but very vocal minority of American Jews, with some less coherent adherents of twisted Christianity and other assorted troublemakers and thieves assisting them, who have a blind spot when it comes to Israel. They are so existentially paranoid about it they can hardly think straight at times, but they fight like crazy against anyone who dares criticize the policies of the Israel government, WHATEVER that government may EVER be, say, or do.


Some of these arrogant jerks finally went not just too far, as usual, but way way too far jumping on a foolish chickenhawk fake-conservative bandwagon of a new Pax Americana that was supposed to magically appear once Rummy, Wolfie and the boys bungled into Iraq with no plan, no international support, and absolutely no scruples about the likely damage to America's national security that would
result.

M&W have nailed these arrogant fools.
I wish they had done it more deftly, and accurately. But they did it and all the frantic hot air irrelevancy in the world won't dent their basic message.

QED: The above thread


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Friedman, you are truly pitiful.

I STARTED THIS THREAD with the observation that the US Congress almost never criticizes actions or polices of the government of Israel, probably for reasons not inconsistent with the arguments of Mearsheimer and Walt. NOTHING in your many diversions in the many posts above refutes this. Apart from your inflated and dubious Christian Zionist theory (IT IS NOT "ZIONIST" LUNATIC FRINGE CHRISTIANS WHO VILLIFY AND PUBLICLY HOUND ANY CONGRESSMAN WHO DARES TO QUESTION ISRAELI GOV'T MOVES) you have never even tried to address the point. You and Eckstein can raise as many irrelevant tangents as you want, but after 50 or 60 posts (or whatever we are up to at this point) dodging the issue, I don't suppose you will finally think about it now. It is simply in your blind spot. Israel can do no wrong ever, your blindness would have it, and must always be defended to the utmost by any means necessary no matter what, so there is no discussion to be had about a US legislative branch which also believes that steaming crock of Un-American waste.

Go back to your naked emperor, I will leave here and let you make whatever childish final addition you wish to the mountain of your lame diversions above.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Fibmaster Herr Eckstein is yet again in full swing with his favorite pastimes, telling tall tales and distorting history right and left:

"...as even Mearsheimer and Walt now concede, the Israeli govt was not in favor of an American invasion of Iraq..." Mr Eckstein pretends


Here is what M+W ACTUALLY DID say, in their London article:


"On 16 August 2002, 11 days before Dick Cheney kicked off the campaign for war with a hardline speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Washington Post reported that ‘Israel is urging US officials not to delay a military strike against Iraq’s Saddam Hussein.’ By this point, according to Sharon, strategic co-ordination between Israel and the US had reached ‘unprecedented dimensions’, and Israeli intelligence officials had given Washington a variety of alarming reports about Iraq’s WMD programmes. As one retired Israeli general later put it, ‘Israeli intelligence was a full partner to the picture presented by American and British intelligence regarding Iraq’s non-conventional capabilities.’

Israeli leaders were deeply distressed when Bush decided to seek Security Council authorisation for war, and even more worried when Saddam agreed to let UN inspectors back in. ‘The campaign against Saddam Hussein is a must,’ Shimon Peres told reporters in September 2002. ‘Inspections and inspectors are good for decent people, but dishonest people can overcome easily inspections and inspectors.’

At the same time, Ehud Barak wrote a New York Times op-ed warning that ‘the greatest risk now lies in inaction.’ His predecessor as prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, published a similar piece in the Wall Street Journal, entitled: ‘The Case for Toppling Saddam’. ‘Today nothing less than dismantling his regime will do,’ he declared. ‘I believe I speak for the overwhelming majority of Israelis in supporting a pre-emptive strike against Saddam’s regime.’ Or as Ha’aretz reported in February 2003, ‘the military and political leadership yearns for war in Iraq.’

As Netanyahu suggested, however, the desire for war was not confined to Israel’s leaders. Apart from Kuwait, which Saddam invaded in 1990, Israel was the only country in the world where both politicians and public favoured war. As the journalist Gideon Levy observed at the time, ‘Israel is the only country in the West whose leaders support the war unreservedly and where no alternative opinion is voiced.’ In fact, Israelis were so gung-ho that their allies in America told them to damp down their rhetoric, or it would look as if the war would be fought on Israel’s behalf.

Within the US, the main driving force behind the war was a small band of neo-conservatives, many with ties to Likud. But leaders of the Lobby’s major organisations lent their voices to the campaign. ‘As President Bush attempted to sell the . . . war in Iraq,’ the Forward reported, ‘America’s most important Jewish organisations rallied as one to his defence. In statement after statement community leaders stressed the need to rid the world of Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction.’ The editorial goes on to say that ‘concern for Israel’s safety rightfully factored into the deliberations of the main Jewish groups.’

Although neo-conservatives and other Lobby leaders were eager to invade Iraq, the broader American Jewish community was not. Just after the war started, Samuel Freedman reported that ‘a compilation of nationwide opinion polls by the Pew Research Center shows that Jews are less supportive of the Iraq war than the population at large, 52 per cent to 62 per cent.’ Clearly, it would be wrong to blame the war in Iraq on ‘Jewish influence’. Rather, it was due in large part to the Lobby’s influence, especially that of the neo-conservatives within it."



As I have said more than once on this page, I think the inference that America attacked Iraq because Israel wanted it to is wrong. The lame and unplanned "cakewalk happened mainly for other reasons. Most particularly because the Chickenhawks thought they could have a quick success like Afghanistan if they were lucky and a undefeatable "war presidency" if they were not lucky, and Democrats in Congress moved as fast as their spineless torsos could to throw down a red carpet for this monumental and utterly predictable fiasco.

Nevertheless Israeli hawks and their US dupes WANTED a big American intervention in Iraq and M+W cite the chapter and verse on that for the world to read, the deluge of lies and obfuscations on this page to the contrary notwithstanding.



Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

ECKSTEIN September 11, 2007 at 2:30 PM

"...as even Mearheimer and Walt now concede, the Israeli govt was not in favor of an American invasion of Iraq."


ECKSTEIN September 11, 2007 at 6:15 PM

" 'the inference that America attacked Iraq because Israel wanted it to is wrong.'...Mearsheimer and Walt now admit THEY were wrong to say so.

That's the only point I was saying to Omar."

No, you sloppy fibber. Your own words three and four posts above betray you. What you say now in #113299 is NOT the "point" you were "saying to Omar" up there in #113285 and #113287 but something VERY DIFFERENT.

To Omar you said the Israeli government did not want the invasion.

Now you try to pretend you said that American government did not invade as a result of the Israelis wanting it to.

Why not try telling the truth, for a change? It would save a helluva lot of contradictory posts of fibs here, and maybe you could grade a paper or have time for office hours or something useful.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

You, the twisting, any-tangent-to-avoid- admitting-the-US-Congress-is-intimidated- from-ever-critizing-Israel Friedman will "set the record straight" ???

That is about the most ludicrous thing on this page yet.


Your fixation on Israel having or not having a "stranglehold over US policy"
is a matter of semantic definition and a policy quesation for which reasonable and informed minds may and will reach, and have reached, varying answers It has not at all been my emphasis on this page, so it is lame of you to constantly try to pretend that that is an important point of contention between us. I have said many times that the Likud Lobby or whatever you might want to call it is only one of many factors influencing US Mideast policy. It is, however, an unhealthy and atypical one, in that 1) it goes against the interest of the people of America and and of Israel, and (2) it receives addictive and ritualistic support by motormouth dupes like yourself who are (a) deadly afraid of ever admitting that the Israel government has ever done anything wrong, (b) are obsessed with defending that government with whatever BS can be readily flung NO MATTER what atrocities or idiocies may have provoked the criticism of the Israel regimes that leads to such tireless kneejerk denuncations in response, and (c) will, at the drop of a hat, rush to vilify any Congress person who ever tries to speak honestly about failings in Israeli official policies or actions.

I will say it one more time so that it MIGHT finally penetrate your steel-cased cranium. The problem of this extreme, paranoid, UN-American Lobby and its dupes IS NOT (NOT, N, O, T!) the main driving force of American foreign policy in the Mideast, in my humble opinion and WHATEVER Mssrs M and W say or what you or Eckstein or Simon might lie about their saying, but it IS an unhealthy and shameful reality and it is to the clear benefit of the people of America that M and W are determined to help finally bring it to account.



Re this latest feeble attempt at a smokescreen:

"I do not remember the US Congress saying all that much about Britain in its dealings with the Catholics of N. Ireland?"

No indeed. And why should you remember? You are notorious for not even being able to remember what you yourself said a post or two ago (Eckstein's recent lapse of this type, is much more typical of you than he).

It took me all of 20 seconds to google
"Congressional Resolution" and "North Ireland" and come up with the following:

http://irishaires.blogspot.com/2007/02/british-troops-colluded-with-mad-dog.html

http://www.totalcatholic.com/universe/index.php?news_id=2176&;start=0&category_id=&parent_id=0&arcyear=&arcmonth=

Public Inquiry Called For Into Finucane Case

Posted on February 04, 2007

The US House of Representatives has called on the British
Government to enact a full independent and public inquiry
into the 1989 murder of Catholic lawyer Pat Finucane.

The House made the appeal after the House Committee on
Foreign Affairs voted through a resolution from Republican
congressman Chris Smith.

"It is imperative that the questions surrounding Mr
Finucane's murder are answered in order to restore full
confidence in the rule of law in the north of Ireland,"
said Mr Smith.

"Any agents of the government who may have colluded in the
murder of a defence attorney must be held accountable."

Mr Finucane's son, Martin added: "The recent US
Congressional resolution has solidified opinion on the need
for a proper inquiry.

"It once again reminds the British Government that the
weight of international opinion stands against their
current dishonest and unethical position.

"The added pressure from the United States on this issue is
to be welcomed and it shows that the British Government are
internationally isolated on this matter."

Mr Finucane was shot dead in front of his wife and children
at his home in Belfast.

But allegations that collusion was involved in the murder
have never been satisfactorily answered.

**********************





Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

(1) "I see you've given up the "lapdog Congress that never does anything Israel doesn't want" line."

I never said any such thing. You tried to pretend that I did, in order to
try to obscure my REAL claim which is

(2) that the US Congress is heavily and very unreasonably intimidated from CRITICIZING THE ACTIONS, STATEMENTS, OR POLICIES of the government of Israel, no matter what they might be.

(1) and (2) are two quite different things.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Memory challenged dupes, habitual distorters, and masters of arrogant irrelevance are not to be trusted of course, but apparently M&W backed off ever so slightly from some aspect of their claim that the "Israel Lobby" was the main reason why for Cheney-Bush administration deciding to bungle America into Iraq. That does not mean that M&W have backed off from their indictment of such influence as contrary to American interests, but it may be the best weapon the "herd" has to try to resist possible coming shift in American public opinion resulting from M&W's overdue (if overdone) indictment.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Now, Mr. E. you are trying to pull yet another fast one:

"we have proven on this blog that even W and M no longer believe this to be true [that the invasion of iraq was an israel plot]"

Did they EVER believe THAT?

WHERE have you proved that they no longer believe what they believed before? I saw a lot of assertions, but where is the proof? I am ready to believe that they probably did change their minds (since I think they were incorrect on at least one important detail in at least their Review article, though basically correct most of the time), but not that you have actually proven that they did change views. We need a proper citation. I hope you haven't abandoned the "Academy" for so long as to forget what that means. If it is buried in one of your 30 or so BS filled posts above, kindly extract it and replicate it, or else go googling for it, or shut the H up about "proof."

As for Omar, he and I do not see eye-to-eye on a wide range of issues, but he is generally worth listening to. Some of what I see as his errors or stubborn prejudices are refutable with facts or logic, so I don't agree that one needs to spew distortions and hostile rhetoric across every page he comments on, if that were even justified somehow to begin with.

In any case, I am not all sure that there wasn't some kind of Israeli plot involving an invasion of Iraq. They did bomb it in the early '80s. I suppose their military -despite its recent stupidities in Lebanon, which you were practically ready to commit Hari-Kari rather admit, as I recall last summer- is still on the ball enough to have active scenario-planning and war-games for various sorts of invasions some which probably rise to the advocacy level in Israeli-US communications. I DO think, and have consistently maintained here, that Israel influence was clearly not the decisive factor behind Cheney et al deciding to launch their reckless and disastrous Iraq intervention and hoodwinking, browbeating, and conning most the military, the press, and Congress into going along with this monumental idiocy. That does NOT MEAN that there was no Israel influence, and it sure as all heck does not mean, no matter how much smoke you try to blow, that there was no PREFERENCE IN FAVOR of an invasion on the part of leading Israelis, even non Likud-fanatics. Omar and I can read the REAL PROOF of that in M+W's Review of Books piece.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

For an American citizen to have an loud, unending, fanatical and blind need to always and tenaciously defend a foreign country's government against any criticism whatever, and by using any and all lies and deceptions that can be scrounged up is per se unAmerican.
Get used to it Friedman, or clean up your sorry act, or move to the West Bank.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Thinking of Israel favorably is
not the same as seeing it as a vital friend.

Seeing it as a vital friend is not the same as fighting madly to defend any and all actions of it no matter what the interests of America related to the actions may be.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

My regards to your father. That was one tough battle. I wonder what he would think of this page. Not, I suppose, what he thought he was fighting for.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Almost all American Jews support Israel to some extent. (So do most non-Jewish Americans, including me). Almost none want or need to systematically abuse History as part of that support. THAT, not your lies about what I believe, is my opinion.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Who is talking about "dumping" on the Israelis? Not me. I am talking about permitting the Congress to criticize the actions of the government of Israel once in a while, for example, when it kills a thousand Lebanese while weakening its own defenses.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

"Plenty of people in Congress, while supportive in principle of Israel's behavior, criticized Israel."

Really?

Can you name names?

Or give proof in the form of a reference to when and where the criticism occurred and what statements were actually made?

It would really be nice to know who these needles in the haystack are.

I am not holding my breath. I am also not going to plow through your haystack. I can think of three likely candidates (all happen to have non-mainstream genders and ethnicities). Three out of 535 Congressmen/women and Senators! And those three probably get thousands of hate mail letters, dozens of threats of violence, and scores of editorial broadsides for each critical statement made.

Nice, though, to see you finally decided to obliquely address the question of why Congress treats one foreign country, more than other with kid gloves.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

"Plenty of people in Congress, while supportive in principle of Israel's behavior, criticized Israel."

Really?

Can you name names?

Or give proof in the form of a reference to when and where the criticism occurred and what statements were actually made?

It would really be nice to know who these needles in the haystack are.

I am not holding my breath. I am also not going to plow through your haystack. I can think of three likely candidates (all happen to have non-mainstream genders and ethnicities). Three out of 535 Congressmen/women and Senators! And those three probably get thousands of hate mail letters, dozens of threats of violence, and scores of editorial broadsides for each critical statement made.

Nice, though, to see you finally decided to obliquely address the question of why Congress treats one foreign country, more than other with kid gloves.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

The endless lunacy of the US Congress requires an explanation. There may be better explanations than that outlined by Mearsheimer and Walt, but stonewalling denial is not among them.
Certainly the American "military-industrial complex" benefits from endless cycles of violence and war in the Mideast that are heavily reinforced by American policies dictated by extremist West Bank "settlers," their fellow-travelers, sympathizers and dupes, but the influence of US munition manufacturers cannot explain why nearly the entire Congress from lunatic fringe pacifists to lunatic fringe born-again militarists refuses to ever question anything the government of Israel ever does.


From:

Walt-Mearsheimer's Best Seller: Why the Hysteria? By M.J. Rosenberg

[ http://www.tpmcafe.com/blog/
coffeehouse/2007/
sep/07/walt_mearsheimers_
best_seller_why_the_hysteria ]


"...I spent almost 20 years as a Congressional aide and can testify from repeated personal experience that Senators and House Members are under constant pressure to support status quo policies on Israel. It is no accident that Members of Congress compete over who can place more conditions on aid to the Palestinians, who will be first to denounce the Saudi peace plan, and who will win the right to be the primary sponsor of the next pointless Palestinian-bashing resolution, Nor is it an accident that there is never a serious Congressional debate about policy toward Israel and the Palestinians. Moreover, every President knows that any serious effort to push for an Israeli-Palestinian agreement based on compromise by both sides will produce loud (sometimes hysterical) opposition from the Hill.

Walt and Mearsheimer mostly limit themselves to exploring whether all this is good for the United States (and to a lesser extent, Israel). The question I ask today, and not for the first time, is whether this type of behavior is good for Israel. Forty years after the Six Day War, the occupation continues, the resistance to it intensifies, and Israelis in increasing numbers question whether they have a future in the Jewish state.

Has "pro-Israel" advocacy consistently produced "pro-Israel" ends? At several critical moments, it most certainly has not.

Was it pro-Israel to lobby the Nixon administration in 1971 to support Israel’s rejection of Anwar Sadat's offer of peace in exchange for a three mile pullback from the banks of the Suez Canal? Nixon capitulated to the pressure and backed off, leaving Israel free to reject Sadat's offer. Two years later, Sadat attacked and Israel lost 3000 soldiers in a war that acceptance of the Sadat initiative would have prevented. Israel gained nothing in that war, and ended up giving Sadat all the territory he sought in 1971, and much more.

Was it pro-Israel to urge the Reagan administration to back Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1982? That war, and its bloody aftermath, lasted for 18 years with the last Israeli soldier not leaving Lebanon until 2000 -- after a thousand soldiers were killed. Just days after Israel's invasion, Lebanese Christian forces massacred almost a thousand Palestinians at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camp. And 241 United States Marines, serving as post-war peace keepers, were killed (the most on any single day since Iwo Jima) when Hezbollah blew up their barracks. In the end, the war accomplished nothing and Israel withdrew unconditionally.

Was it pro-Israel to press Congress to attach so many onerous conditions to aid to President Abbas's Palestinian Authority that Abbas was unable to demonstrate to his people that a moderate President, who fully accepted Israel, would produce benefits that they would not achieve by choosing Hamas. The US (and Israeli) policies of all sticks and no carrots led predictably to Abbas's defeat by Hamas and a Hamas-controlled Gaza which has resumed its attacks on Israeli towns.

Was it pro-Israel to prevent the Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II administration's from insisting on a permanent freeze on settlements or, at the very least, the immediate removal of the illegal settlements? Wouldn't Israel be infinitely better off if the United States had used friendly persuasion to end the settlement enterprise right from the get-go? After all, the vast majority of Israelis consider the settlements to be impediments to peace and so has every President since the first settlement was erected.

Similar question could be asked about the arguments favoring the Iraq war as good for both the United States and Israel (when critics correctly predicted that it would be disastrous for both) and should be asked about some future attack on Iran.

These questions are especially urgent with a Presidential election coming up.

Once again, Presidential candidates are being told that in order to earn the "pro-Israel" label, they must heartily endorse the status quo. That means that when asked what they would do about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the candidates must state unequivocal support for Israeli policies. They must put all the onus for the failed diplomacy of recent years on the Palestinians. They must indicate that although they support peace, they will not adopt the kind of pro-active peacemaking engaged in by President Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton. They must never use the words "even-handed or "honest broker." There is a script and candidates must not deviate from it.

For the vast majority of us who care deeply about Israel, the politically correct (and safe) approach to Israel is insulting. Sure, it keeps candidates out of trouble with that small minority of the pro-Israel community which believes that Israel can survive as a Jewish state while holding on to the territories. But that isn't most American Jews, not by a long shot.

Candidates who avoid saying what they believe out of fear of offending lobbyists and activists who have been proven wrong over and over again are not doing Israel any favors. And they should not be rewarded for it by being granted the label of "pro-Israel."

There is nothing pro-Israel about supporting policies that promise only that Israeli mothers will continue to dread their sons' 18th birthdays for another generation. For that we are supposed to be grateful? "


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

The internet is full of irrelevant information, Professor Eckstein. Maybe your students can learn from you how NOT to use it. Friedman and I are talking here about Congresspeople making public criticisms of actions or policies of the Israeli government (now that he has apparently decided to actually address that matter, after many attempts to smokescreen it away).

Iowa State conventions are not the US Congress. Introducing general purpose resolutions against worldwide cluster bombs does not equal making public criticisms of one specific foreign government.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

I did not say it describes anyone here, although a couple of you are getting close on this page. I was rebutting Mr. F's suggestion that I was using "unAmerican" simply to describe someone with a different opinion than mine. No true. This is a severe term with some unseemly historical baggage to it, and not to thrown around carelessly. Before using it, I explained for roughly the 44th time on this page, the extreme situation which we have with the US Congress and those who intimidate its (often easily intimidated) members out of an unrelenting and unalloyed devotion to deflecting any and all criticism of a foreign government. Extreme rhetoric does apply to extreme behavior. In some ways, M&W's is an extreme response to this extremism, and I think goes too far in some of its sub-arguments, but the timing of their opus does not look like a coincidence to me. The situation had become untenable. The American Congress is increasingly an international laughing stock (not just for this reason, of course, but also because of it). It is likely that somewhat fewer Congress people will intimidated than before thanks to M+W and that is likely to help improve an overall US foreign policy that has been disastrous in recent years.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

N., Pardon the mixed metaphor, but you are clutching at straws by trying to dredge up flaws in M&W's argument. No doubt there indeed are a number of such flaws, possibly including some that you mention. In no way, shape, or form however does this sort of often nitpicking criticism amount to an explanation for the extraordinarily one-sided behavior of the US Congress over many decades.

A position that nothing the government of Israel does ever deserves the slightest criticism on Capitol Hill borders on insanity. But most Congress members -as vain, ignorant, corrupt, cowardly, and unscrupulous as many no doubt can be- are not insane. Incessant attempts to smear M&W and make hysterical and ludicrous attacks on their book, do not suggest the existence of a credible alternative explanation to their views on what has Congress so absurdly warped when it comes to the Mideast.

I have NOT read this book (I DID read M&W's long advance article, a year or two ago, and found it generally credible, though flawed or exaggerated in a few places) but it is frankly rather hard to conceive of a solid alternative explanation for the collective absurdity on the part of nearly the whole U.S. Congress when it comes to Israel, Palestine, and the Mideast. And that sort of collective absurdity is not exactly unheard of. Israel is not the only "third rail" issue in US politics. Nor is the Likud lobby the only powerful lobby in the US which wreaks swift vengeance on politicians that try to stand up to it.

Of course, it is certainly true that factors other than this lobby influence the Congress when it comes to Mideast policy. It is also undeniable that the US government exerts influence over Israel (and most other countries), but, again, none of this explains the near total refusal to ever speak out against an Israel
government action or policy. No government in the world deserves such total kid-glove treatment from the US Congress. No conspiracy theories are required to explain this extreme one-sidedness, however. By all indications, there are no mighty secret cabals plotting political annihilation of any Congress person who condemns Social Security or who calls for making ownership of made-for-murder handguns illegal.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

"...the very center of M and W's case is that Israel, via its lobby, pushed the US into the war with Iraq and that has harmed the US."

I very much doubt this, but I have no time to read the book to discover what the "true center" of the case is. No doubt there will be some good book reviews soon.


The Christian angle is not complete bunk, but who ever heard of this lunatic version of Christianity at all (let alone your 19th theologian Bush) 15-20 years ago? Where in the bible does it say render under Caeser what is his, unless he is a Caeser in Jerusalem? I have met my fair share of Jesus freaks over the years, but never heard anyone say they believe anything remotely akin to this bizarre redemptionist/restorationist stuff. 68 million sounds hugely exaggerated, even in a country where "Creation Science" is invading public schools.

It is AN alternative explanation, but not credible as the MAIN explanation.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

The Morris quote is beside the point, e.g. my point -which you jumped in on- that nearly all US Congress members never make any substantive criticism of actions of the Israeli government. No other government in the world gets pandered to in quite this extreme way by the American government. It is a weird situation, but it is not irrelevant to American foreign policy, nor is it an utterly inscrutable timeless mystery that can never be solved, nor does it require exaggerated emphasis on twisted misapplications of religions other than the one represented by Israel.

Re this so-called Christian Zionism: Willing to learn more, even about lunatic fringes, I went to Wikipedia, and there is a fair bit of interesting history about this idea, and it was not as wacko in its origins centuries ago as has become in its more recent incarnation (no irony intended). There are NO numbers on adherents there, probably because, like numbers of people who believe in channeling aliens in UFOs, it is difficult to find credible data. You stand of snowball’s chance in the netherworld of proving your 68 million to any reasonable standard of reliability, though you can give it a try if you are so inclined. More importantly, I seriously doubt you will find more than a small handful of Congressmen have ever made public statements linking Mideast policy with the “Rapture” mumbo jumbo, or even with more “mainstream” Zionist visions. Zionism, as I have sometimes pointed out to a deaf-eared friend of ours on HNN, is largely irrelevant to the situation in the Mideast today. Zionism, the project to establish a Jewish state in Palestine, succeeded six decades ago. The main issue now is whether it will find a way to escape from a cycle of retribution and counter-retribution with neighboring states and peoples.

If there is a good explanation why the US Congress should continuously pretend that zero percent of the responsibility for that vicious cycle lies with any of myriad of decisions and policies of various governments and officials of Israel, I have not heard it from you yet. “Christian Zionism” sounds much more like an excuse than a serious factor. It may play a role in some bible-belt districts, but it is not making headlines in newspaper reports about Congressional resolutions on the Mideast. “Christian Zionists” are surely not the main bankrollers of AIPAC, nor does the “Rapture” figure noticeably on its and related websites. “Christian Zionists” are not prominent in the kneejerk chorus of hysteria that appears whenever a Howard Dean advocates a “balanced” approach by the US in the Mideast.

M&W have probably mucked up some details, but their explanation for the foolish blindless of US policy toward Israel and the Palestinians, and the minefields faced by anyone trying to change that policy, looks solid. It is easy to jump on the kid who says the emperor has no clothes, because he has lots of clothes in his imperial wardrobe at home, or because he has a nervous twitch that sometimes makes him shiver as if he were naked and cold.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Christian Science Monitor says 20 million in the US. This is only 70% lower than your 68 mil.

www.csmonitor.com/2004/0707/p15s01-lire.html

Still a bigger number than that of Christian Scientists, I suppose. But, I still suspect that belief in "premillennial dispensationalism" or variants thereof is a basically an uncountable phenomenon, like belief in the Trinity or transsubstantiation, and that the CSM is repeating somebody else's ballpark average of some other else's speculative guesstimates. In terms of influence on the US Congress "Christian Zionism" looks much more like a tail being wagged by a Likud dog than the other way around. I wonder what M&W have to say about it. The question of what sways the US Congress is, after all, first and foremost a question of political science (not Christian Science) and they are political scientists.


N. Friedman - 9/15/2007

Mr. Wu,

I think you are correct. However, I rather doubt that the Chomsky crowd is representative of more than a small fraction of Jewish opinion. I think, rather, that most Jews just thought the Iraq war would be a disaster and/or thought that war, other than in a fairly clear case of self-defense, is usually wrong such that the Iraq war is wrong.


art eckstein - 9/14/2007

Mr. Wu, add to category 2 prominent (Jewish) political scientists such as Kenneth Waltz, Richard Ned Lebow, and Robert Jervis. All met personally with Condi Rice (who has a Ph.D. in political science) to warn her strongly against the war in Iraq.


Dalek S Wu - 9/14/2007

N. Friedman,

You are correct. The Iraq War is not a "Jewish conspiracy" for the simple reason that Jews (like the US Government and Catholics and just about every other group you care to name) are too diverse and, consequentially, too busy fighting among themselves to get together in "vast conspiracies" like the tin foil brigade would have everyone believe.

For example, many people say "Bolshevism was a Jewish conspiracy," which is preposterous when one realises that there were Jews like Ernst Kantorowicz, Anton Graf Arco-Valley and part-Jews like Hans von Dohnanyi fighting in the ranks of the German Freikorps against the Communists.

Near as I can tell, Jewish views on the Iraq war falls into three categories:

1) those who support it (Wolfowitz, Ledeen, Perle, Krauthammer et al),

2) those who oppose it (not only Naomi Klein, and Finkelstein&Chomsky, but also the Satmar Hassidim and Neuteri Kartei, as well as producer Seymore Butts, and most Hollywood types (eg Michael Douglas, Sarah Jessica Parker)

3) those who have not said much about it either way, such as comedian Andrew Dice Clay.

It is therefore unfair, not to mention historically inaccurate to say that "the Jews started the Iraq War," when Jewish opinion about this war is anything but uniform.


A. M. Eckstein - 9/14/2007

George Shultz, a former U.S. Secy of State, has now written about Walt and Mearsheimer and their book in U.S. News & World Report. He finds the thesis of the book laughable. Not in the funny sense but in the pathetic sense:


"Anyone who thinks that Jewish groups constitute a homogeneous "lobby" ought to spend some time dealing with them. For example, my decision to open a dialogue with Yasser Arafat after he met certain conditions evoked a wide spectrum of responses from the government of Israel, its political parties, and American Jewish groups who weighed in on one side or the other. Other examples in which the United States rejected Israel's view of an issue, or the view of the American Jewish community, include the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia and President Reagan's decision to go to the cemetery at Bitburg, Germany.
The United States supports Israel not because of favoritism based on political pressure or influence but because the American people, and their leaders, say that supporting Israel is politically sound and morally just."


A. M. Eckstein - 9/14/2007

From the official University of Montana website, inviting Walt to the campus:

"The article appeared in March 2006 in the London Review of Books to intense controversy.
The excitement over the article stemmed both from what Mearsheimer and Walt wrote about the Israel lobby and from what they were perceived to be saying about an always-touchy issue: the power and influence of Jews. They indicted the lobby for manipulating America’s Middle East policy in ways that jeopardize the international standing and physical safety of the United States. In particular, they pressed hard on the most sensitive issue in American politics, the war in Iraq. Just as most Americans were coming to view the war as a terrible mistake, Mearsheimer and Walt declared, “There is little doubt that Israel and the [l]obby were key factors in the decision to go to war. It’s a decision the [United States] would have been far less likely to take without their efforts."

We now know that this reconstruction of events is UNTRUE, that the Israeli govt did NOT press for Iraq and opposed the invasion but in the end went along as a dutiful ally. Even Walt and Mearsheimer admit they made a gross mistake here. (The only person around here still holding to this original position of M & W, and not even including M & W themselves, is that person impermeable to facts--Omar.)


N. Friedman - 9/14/2007

Mr. Wu,

I recall the opinion polls at the time. The vast majority of Jews opposed the Iraq War, from the beginning. In fact, they were likely the most opposed group.


N. Friedman - 9/13/2007

Peter,

I think that while, as you say, we were referring to people in Congress, the good Professor Eckstein is correct, given his explanation of the context. And, his other post is directly on point.

But, as I noted, there are two men running to be President of of wonderful country who are decidedly not close friends of Israel. And, a third is often critical although he is, clearly, not unfriendly to Israel.

In any event, the point is that Israel is criticized. While the volume is not all that loud, as it is, by contrast, in Europe, it exists. Consider that in Europe, governments have the need to appease Arab oil interests and the Antisemitic element that is, by American standards, outspoken and large. In the US, Israel is treated more respectfully, as a vital friend should be.


A. M. Eckstein - 9/13/2007

1. I have provided much evidence of Congress acting against Israeli interests, Israeli policy, and direct Israeli protests. These facts have made no impact upon "Peter". His ideology is impervious to them. His response to uncomfortable and disconfirming facts is the same as Omar's--personal abuse heaped on those who provide him with uncomfortable information.

2. I've also now provided examples of individual senators making criticisms of Israeli policy directly (Feinstein; Leahy). These facts will no doubt have no impact upon "Peter". His ideology is impervious to them. His response to uncomfortable and disconfirming facts is the same as Omar's--personal abuse heaped on those who provide him with uncomfortable
information.

3. Now "Peter" has even been spanked in public for such conduct by the HNN Webmaster. But wait...Jonathan Dresner. Doesn't that guy have a JEWISH-sounding name? Put on your tin-foil hats, Peter and Omar!

4. Speaking of which: The claim of "Peter" now is that he didn't mean to call anyone HERE "Un-American" yesterday, I've seen sudden retreat and desperate cya before but this is a particularly good example. People may remember the immortal contrast "Peter" drew last summer between "real Americans" and "Likudnick rapers of history" (i.e., me, Friedman, Green, Simon). I doubt that he's changed his mind. But, caught in public and not for the first time, he's backing off from his indefensible racism.


art eckstein - 9/13/2007

"Peter", or whatever your name is, the Iowa state convention of the Democratic Party is attended by national Democratic officials (including all of Iowa's Demcratic Congresspeople as well as Sen. Tom Harkin), but yes, let's leave it aside if you wish. It was just the first thing I came across in a minute regarding criticism of Israel.

You don't respond to the second posting I posted on this subject, requoted below, that shows that another few minutes of surfing the net demonstrates that your accusation that no Congresspeople make public criticisms of the actions of Israel is simply and directly (SUPRISE!) factually wrong:

Another few minutes on the net produced, as I said, the following:

" Sep 09, 2006
WASHINGTON — Reflecting growing discontent in Washington with Israel’s use of American-made cluster bombs in heavily populated areas of Lebanon, two leading Democratic senators this week introduced legislation that would require recipients of such munitions not to use them in or near civilian centers.

Senators Dianne Feinstein of California and Patrick Leahy of Vermont this week introduced the Cluster Munitions Amendment."

Better put on your tinfoil hat, Peter--maybe this is simply disinformation put out by those sly Jews.


Dalek S Wu - 9/13/2007

One thing that seems to be completely lost in the Mearsheimer versus the Neocons debate is the mention of Mearsheimer's background. He is not just another PhD giving an opinion. He is a "mustang," an officer (a West Point graduate, in fact) who had previously served as an enlisted man, much like USN Captain Dick Marcinko and the late US Army Colonel David H. Hackworth (the latter substantially agreeing with Mearsheimer on the Iraq War.)

In contrast, Krauthammer, Feith, Wolfowitz, Perle, Ledeen et al are notorious draft-dodgers who never served a day in uniform. Krauthammer, in fact, was photographed standing upright and fit for duty at the ultra-left "McGill Daily" student newspaper (for which he wrote) in the late 1960's, at a time when Canadians named Dextraze, Kroisenbacher, Blanchette, Schmidt, and Bastarache were getting killed while serving in the US military in Vietnam (see Fred Gaffen's books "Unknown Warriors" and "Cross-Border Wariors."

When it comes down to it, I will take the word of a prior enlisted West Point trained OFFICER over the word of draft-dodgers, even if the latter have more degrees than a thermometer.

That being said, there is something else that must be said, but which rarely is, in this debate. Although it can be argued that there is an "Israeli lobby," not all Jews are of one mind when it comes to the Middle East in general, or Iraq in particular. We all know where Perle, Wolfowitz, Ledeen et al stand. However, some Jews also oppose the Iraq war, including the movie producer Seymore Butts of "Family Business" fame. Some Jews, like the fundamentalist Luke Ford, have said relatively little in public about Iraq.


A. M. Eckstein - 9/12/2007

Another couple of minutes on the net produces:

. Sep 09, 2006
WASHINGTON — Reflecting growing discontent in Washington with Israel’s use of American-made cluster bombs in heavily populated areas of Lebanon, two leading Democratic senators this week introduced legislation that would require recipients of such munitions not to use them in or near civilian centers.

Senators Dianne Feinstein of California and Patrick Leahy of Vermont this week introduced the Cluster Munitions Amendment.

Better put on your tinfoil hat, Peter--maybe this is simply disinformation put out by those sly Jews.


A. M. Eckstein - 9/12/2007

Two SECONDS on the Internet produces, from Arab-American James Jogby:

"For two decades, Iowa's Democrats have overwhelmingly passed resolutions at their state conventions supporting a more balanced and compassionate US policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."


N. Friedman - 9/12/2007

Peter,

Yes, I can name names. Start with, on the Republican side, Ron Paul. On the Democratic side, start with Dennis Kucinich. Both want to be president, by the way, so they had a platform for their views. Then there was Congressman Issa. Senator Biden, another candidate for president, was also somewhat critical, as a good friend should be. And, numerous others were mildly critical as well. I can check and give you a whole list but I think I have made my point.




N. Friedman - 9/12/2007

Peter,

There was lots of criticism - and along the very lines you now assert. Open up the papers. There was, of course, no resolution by Congress - and, as I see it, there was no reason for such a resolution -, but plenty of people in Congress, while supportive in principle of Israel's behavior, criticized Israel. I believe at least several such persons are running for president.

I might add that some rather harsh, but fair minded, critics of Israel's behavior, like the famed Michael Walzer of Princeton, were supportive in principle of what Israel did. It was, as he wrote, morally justified and in line with what countries should do in such circumstances - all in accordance with just war theory, for which Walzer is famous.

Whether or not that war advanced Israel's strategic interests remains to be seen. If Hezbollah is more restrained in the future, then Israel's position was improved. If not, then not. We shall see. So far, Hezbollah is being pretty restrained.

So far as US interests are concerned, the nearby Arab states (excluding Syria) and the US all tended to support Israel's position against Hezbollah. They all see Iran as a threat and Hezbollah as a rogue army serving Iranian objectives.

In fact, there is an argument, as made by Bernard Lewis, that such array of interests make more peaceful relations among them - and actual peace on Lewis' telling - more likely, since there appears to be a common interest and thus a need, as these countries see it, to counter Iran's influence in the region. So, I do not agree with you although I think that Lewis is too optimistic about what is a short term benefit.


N. Friedman - 9/12/2007

Peter,

Has it occurred to you that we differ about the US interests involved and how best to promote them?

I have also told you repeatedly that I think you have it all backwards. I think that no matter what Israel does, there is no peace to be had with Palestinian Arabs. The time is not ripe and it will not likely be ripe for another hundred years, if ever.

So, I do not think the US should waste time building up expectations about dispute resolutions that have no chance of bearing fruit. And, dwelling on Israel's sins, when the region includes regimes that are, by Israel's standards, truly barbaric - to be kind - is hypocrisy that undermines US interests.

With my premise, dumping on the Israelis is nuts. It confuses US interest for the interests of Arabs in the Middle East. And, Arabs in the Middle East have demonstrably and dramatically different aims than does the US. In the scheme of things, a secure Israel helps the US advance US interests in the region. A weak Israel hurts US interests.


Jonathan Dresner - 9/12/2007

Mr. Clarke,

Apparently your email address in your HNN account no longer functions, so I have to do this publicly.

Tone it down, especially the personal attacks, or your account and posting privileges will be revoked.

http://hnn.us/articles/1885.html

Jonathan Dresner
HNN Assistant Editor


A. M. Eckstein - 9/12/2007

Clarke writes: '"For an American citizen to have an loud, unending, fanatical and blind need to always and tenaciously defend a foreign country's government against any criticism whatever, and by using any and all lies and deceptions that can be scrounged up is per se unAmerican"

I don't think this describes either Friedman or me, nor even E. Simon nor Mr. Greene nor anyone else who posts regularly on this blog. It's an anti-semitic strawman.

Welcome to Omar's cave, Peter Clarke. Don't forget to join him in putting on your tinfoil hat.


A. M. Eckstein - 9/12/2007

N.F., perhaps you will remember last summer, and Clarke's immortal contrast between "real Americans" and "Likudnick rapers of history" (i.e., American Jews who happen support Israel).

What he writes here comes from the gut, and it's the same old Peter. Facts? No. Racism? You bet. Sorry I'm not a "real American" by your standards, Peter. My father fought on Iwo Jima


N. Friedman - 9/12/2007

Thinking of Tinfoil Hats. According to Peter at #113317:

I will say it one more time so that it MIGHT finally penetrate your steel-cased cranium. The problem of this extreme, paranoid, UN-American Lobby and its dupes IS NOT (NOT, N, O, T!) the main driving force of American foreign policy in the Mideast, in my humble opinion and WHATEVER Mssrs M and W say or what you or Eckstein or Simon might lie about their saying, but it IS an unhealthy and shameful reality and it is to the clear benefit of the people of America that M and W are determined to help finally bring it to account.

This is shameless stuff. We are not, on Peter's telling, merely wrong. Rather, we are liars and dupes and those who might lobby for Israel are "UN-American," on Peter's peculiar position, contrary to the vast majority of Americans, who see Israel as a vital friend:

US poll: Israel alone named 'vital friend'

Gallup poll places Israel as only country majority of Americans both view favorably and see as important. Iraq most unfavorable but most important while only 9 percent view Iran as favorable


Peter has really stooped - or is that shtupped himself - into the gutter.


E. Simon - 9/12/2007

If Rectum Maximum Clarke wishes to accuse me of actually lying, rather than state what I hypothetically "might lie" about, then he should take his balls out of his rear end and do so in clear language. This might also require him to remove whatever other impediments are blocking a clear passageway to his mouth, as well. And it might require him to admit that he hates a crucial, longstanding aspect of American identity that his democratically-governed countrymen simply don't share. The clear thinking that generally dissuades them from a need for vitriol, scapegoating, nativism, foul language and the divisive hatred typical of the emotional diatribes that his posts predictably devolve into are all things we've known for quite some time that he does not share with them. And as far as appealing to a sense of decency goes, when has this ever been anything other than a lost cause when it comes to dialogue with "Peter"?


A. M. Eckstein - 9/12/2007

N.F., perhaps you will remember last summer, and Clarke's immortal contrast between "real Americans" and "Likudnick rapers of history" (i.e., American Jews who happen support Israel).

What he writes here comes from the gut, and it's the same old Peter. Facts? No. Racism? You bet. Sorry I'm not a "real American" by your standards, Peter. My father fought on Iwo Jima.


N. Friedman - 9/12/2007

Peter,

Whatever M & W believe deep down, they have publicly admitted facts contradict their position.

Now, I think the more interesting question is what informs your views. According to you, and I quote: "The problem of this extreme, paranoid, UN-American Lobby and its dupes ..."

In other words, on your telling those who support Israel are either "un-American" or "dupes." Such is an amazing comment.

Here is a suggestion, Peter - or is your name really Joseph? -, those who disagree with you are not "un-American" or "dupes." Such people merely disagree with you. As I see the matter, You've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir?


N. Friedman - 9/12/2007

Correction:

The following sentence from the above post has a broken link: I might add: criticism of Britain is extraordinarily rare.

The correct reference is here, if things post correctly this time.


N. Friedman - 9/12/2007

Peter,

"Un-American." You sound like Senator McCarthy in the 1950's. So, it is "un-American" to support Israel? That would come as a surprise to the vast, vast majority of Americans who, in fact, do support Israel. And, it is certainly a fascinating revelation about you and your brand of politics. As was said back in those dark days, "Have you no decency?"

Thank you for your information regarding Northern Ireland and Britain. I was not aware of it.

Subject to a better explanation from you, I see that the US House supported a resolution in about 2006 or 2007 regarding a murder that occurred way back in 1989. Britain is not, at present, facing terror from the IRA, as it was years back. In other words, your example is not much of an example.

I might add: criticism of Britain is extraordinarily rare.

I might add: the most likely reason for such criticism would be strong lobbying pressure in the US by Irish Americans of Catholic background, a huge interest group - tens of millions of such people, quite a number of them passionate, as is their right, about Ireland, in my experience.

Note, by the way, the source of information you provided - totalcatholic.com, which according to the website "Totalcatholic.com and The Catholic Travel Directory is operated by Gabriel Communications Ltd, the UK and Ireland's leading publisher of Catholic newspapers, magazines and directories."

The other source you provided is a blog called Irish Aires News. That website, belonging evidently to an American,is dedicated to "News about the Irish & Irish American culture, music, news, sports." The blogger, one Jay Dooling, provides the following information about his interests:

* Ireland * Irish News * Irish Music * Irish language * Irish culture * Good Friday Agreement * KPFT-FM * Pacifica

In other words, this is news from an American who has interests in the events in another country. In fact, such is likely his main interest, to judge from what he writes. By your strange standards, he is "un-American." By my standards, he is a normal citizen who is pushing his perceived understanding of the general welfare.

There are, of course, lobbies that advance the views of Irish Americans and have tried to influence US policy toward Ireland - not often successful, evidently. By your bizarre calculation, those who lobby for the US to take a particular view about Northern Ireland must be "Un-American" since, obviously, they have the interest of some other country in mind and, to add, anything that upsets the US relationship with Britain is problematic.

Now, I think your view of what is an is not "American" comes from deep-seated prejudices, not clear-headed thinking. It is, on my telling, anti-Constitutional to oppose the right of Americans to advance their notions about what is the general welfare. And, supporting democratic Israel, a country under attack by people who do not seek to settle any disputes - not now and not likely in our life times -, is certainly a cause that attracts a great many Americans.

Now, I gather your view that the "American" position would be to support Arab and oil interests on the theory that such is the American interest. Again, as stated by the writer in The New York Times:

The general tone of hostility to Israel grates on the nerves, however, along with an unignorable impression that hardheaded political realism can be subject to its own peculiar fantasies. Israel is not simply one country among many, for example, just as Britain is not. Americans feel strong ties of history, religion, culture and, yes, sentiment, that the authors recognize, but only in an airy, abstract way.

They also seem to feel that, with Israel and its lobby pushed to the side, the desert will bloom with flowers. A peace deal with Syria would surely follow, with a resultant end to hostile activity by Hezbollah and Hamas. Next would come a Palestinian state, depriving Al Qaeda of its principal recruiting tool. (The authors wave away the idea that Islamic terrorism thrives for other reasons.) Well, yes, Iran does seem to be a problem, but the authors argue that no one should be particularly bothered by an Iran with nuclear weapons. And on and on.


Evidently, you want to share in the fantasy that fails to appreciate that Omar's voice is that of the vast majority and wants no real peace with Israel - even if, as Professor LeVine divines, they do not hate us. And, you share their fantasy that the views of most Americans arise from lobbying efforts, not out of American history and values. I think it is you, not I, who is out of touch.


art eckstein - 9/12/2007

1. Peter, if you want to see Omar's mind at work, a mind simply incapable of absorbing unwelcome facts, just look at his performance on the "Was 'Warriors of God' Fair?" thread. Absolutely hilarious. I recommend it to everyone.

2. The Israelis went along with U.S. plans to invade Iraq, which the Israelis initially opposed. They thought the U.S. should reserve its strength for the bigger threat posed by Iran. In going along with Iraq, they were merely being a dutiful ally. That is what even M and W now believe. You say you believe that, too... but then you say..."In any case, I am not all sure that there wasn't some kind of Israeli plot involving an invasion of Iraq"! You ought to try not directly contradicting yourself so quickly. It makes you look silly.

3. I see you do not even attempt to answer my facts presented at 8:17 a.m. Indeed, you never have attempted to answer ANY of my facts on how your alleged "lapdog" Congress ignores Israeli interests.

4. I think you and Omar better pick up your tin-foil hats to protect you from that secret Israeli influence over things.


N. Friedman - 9/12/2007

Peter,

M & W's argument is that the lobby effectively has a stranglehold over US policy. That is either true or it is not true. Clearly, on the, by far, most important policy decision thus far made by Bush, that proved not to be true.

That factual discrepancy is not a minor problem. It contradicts the theory, as it show that the Israel's friends do not have a stranglehold over US policy. They merely have influence, along with many other groups, the most notable ones being oil interests and Saudi interests (which are not quite identical with oil interests), not to mention the President's Wilsonian notions about spreading democracy - a form of interest in itself.

Perhaps, oil interests wanted the invasion in order to create a situation that would substantially boost oil prices and, as a result, profits. Oil company profits have skyrocketed, after all. That has even helped the Saudis by infusing the Saudi and other oil producing states with cash, reversing, potentially, the dramatic decline in living standards among Arabs in the oil producing states.

Rather than passing things off to M & W backing off a bit from their case, they continue with their full argument as if such facts did not exist. But, again: if the very most important decision was made and then presented to the Israelis - which the evidence shows to be the case -, with the Israelis suggesting that such was not Israel's policy objective, how can M & W's position - the one they still argue - be correct? That is a question Peter that requires an answer.

As for it really being against the interest of the US to be supportive of Israel, that is a pseudo-claim. As Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen writes:

But so, in a way, is Britain. Who needs that soggy isle, scepter'd or not? In a fight, it would be of little consequence. In 2006, Britain spent about $60 billion on its military. The United States spent $529 billion. You could argue, therefore, that Britain is a strategic burden -- and some made precisely that argument in the run-up to World War II.

Now, you go on to call those who point out the obvious, namely, that M & W's case comes to naught if Israel's lobby was not the push for Iraq that led to the invasion, the "herd." What sort of talk is that from a supposedly educated person? I can understand a bigot talking that way. But you?


art eckstein - 9/12/2007

113159)
by Peter K. Clarke on September 9, 2007 at 1:45 PM. Peter, in that posting you wrote about: "The inability of the Congress to ever find fault with any Israeli policy."

Peter--But in fact by formally approving the selling of AWACS to Saudi Arabia despite official protests from the israeli govt, by formally approving the selling F-15E's to Saudi Arabia against fierce Israeli objections, by approving the selling of $34 BILLION worth of arms to Israeli's enemies in jsut seven years despite official protests of the Israeli govt, by remaining silent when Presidents Reagan, Bush and Bush II have all criticized specific Israeli policies and actions--in all these ways Congress has demonstrated "THE ABILITY to find fault with Israeli policy."

Now, actual formal condemnations of the policies of allies in a direct way in a NARROW sense are extraordinarily rare in Congress. The Congress has never found fault with BRITISH policies, though there have been several controversial ones (such as the Falklands War). Congress never even formally condemned either FRANCE or GERMANY over their ferocious and direct opposition to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and their direct attempt to block the U.S. in the U.N., and this despite massive popular antagonism to France and Iraq among the American public over this behavior (a popular antagonism which doesn't exist against Israel in the U.S.). So if this is your NARROW point, it is meaningless.

But Congress approving the GOING AGAINST and tjhe DISREGARDING OF OFFICIAL PROTESTS of ALLIES, and hence indirectly finding fault with the policies of allies? If this is your broader point, then this happens all the time, including to Israel.

2. As for Omar, he still believes that the invasion of iraq was an israel plot (and, more broadly, a Jewish plot). He said it above on this thread. We all know that this isn't true, and we have proven on this blog that even W and M no longer believe this to be true, and have said it isn't true. But Omar's habitual response to specific facts that go against his violently-distorted worldview is to personally attack the purveyor of those facts, i.e., Omar's habitual response to information that makes him uncomfortable is simply vicious personal attack, empty of substance. No need to listen to HIM.


art eckstein - 9/11/2007

"M & W conceded on ON POINT Radio show that Israel was not the driving force for attacking Iraq."

Peter, I may not have expressed myself well abive but this was exactly my point--Israel was not the driving force for attacking Iraq. Omar, for ideological reasons and out of his sheer hatred and ignorance, still thinks it was the driving force behind attacking Iraq. My point to him was that not even M & W believe this anymore. Neither do you.

Peter, I see you've given up the "lapdog Congress that never does anything Israel doesn't want" line.

Good--because you were totally wrong.


N. Friedman - 9/11/2007

Peter,

You are taking liberty with what Professor Eckstein stated. You have the words correct but the context incorrect.

Understood in context, Professor Eckstein is correct: Israel did not favor invading Iraq. Israel's concern was Iran. However, Israel supported its ally in public, as a good ally does, and in the hope that Israel's concerns would in due course be addressed.

We can hope that Israel, in private, told Bush that he was out of his f--ing mind. For that, we shall have to wait for the archives to be opened, many, many years from now.



N. Friedman - 9/11/2007

Peter,

Let me set the record straight.

M & W conceded on ON POINT Radio show that Israel was not the driving force for attacking Iraq.

That one fact - as it the Iraq war is the most important strategic act of the US in the Middle East in many, many years - shows that M & W are simply wrong in what they claim, which is that a supposed lobby has a stranglehold over US policy. Were M & W's proposition true, the US would have dealt with Iran 6 years ago, as they advocated.

Which is to say, M & W are promoting a great big lie, likely in order to advance an agenda to help them sell books, most likely in Europe and to academics inclined to be influenced by anything anti-Israel.


One thing you did harp on was that Congress is not critical of Israel, a concern that strikes me as bizarre. I do not remember the US Congress saying all that much about Britain in its dealings with the Catholics of N. Ireland? I do not remember the US Congress saying much of anything against any other allies. Why would one ally choose to badmouth another ally?

And, as Professor Eckstein showed beyond all doubt, Israel's influence, through lobbying, did not extend to preventing Congress from doing all sorts of things designed to help Israel's enemies and about which Israel loudly, but unsuccessfully, objected.


art eckstein - 9/11/2007

Clarke writes: "As I have said more than once on this page, I think the inference that America attacked Iraq because Israel wanted it to is wrong."

Yes, and others have remarked, Mearsheimer and Walt now admit THEY were wrong to say so.

That's the only pointl I was saying to Omar.


A. M. Eckstein - 9/11/2007

That is, as Levine says, and as even Mearheimer and Walt now concede, the Israeli govt was not in favor of an American invasion of Iraq.

Only Omar, with his usual imperviousness to evidence, believes this, as we see in the quote I quoted at the end of my posting just above.


A. M. Eckstein - 9/11/2007

One major point of LeVine, and even Mearsheimer and Walt now concede they were WRONG about, was that Israel wanted an invasion of Iraq. The Israelis did not--as even M and W now concede.

What a surprise it is, then, that Omar doesn't understand what he's reading. Again. Hence: "To Israel... Afghanistan posed no threat to Israel's coveted role of regional super power; Iraq DID!"

Wrong--again--Omar.


E. Simon - 9/11/2007

Clarke is a funny man, as always. Here he cries about not being able to force others to believe what he wants (either them or himself) to believe, despite a plethora of evidence to the contrary. So he, again, changes the subject into a wailing accusation that others believe that Israel can do no wrong. This coming, again, from a man(?) who evidently has such a difficult time accepting that he can ever be wrong, all the evidence above to that effect apparently notwithstanding. The qualifiers attesting to M&W's "sloppiness" are touching to the intellect, but his visceral need to ultimately see them having pulled off a "gotcha" moment against the supposedly alleged omniscience of whatever pro-Israel sentiment is NOT the primary topic of the discussion - is just as baseless as always. And adding to that, witness how the ad hominems and childish "naming" devices are out in full force, as ever.


N. Friedman - 9/11/2007

Professor,

I agree. I do not claim otherwise.


N. Friedman - 9/11/2007

Peter,

Art Eckstein included numerous instances of the US Congress and the US administration not only disagreeing with Israel but, in fact, acting against the views of Israel's friends, not to mention Israel's own perceived self-interest. If that does not contradict your point, nothing does. Or, is this another case where you take views that are so nebulous in character that they are not subject to refutation?

Starting a thread, by the way, does not define it. You have made numerous other assertions along the way and no longer even use the same header. So, your point is? Oh, I get it. You think this is your sandbox so that you get to decide what is and is not part of what you said, NOT.

In fact, I noted two reasons for thinking M & W to be full of beans and that explain the largely pro-Israeli view of Congress and US Administrations: 1. the historical association of American religious views and Zionism - a fact of profound significance since such views came to be the views of vast numbers of Americans, including numerous American presidents. See, Michael Oren, Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East: 1776 to the Present, a first rate book that received first rate reviews. Your buddy Niall Ferguson endorsed the book, by the way. [See note at the end of this post]. Also see my discussion of modern day Christians Zionists. In short, there are good historical reasons for Congressional and national support that are homegrown but which escape entirely the "scholarship" of M & W, not to mention you.

2. I noted the fact - and it is a fact - that Israel and its friends could not possibly be the driving force in US Middle East policy since, in fact, the US chose to invade Iraq notwithstanding Israel's concerns about Iran - something that M & W now have to admit going forward but which makes their theory contrary to fact. In other words, Israel went along with US policy, not the other way around so, clearly, it is not the "Israel Lobby" that took us to war or that drives US policy but, rather, a host of things, as others here have observed.


Now, frankly, you are full of it by making believe that your views have not been addressed. They have and you are refuted.

[Note on Michael Oren, Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East: 1776 to the Present, from you buddy Niall Ferguson. He writes:

If you think America’s entanglement in the Middle East began with Roosevelt and Truman, Michael Oren’s deeply researched and brilliantly written history will be a revelation to you, as it was to me. With its cast of fascinating characters - earnest missionaries, maverick converts, wide-eyed tourists and even a nineteenth-century George Bush - Power, Faith and Fantasy is not only a terrific read, it is also proof that you don’t really understand an issue until you know its history.

Live and learn, Peter.]


A. M. Eckstein - 9/11/2007

The U.S. Congress has approved MANY measures--I've listed them, I'm sorry you found the list irritating--that were directly contrary to Israeli interests as Israel and its friends perceive them. This includes $34 BILLION of ultra-modern arms in just 7 years (1993-2000) to Arab states that are sworn enemies of Israel's existence. U.S. interests rule. The dog wags the tail.


E. Simon - 9/11/2007

The way you punctuate and structure your long-winded, conspiratorial writing makes your ideas almost as difficult for others to understand as they are, perhaps, for even yourself to make any sense of. But it's a style that isn't unfamiliar to history. And not always (or even usually) in a good way.


E. Simon - 9/11/2007

Anytime. It's been a while since I've checked back, and while I don't have the time or specific credentials to investigate or argue every claim, I try to remain well-read and broad-minded and don't have a problem chiming in every now and then when bogus, platitudinous and perhaps even dangerous lines of thought are declared without even the regard for whatever argumentation one would assume should accompany their provision.

I was worried at first that reminding everyone of this would undercut the arguments deflating the myth that Israel's tail wags the American dog, but I think those arguments have been sufficiently explored above - at least for the time being. But it's hard to believe that Americans who are antipathetic to or harbor related feelings to Israel would be able to make constructive use of an argument that reminds us of how crucial the country was (and is?) to forging the American identity. In any event, it's a good, rich history that most Americans can't ignore or eschew without being a bit ignorant or self-hating of their own perceived identity. And yes, as someone pointed out on an Amazon.com thread related to the MW book, the Israel lobby is one of the few whose foundations enjoy such widespread support among Americans. Those who bash "the lobby" and tell horror stories of intimidated senators invent a curious bugbear for whom an aversion to democracy itself is the real problem. It's about as intellectually inconsistent as one can get.


N. Friedman - 9/11/2007

Peter,

Note that the claims you previously made have all been shown to be nonsense and you do not even bother to deny it. As Professor Eckstein shows with his evidence, Congress - and remember, that is what you were talking about above such that now you are trying to pull a fast one in order to rescue yourself from your error (or, to be more exact, bias) -, while supportive of Israel, also supports programs that Israel vociferously opposes. That contradicts your assertion. It shows it to be nonsense. That is something that is a fact!!!

And, the government is supportive of Israel but not always. And, in the case of Iraq - the motivating issue for M & W, as they have stated -, M & W now have admitted facts which show their claims to be an impossibility, in this case showing that the assertion by Professor LeVine that, contrary to M & W's claim, the dog actually does wag its tail is correct.

Again: It was the US, not Israel and its friends, that pushed us toward Iraq. Israel was, as M & W admit, interested in Iran. Notwithstanding, the US went after Iraq. Hence, the claim that Israel and its friends control US policy cannot possibly be correct, as a matter of simple logic.

Having been shown to be wrong, you now change the subject, claiming now that Israel has supporters - as if that was not well documented by other, including Israel's friends. So, as I see it, your complaint is that Israel has supporters and that some of them are vociferous - as if that were a great wrong.



art eckstein - 9/11/2007

The issue isn't the existence of fierce friends of Israel. They exist, Its the question of theeir influence or even control over U.S. foreign policy.

You are destroyed on that one, Peter, via the specific cases I presented.

And here's two MORE examples:

1. In 2001 the U.S. govt successfully put fierce pressure on the Israeli govt to back out of a hugely profitable arms deal with China "in the interests of world peace." Translation: in the interests of U.S. security in the Far East. The Israeli govt obeyed, though the Israeli arms industry was damaged by the action.

a. How come M and W's ZOG didn't prevent this from happening? It damaged Israeli strategic interests and the Israeli economy.
b. Maybe Israeli actions such as this one store up real good will in the US govt and Congress.

2. In 2002, the very next year, the U.S. govt successfully put fierce pressure on the Israeli govt to back out of another hugely profitable arms deal, this time with India, again "in the interests of world peace." Given tensions between India and Pakistan, the US Govt had a case. But in any case, the Israeli govt obeyed, though the Israeli arms industry was again damaged by this action.

a. How come M and W's ZOG didn't prevent this from happening? It damages Iraeli strategic interests and the Israeli economy.
b. Maybe Israeli actions like this store up real good will in the US Govt and Congress.


Mark A. LeVine (UC Irvine History Professor) - 9/11/2007

thanks to all who posted comments. all appreciated even if i don't agree with some of them. let me just clarify something which i should have put in the original posting. i am not trying to say that bc the so-called military-industrial complex, or what nitzan and bichler variously refer to as the coalition bt the major arms and oil comapnies is all that matters, and that aipac's pressure on congress isn't important or based on the lobby's so-called 'support' for israel--by the way, i agree completely that the one thing aipac has never done is genuinely help support israel's security. in fact it's policies have been disastrous for the cause of peace and security for israel, never mind palestine.

what i was arguing was that in the end this pressure would not work were it not for the much greater power of the arms and oil industries and their disproportionate power over policy-making in the US. this power matches what nitzan and bichler term the 'differential rate of profits' that accrue to them compared with their relative size in the overall US economy.


art eckstein - 9/11/2007

Thanks, N.F.

To cut off an all too expected rejoinder from Peter: I'm NOT saying that Israel and its many friends don't have significant and sometimes very significant influence in Congress. THEY DO, for a whole variety of reasons. But they are also only one part of a much broader and very complex political picture involving the political interaction of MANY interests SIMULTANEOUSLY, and others interests (very often the American oil and arms companies, and sometimes even the Saudis) obviously have MORE influence and impact. Despite Mearsheimer and Walt, it simply ain't ZOG.

It's the dog that wags the tail.


N. Friedman - 9/10/2007

Professor Eckstein,

As always, you have taken down another idol. No, Israel does not control the US. No, Israel's friends in the US do not control Congress or the President.

Those who claim otherwise are ignorant or bigots. Sometimes, they are both. Sometimes, they just like pushing buttons to get a reaction.

In the case of M & W, they should know better. But, they persist, peddling garbage, contradicting themselves in public (as in the example I posted), asserting the illogical (e.g. that the tail wags the dog) without evidentiary support from real sources, etc., etc. We are lucky that you are hear to sound out idols.


N. Friedman - 9/10/2007

Mr. Simon,

Michael Oren's book is a wonderful book. It is a shame that you know who with a P in his name does not have sufficient interest to read before he spouts nonsense. While I mentioned Oren in one of my above posts, thank you for the confirmation of what I stated and the additional information that I did not add. As always, your posts are welcome.


E. Simon - 9/10/2007

Although the numbers of those comprising sects that view themselves as "Christian Zionists" may be up for debate as far as discrete divisions go, the cultural resonance of such beliefs, and their self-identification with them in seeing the founding of America as reminiscent of and inspired by the political movements of the ancient Israelites, cannot be understated. These ideas had a huge degree of cultural and political resonance from before the founding. I believe Michael Oren's new book, Power, Faith and Fantasy, outlines the development of this naturally strong reservoir of pro-Israel sentiment in the American populace quite well, in a clear, accessible and well-documented format. It is a sham for some to otherwise suggest that Jewish/Israeli lobbies are manipulating American public opinion in a direction in which Americans large and small have overwhelmingly been favorably disposed for quite some time. See Mark Twain and Benjamin Franklin for details.

Although there is, to a greater or lesser degree, a religious element to various political constituencies to which American politicians are accustomed to speaking, the strength of the idea of America as the "new Israel" which, rather than having superseded the old, venerated it and drew inspiration from it politically, cannot be understated as a cultural phenomenon that went way beyond the confines of a purely religious perspective. It's a strong, organic part of the American mythology.

Supercessionism was an important part of the early development of Christian religious doctrine. But the political sentiments of religious groups that came to and founded America clearly saw a political parallel to the country of which they were becoming a part and the Israel of antiquity, in which the concept of superiority was an evermore nonsensical notion. America's interests indeed! America's identity was defined in part by the country's identification with Israel no less in America's founding than it was during and subsequent to Israel's rebirth in 1948.


art eckstein - 9/10/2007

The policy of the Clinton Administration:


To provide greater coherence to U.S. policy in this area, Clinton appointed a special commission on conventional arms exports. On the basis of this review, he announced a new conventional arms transfer policy on 17 February 1995. Reiterating many of the arguments made by previous administrations, the Clinton policy embraced both the security and the economic justifications for military sales. With respect to the latter, the policy specifically mandated that "the impact on U.S. industry" of pending sales ] was to be taken into account when deciding on future transactions.[NOTE, PETER--'THE IMPACT ON U.S. INDUSTRY'; THIS APPARENTLY TRUMPS THE IMPACT OF ZOG, IT SEEMS]

In line with this policy, Clinton approved a series of major arms sales to friendly nations in the Persian Gulf area. Arguing that the United States had vital security interests in this region—notably the free flow of oil—and that these countries would be called on to assist U.S. forces in the event of an attack by Iran or Iraq, Clinton authorized the transfer of $46.5 billion worth of military hardware to the Middle East in 1993–2000—an amount that represented about three-fourths of the total value of all U.S. military transfers to the developing world. Saudi Arabia was the principal beneficiary of this largess, obtaining 72 advanced F-15XP Eagle jet fighters, 150 M-1A2 Abrams tanks, 12 Patriot air-defense missile batteries, and thousands of missiles of various types; Kuwait obtained 6 Patriot missile units, 256 M-1A2 Abrams tanks, and 16 AH-64 Apache attack helicopters; and the UAE obtained 10 AH-64s and 80 F-16 fighters.

$46.5 BILLION worth of military merchandise to the Arab regimes of the Gulf (incl. S.A.) during 1993-2000 (just seven years)--WOW, look at the power of ZOG to stop THAT, Peter! Congress just marches in lock-step with the Israelis, it seems, even if it means to the detriment of U.S. security interests as perceived by Congress and the Administration, and even if it means to the detriment of U.S. army mfgs and their lobby.

Oh--maybe not so much.


art eckstein - 9/10/2007

The sale of the F15E's to Saudi Arabia was in 1992. Here's an example from 1982: AWACS

The Reagan Administration actively sought to diminish Israel’s voice and influence over the AWACS deal. In public speeches, Administration officials admonished Israel for getting involved in a U.S. foreign policy matter. Secretary of State Alexander Haig said the President must be “free of the restraints of overriding external vetoes,” and went on to say that were the AWACS deal blocked by Israeli influence, there would be “serious implications on all American policies in the Middle East... I’ll just leave it there.”[14] Reagan himself declared, “It is not the business of other nations to make American foreign policy.” In August of 1981, the Administration delayed indefinitely the delivery of military aircraft to Israel, a move that Israelis interpreted as pressure to approve of the AWACS sale [WHAT, PETER, NO PROTESTS OF THIS MOVE FROM THE ISRAEL AND JEWS- CONTROLLED CONGRESS?]


In order to gain support for the AWACS deal in Congress and in the country, the Administration lobbied strongly on behalf of it. Though it continually stated the AWACS deal would benefit U.S. “interests” in the Middle East, the Administration also gave promises of the AWACS planes’ importance in securing peace. In a speech to Congress, Alexander Haig said that if the AWACS sale was blocked, “our security, the security of Israel and peace itself (might) be endangered,” ] Reagan himself promoted the AWACS sale saying, “By contributing to the stability of the area, it improves Israeli security.”[18] The Administration even commissioned former government officials to speak about AWACS as part of the peace cause. Richard Nixon’s Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said “it is essential for the peace process in the Middle East.”[ OH, OH, I GUESS HENRY FORGOT HE WAS JEWISH!]

Congress approved the AWACS sale, and as part of the then largest arms export ever, the planes were a symbolic commitment to the U.S./Saudi relationship.

Peter, to this day the Saudis have five AWACS planes, AND THE ISRAELIS HAVE NONE. This too has been accepted by Congress.


art eckstein - 9/10/2007

Sorry, this is the F15E fighter-bomber. The first foreign sale was to the Saudis, and for 18 months it was the ONLY foreign sale. The Israelis couldn't match this plane.


art eckstein - 9/10/2007

Thanks N.F. Here's another example of the alleged "lapdog of Israel" Congress:

In September 1992, the Bush Administration and Congress approved the export of 48 of the aircraft to Saudi Arabia, largely on the basis of an aggressive "jobs now" campaign waged by McDonnell Douglas (MD), the manufacturer of the aircraft. The Air Force was finished procuring the jet, and so MD devised a national campaign to promote the controversial sale explicitly on the number of jobs that it would sustain (see Arms Sales Monitor No. 16 and No. 17).


This was the FIRST time the jet--which can deliver twelve tons of bombs 1,000 miles--had been exported to ANY nation. Only two years previously, the plane was rushed into service with the U.S.Air Force for the Gulf War, where it was used on hundreds of deep-strike bombing raids. The Saudi planes will be less capable than U.S. F-15E jets: they will carry less ordnance and are not currently slated to carry AMRAAM or HARM missiles, and the radar will have a lower resolution. Nevertheless, this was the most sophisticated combat aircraft the United States had ever exported...until a year and a half later, when the Clinton Administration and Congress agreed to give Israel 21 F-15E bombers with greater capabilities, in order to maintain Israel's qualitative military edge over Saudi Arabia.

But though 18 months later Congress redressed the balance, this means that in 1992--AN ELECTION YEAR--Congress voted a sale that gave the Saudis of an airplane that disrupted the qualitative edge in the air that the Israelis had; and they have an edge only in quality, not in quantity.

Reason for the sale: Saudi pressure--and McDonnell-Douglas pressure--and the furthering of U.S. interests in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf. In the face of this, the deep Israeli concerns about this sale didn't, and couldn't, stop the approval of the sale.


N. Friedman - 9/10/2007

All of your posts here, Art, are excellent. And, Peter cannot address them directly. I predict he will change the topic, as is his habit when confronted with facts.

But, let us not mince words. I think Peter know full well that M & W's argument is BS. He as much as has admitted it. And, his one last refuge - the supposed subservient Congress - has been shown to be nonsense by your posts here. Excellent.


art eckstein - 9/10/2007

Oh, and Peter--Britain's done a lot of controversial things in its history (for instance, the Falklands War); when's the last time Congress criticized BRITAIN?

Must be...the sinister influence of...The British Lobby!


art eckstein - 9/10/2007

I mean, instead of CONCENTRATING Wolfowitz, Feith, Perle, Kristol and Krauthammer? Wouldn't the whole depiction of Jewish Americans look a bit DIFFERENT if they'd done so, Peter?


art eckstein - 9/10/2007

This visit to Rice of three prominent poltical scientists--Waltz, Lebow and Jervis, all jews--who warned AGAINST Iraq was hardly unknown to Mearsheimer and Walt. They all know each other. Don't you think it would change the "configuration of the narrative" if they DID mention it, eh?


art eckstein - 9/10/2007

23 July 2002

WHITE HOUSE CRITICIZES ISRAELI ATTACK ON GAZA APARTMENT BUILDING

President Bush sees "as heavy-handed" an Israeli warplane's missile
attack on a Gaza City apartment building that killed a leader of Hamas
who was at the top of Israel's most-wanted list and at least 14 other
Palestinians, including nine children.
"The President views this as a heavy-handed action that is not
consistent with dedication to peace in the Middle East," White House
Press Secretary Ari Fleischer told reporters July 23.


art eckstein - 9/10/2007


Congress also authorized the sale of fighter jets and AWACS to Saudi Arabia over very strong Israeli objections that this would harm Israeli security.


art eckstein - 9/10/2007

The US Govt has several times restrained Israeli actions and urged compromise in such strong terms that Ariel Sharon as P.M. openly worried in a news conference that Israel was about to become the new Czechoslovakia at U.S. hands. So much for Sharon as god.


A. M. Eckstein - 9/10/2007

Peter:

1. M and W make "the Israeli hawks" a crucial force behind the decision to invade Iraq. This is historically wrong.

2. As far as Americans go, do you really think it is an accident that in searching out the "real" movers for the invasion M & W come up with Wolfowitz, Feith, Kristol, Kagan, Krauthammer and Perle--all of whom "happen" to be Jews--as opposed to say, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice and Tenet, none of whom happen to be Jews and every single one of whom had far more power over decisions than Wolfowitz, Feith, Kristol, Kagan, Krauthammer and Perle?

I don't distort their position. Rather, they offer a distorted representation of how things happened. By focusing on these people rather than on the REAL decision-makers and THEIR motives, the result is a classic "Jewish puppet-master" scenario.

For instance, why didn't W and M focus on Ken Waltz, Ned Lebow and Robert Jervis, all THREE of whom are very prominent political scientists who in a dramatic meeting with Rice tried to dissuade her AGAINST invading Iraq? All three are Jews. Gives a rather different picture of the run-up to Iraq than the picture W and M draw doesn't it? Then consider the picture that W and M drew in the London Review of Books piece. QED.


A. M. Eckstein - 9/10/2007

I got it, NF. and I've responded. Hope you got it! If not, email me again! :)


AE


N. Friedman - 9/10/2007

Thank you.

By the way, I sent you an email.

N.


A. M. Eckstein - 9/10/2007

NF wrote:

"Actually, I think the administration went into Iraq for what they thought were noble reasons - along quite possibly with wanting to help their real allies in the oil industry. I think they dramatically misperceived the difficulties that an invasion entailed. Of course, how history ultimately judges the matter remains to be seen - and, as I have said repeatedly, I would not have invaded and certainly not to bring liberal society to an illiberal society that does not want it, which makes the adventure a folly, in my book."

In the light of information that is now available, I myself agree totally with this understanding. But as NF also says, we don't have access to the archives yet.


N. Friedman - 9/10/2007

Professor,

M & W said on the radio that the "lobby's" role in fomenting the Iraq war is central to their thesis. And, I might add: the entire premise of their argument concerns the US being dragged into someone else's fight, namely, Israel's fight - something they claim they find hard to explain other than by means of lobbying efforts. And, on their telling, the most important aspect of that effort concerns Iraq - something they now have inadvertently admitted is simply not so. So, as is often the case, Peter is full of beans.

I might also note that they deny the vast impact of Arab oil money, about which, when challenged on the radio, they changed the subject and claimed that the US oil lobby is not nearly as strong.

Perhaps, they might have noted that the US oil lobby has its own issues and they have had a bonanza - more than any other group - due to the Iraq war, which has helped to drive up the price of oil and allowed humongous profits. But of course, by M & W's reckoning, oil money would never want a war to increase profits dramatically. Such could never occur, most especially with oil men in high places in the Bush administration. Give me a break!!!

Actually, I think the administration went into Iraq for what they thought were noble reasons - along quite possibly with wanting to help their real allies in the oil industry. I think they dramatically misperceived the difficulties that an invasion entailed. Of course, how history ultimately judges the matter remains to be seen - and, as I have said repeatedly, I would not have invaded and certainly not to bring liberal society to an illiberal society that does not want it, which makes the adventure a folly, in my book -, it is still too early to tell. And, we do not have real access to the private views of the most important decision makers, so we do not really know what was the driving force. But surely M & W have it mostly backwards, because their thesis makes no sense, since their inversion of cause and effect - correctly noted by Professor LeVine - and since they factual sequence on which their analysis is premised is, by their own admission, wrong.


art eckstein - 9/10/2007

NF, email me at aeckstein@comcast.net, and I'll tell you the source behind the question I asked Omar over on the "Warriors of God" threat.

best,

Art


art eckstein - 9/10/2007

N.F., don't abandon the debate we are having with Omar, on "Warriors of God," even though we now have to go to "search" to get to it.

Take a look at the question I've asked Omar there. You'll love it. We must press him for an answer.

Art


art eckstein - 9/10/2007

This is a direct quote from their article in the London Review of Books, 23 March 2006. And of course it was part of an entire section of the article devoted to asserting the thesis that Israel and the Jews were behind the Iraq War.


art eckstein - 9/10/2007

The original paper of early 2006 devoted an entire section to the authors' claim that Israel used the Lobby to conduct a campaign in favor of war.

Mearsheimer and Walt, in the original paper: "Pressure from Israel and the Lobby was not the only factor behind the decision to attack Iraq in March 2003, but it was critical."


N. Friedman - 9/10/2007

Peter,

Since they have said just that repeatedly, you are, as usual, wrong.


N. Friedman - 9/10/2007

Peter,

There have been numerous books about Christian versions of Zionism. And, it has been discussed in numerous other books. What is discussed in the CM is one part of it, interpreted by CM, which has another view of Christianity.

Again, one newspaper article and Wikipedia are insufficient basis to understand an important Christian movement that goes back to the 19th Century and has had numerous presidents as followers.


N. Friedman - 9/9/2007

Art,

I agree. But I also note that, for a change, Professor LeVine has said something on target. The driving force is not little Israel. It is the US, for better or worse.

In this case, the US might perhaps have done better to listen to Israel. Then again, if the US had listened, it might also have become a mess anyway, but in a different country.


N. Friedman - 9/9/2007

Peter,

When this conversation began, you claimed to know exactly nothing about these people. Now, you talk as if you knew something. Somehow - since this is far more complicated than you think -, you ought to study a bit more before you make yourself sound even more foolish than you already sound.

Now, these people are not, for the most part, extreme or being duped or anything else. They hold a theological view with very long roots in Christianity. You, knowing very little about the matter, read an article on Wikipedia, which concerns one minor part of this group.

In fact, the Christian Zionists are part of a movement, whether or not you understand them. And, they are rather important, not only now but in American history. And, a good number of presidents have been of the very same viewpoint.

As always, Peter, you need to study before you have opinions. And, that means reading something other than the most popular titles.


art eckstein - 9/9/2007

If the US Govt had LISTENED to the Israelis, there would have been far less likelihood of an invasion of Iraq. They advised going after Iran--and were ignored. The misguided effort against Saddam originated as a purely U.S. affair, and the Israelis eventually went along with it.

The tail didn't wag the dog--the dumb dog (Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, Tenet, none of whom is Jewish) did the wagging.

This hasn't stopped people, including W and M originally, for going down into the second and third level of the bureaucracies involved, looking for Jewish "puppet-masters." Classic anti-semitism.

This is not to say that Israel and its friends don't have influence in the U.S. Govt. They do. So do the Saudis. So do the British. So, most of all, do the auto companies, the oil companies, the arms companies. But W and M for their part come perilously close to asserting ZOG ("Zionist Occupied Government")--for those of you who remember the crazies on, say, Ruby Ridge, Idaho.


N. Friedman - 9/9/2007

I note that there are sources which put the number of Christian Zionists only at around the 30 million mark. But, of course, that does not include millions of people who are essentially of the same view.


N. Friedman - 9/9/2007

Peter,

The part about Jews moving to Israel is not what defines the movement. That is, as I said, one minor group among a very large movement.


N. Friedman - 9/9/2007

Peter,

Let us assume you are correct and there were 20 million Christian Zionists. That is nearly 5 times more people than in the National Rifle Association, for what it is worth.

In any event, those who care about Israel for religious reasons, as Christian Zionists do, care very passionately about Israel. No politician will do something to undermine such a large constituency with a religiously driven focus.

For comparison, imagine a South Florida politician expecting to win elections by singing the praises of Fidel. In the case of the Christian Zionists, we are speaking a nation wide group who see Israel as central to their belief system.

Such people, coupled with others who hold Israel dear for a wide variety of personal, religious and political reasons and, post 9/11, as another embattled country and sympathy will be widespread.

It is, however, worth noting that, notwithstanding your assertions that no one in Congress says bad things ever about Israel, that such is not so. And, I might add, such has never been so. And, Congress has more than occasionally voted for measures actively opposed by Israel's many friends.

So, we have exagerated assertions by you and by W & M and we have a complete failure to understand the US. We also have Professor Eckstein's point that if we go by W & M's theory of realism as they always, until now held it, lobbying has no impact since it does not determine what countries do.

I might add: were it Israel's influence that really counted, the US would have gone after Iran, as M & W now admit. So, they have a very dubious assertion since the most important foreign policy initiative of the US in the lasta 10 years is the Iraq war, something Israel not only did not push for but, rather they pushed for something the US chose not to do - namely, go after Iran -, as M & W admit.

In short, they and you are full of it.



N. Friedman - 9/9/2007

Peter,

You are using the term Christian Zionist too narrowly. It is not a single, defined group, as you describe. It is those who hold the views I ascribed to them. And, that is around the numbers I describe.

In any event, consider: a lobby does not force anyone to vote. And, politicians worry about who votes for them. Obviously, they worry to obtain money but, in the end, the goal is to get votes. And, those who hold the noted theological view will not - since it is a theological imperative - vote for someone who opposes that imperative, religion being a question of serious concern to such a person.

Again, the numbers are, in fact, in the range I ascribe.


N. Friedman - 9/8/2007

Peter,

I suggest that you dig a bit more. You will find that there are tens of millions of Christian Zionists.

As for M & W, they are merely pushing their frustration that their ideas are not listened to. And, with good reason, as the Times article notes. Their ideas about the world are wacky nonsense pretending to be realism.


art eckstein - 9/8/2007

The most striking and disturbing part of the M and W article and book for me is that for 25 years these two scholars have argued that INTERNAL POLITICS HAVE ALMOST NO IMPACT ON EXTERNAL FOREIGN POLICY. The determinants of foreign policies of all states are THE EXTERNAL PRESSURES CAUSED BY (a) the lack of international law, (b) the resulting "self-help" system that emerges from this anarchy, (c) the brutal and ruthless power-maximizing behavior that the self-help system encourages all states to engage in, and (d) the shadow of violence between and among states caused by the anarchy, self-help, and power-maximizing.

Altogether this approach to international relations is called "Neorealism" and it is the dominant mode of analysis of international relations among political scientists such as Mearsheimer and Walt (though Neorealism is also not without being challenged).

This is most clear in the book that Mearsheimer published just before this one: The Tragedy of Great Power Politics (2001). But Mearsheimer has written many important articles, especially in the journal International Security, along these lines and advocating these principles. Walt is similar; his most famous work (until now) is The Origins of Alliances (1984), which applied the Neorealist principles to that particular topic.

NOW it turns out that there is ONE and ONLY one exception to this approach, which M and W have faithfully followed and consistently advocated for 25 years. Not the arms merchants. Not the oil companies. Not Halliburton. THE JEWS.

Disgusting.


N. Friedman - 9/8/2007

Peter,

I might add that the point made in the M and W quote regarding how Israel came to support the Iraq war strongly supports Professor LeVine's argument that the US, not Israel, is the driving force in the relationship between the countries.

Were it not so, we would be learning about all the inner disputes that exist among Iranians rather than Iraqis.


N. Friedman - 9/8/2007

Peter,

You make my case. This is one of those topics that people like you just know nothing about.

The Christian Zionist movement is humongous, with tens of millions of adherents. The typical estimate is about 68 million Americans.

Their views on Israel are directly tied, theologically speaking, to that of the restorationists of the 19th and early 20th century. I believe, for what it is worth, that even Woodrow Wilson was a restorationist. And that is important since Wilson supported the Balfour Declaration. The same is true for Truman.

What marks restorationists and today's Christian Zionists is their view that there is a covenant between Jews and God that remains intact. They tend to see considerable importance and have substantial interest in the Jewish Scriptures. That marks them different from other Christians who tend to view the Hebrew Scriptures less charitably.

So, you see the matter is not quite what you think.

I might also note: there are rather good pragmatic reasons why someone might disagree with M and W's understanding of the Arab Israeli dispute that, no doubt, colored how they see the dispute. Recall the points raised by Benny Morris that we discussed at the time.

Regarding reviews, the New York Times included this:

The general tone of hostility to Israel grates on the nerves, however, along with an unignorable impression that hardheaded political realism can be subject to its own peculiar fantasies. Israel is not simply one country among many, for example, just as Britain is not. Americans feel strong ties of history, religion, culture and, yes, sentiment, that the authors recognize, but only in an airy, abstract way.

They also seem to feel that, with Israel and its lobby pushed to the side, the desert will bloom with flowers. A peace deal with Syria would surely follow, with a resultant end to hostile activity by Hezbollah and Hamas. Next would come a Palestinian state, depriving Al Qaeda of its principal recruiting tool. (The authors wave away the idea that Islamic terrorism thrives for other reasons.) Well, yes, Iran does seem to be a problem, but the authors argue that no one should be particularly bothered by an Iran with nuclear weapons. And on and on.

“It is time,” Mr. Mearsheimer and Mr. Walt write, “for the United States to treat Israel not as a special case but as a normal state, and to deal with it much as it deals with any other country.” But it’s not. And America won’t. That’s realism.


N. Friedman - 9/8/2007

Peter,

I also read the article. I do not question that there are a number of strong pro-Israel lobbies. One would have to be nuts to deny that.

But, strange as it sounds, such does not account for how Congress behaves. A better explanation is the view - most particularly in the case of 68 million Christian Zionists, theological imperative - of the vast majority of Americans. Guys like M and W - and, evidently, you - do not fully appreciate the significance of religious and cultural feeling is here.

I might recommend a good book for you, Michael Oren's Power, Faith, and Fantasy in the Middle East. The view that Jews should be restored to their homeland has its veritable home not among Jews but among American Christians. In fact - and this is a humdinger - it owes much to a mid-19th Century biblical scholar who was a distinguished professor of Hebrew at New York University: George Bush. If I recall, he is related to the two presidents who share his surname. Restorationism was not a fringe view among Christians. It was a dominant view, to the extent of being the view of numerous presidents during the 19th Century. And, religious feeling for Israel's Jews transferred, in a sense, to the Christian Zionists, who view the bible in rather similar ways.

I raise the point because people like M and W just see the world differently. And, they are secular to the point of not understanding religion as a motive force in politics.

I happened, some time back before M and W became controversial, to have corresponded with the noted W. I challenged his view that the hostility shown toward the West by divergent groups of Muslims had lacked connections, ideologically speaking. I noted, with my manner of quotes and citations, to note just how connected I think they are, to which he replied not that I was wrong but, in effect, such is another way of looking at the matter but that the overlapping religious ideology was, in his view, unimportant. The point here is that he just does not see religion as an important driving force. Now, to me, that disqualifies him as a serious scholar to address a dispute that revolves around religious differences - a war of religion against us, I think, not a problem of policy that causes nasty reactions.

In any event, the most significant reason why Congress is so supportive of Israel concerns affinity of feeling and religion to the extent that, even without a group of lobbies, it would be politically suicidal to be overly critical of Israel.

To note: the US is the most religious country in the West, by leaps and bounds. And, for Christians who see Israel as important, the country is a theological imperative. So, a politician who holds Israel less dearly is better inclined - not because of any lobby but because of what constituents would do, with out without any lobbies - to support the views of constituents.

I might also note: a closer look at what Congress has done over the years does not support the contention of blind support. It supports the contention of very strong support, which is a very different thing. There are, in fact, substantial incidents where Congress has voted against what Israel's various friends want.

As for the material I quoted: the very center of M and W's case is that Israel, via its lobby, pushed the US into the war with Iraq and that has harmed the US. That is not what I say, it is what they say. So, having themselves now admit that such is contrary to fact - since Israel was not pushing the US to make war against Iraq -, it calls their credibility into serious question.

Or, is it your view that having the central thesis demolished counts for naught?


N. Friedman - 9/8/2007

Peter,

The material you quote amounts to a form of essentialist nonsense. The lobby that existed back in the 1970's was simply not that strong and, by all accounts, it did not, at the time, have the ear of all of Congress and, most certainly, not of Nixon. So, you quote a person who views things as entirely static.

And, by the way, it now appears that M and W have seriously contradicted their major premise that Israel, using its lobby, was the driving force to go into Iraq. Here is what Mearsheimer said in response to a question, also below reproduced, on the NPR radio show ON POINT:

"Ashbrook: The argument’s been made that Iran is Israel’s greater fear, so if the Israel Lobby were so powerful, why would the US have gone into Iraq? That’s not the number one Israeli concern. Is there a contradiction then John, in you having described Iraq as the result of Israeli lobby influence?

Mearsheimer: No, Tom. It’s quite clear that in early 2002 – now remember we went into Iraq in March 2003. In early 2002 when the Israelis caught wind of the fact that we were seriously thinking about doing Iraq, that they came to Washington and told us that they would prefer that we do Iran first. The Israelis very clearly thought that Iran was a greater threat than Iraq. It’s not that they were uninterested in having us effect regime change in Iraq and Syria, it’s just that they preferred Iran.

But once they came to understand that Iraq would be the first operation, and we would subsequently deal with Iran and Syria, they embraced the idea of attacking Iraq, although they continually reminded us that we had to do Iran and Syria afterwards.

So what you see from early 2002 up until the war starts in March 2003 is that the Israelis are pushing us very hard, harder than other country outside the United States, to go to war against Saddam Hussein."


In short, the US administration (a) was pursuing a matter for its own reasons that (b) the Israelis then, after being unsuccessful in re-directing toward its serious concerns, came to support. So, if that country's alleged super lobby was the driving force in favor of pushing us into Iraq, why was the supposed beneficiary of that policy pushing for a different policy?

If you listen to the interview, the real problem is that M and W base their opinion, not on research of events, but on picking and choosing "admissions" and other comments and statements that appear in newspapers and magazines, etc. Which is to say, the two gentlemen who criticize M and W were exactly correct. (a) M and W did not speak with those in various administrations who actually have information - which is a critical flaw - and (b) did not speak with lobbyists either.

This is not to suggest that Israel lacks a strong lobby in the US. It is, instead, to suggest that the theory of the book that there is a party behind the scenes which effectively pulls the strings is a garbage allegation. And, notwithstanding the denials of M and W, such is what they allege.

And, lastly, if you listen carefully to what is stated during the interview, they again and again avoid answering direct questions.

The real point here is that M and W disagree with US policy. However, they effectively, notwithstanding denials, allege a conspiracy by a group which does not have the country's interest first in mind. And, such is, as the critics state, exactly what Stalin and Hitler did. Pretty pathetic.


Beth Klopott - 9/8/2007

Hurray. Someone has finally said the truth about the relationship between Israel and the US. Thank you Mr. LeVine!!


N. Friedman - 9/7/2007

Professor,

You are surely correct that W and M have it all wrong - in fact, backwards. And you are correct when you say that Israel is forced to do so of the US's bidding.

On the other hand, I doubt that the US prefers no settlement. Instead, I think the US government does not believe there is a settlement to be had. And, I do not think the Israelis believe there to be a settlement. Perhaps that is my bias but, in this regard, I do not think, at present, that there really is a settlement to be had.

I do agree with you in part that the instability caused by the non-settlement of the dispute is a major problem in that region. But, it is hardly the main problem.

The main problem, as I see, is that religion remains a, if not the, major political issue most especially, albeit not only, to a large percentage of the region's Muslims. So long as the political divide remains religious - with, for example, Muslims pining for a return, as polling shows, to old style Shari'a as a cure-all and find convincing the saying "Islam is the answer" - it is not reasonable to expect any resolution to any serious problems. Such is the most reactionary voice of tradition rearing its ugly head. Such is the voice of "to the red and the black" for which peace is not an option.

Perhaps the desire for tradition will turn out to be half-hearted, just as the movement among religious Jews to settle Gaza was, in the end, half-hearted. I doubt it but we shall see how it all plays out.