Piling on Walt & Mearsheimer

Two more anti-W-M book reviews to report. The first, from Bloomberg News, a devastating attack by Charles Taylor who, I think if I were to take a guess judging by his name, is not a member of The Lobby (or The Tribe).

Were Mearsheimer and Walt simply saying that Israel’s hard- line policies have often done the country more harm than good (as have the Americans who confuse any criticism of Israel with a threat to its existence), they’d be on solid ground. They claim not to be espousing a theory of a Jewish cabal or a conspiracy — and they’re not. In “The Israel Lobby”‘ there’s nothing secret about Jewish influence. Every bit of U.S. foreign policy that benefits Israel or harms the U.S. has a Jew behind it.

Contradictions, evasions and lapses of logic pepper the text. When the authors want to argue that Israel was not an effective U.S. ally in the Cold War, it’s a small country. When they want to argue that Israel can easily repel any aggression from hostile neighbors, it’s a land of military might.

And yet another devastating conclusion:

In general, critics of Mearsheimer and Walt have dismissed the charges of anti-Semitism against them. But what else can account for a scenario in which Jews are the center of every perfidy, exerting so much influence and dispensing so much money that the goyim spring into line? And how can research so shoddy, so quick to ignore anything that contradicts it, so ready to subjugate facts to ideology qualify as serious?

The eager reception the pair have found in some parts of the left may yet cause embarrassment when those who embraced them come face to face with their realpolitik. Their argument against U.S. support of Israel is that our alliances must be decided solely by self-interest.

That’s the very ideology that has led the U.S. to align itself with dictators in the past and to spurn countries that desperately needed American help. The disaster of Iraq may have led many on the left to think there’s no case left for liberal interventionism (which need not be military). But are leftists really willing to desert their long-held view that oppression should be named and confronted?

In the hands of Mearsheimer and Walt, the socialism of fools has become the foreign policy of idiots.

The L.A. Times’ Tim Rutten is equally as sharp:

It’s interesting that the authors chose to first float their arguments in the London Review rather than, say, in Foreign Affairs or some other American journal. While I subscribe to the review — and, in fact, have been invited several times to contribute to it — it’s a melancholy fact that, in recent years, like so much of the European intellectual press, it has become objectively anti-Semitic in its treatment of Israel. And while it’s true that the authors have had several invitations to speak about their book in the United States withdrawn, it’s also true that this volume arrives under the imprint of what is arguably America’s most prestigious publishing house.

Odd that the all-powerful Israel lobby let that happen.

To get a flavor of the professors’ argument, here’s how they described the lobby’s operations inside the U.S. Congress: “Another source of the Lobby’s power is its use of pro-Israel congressional staffers. As Morris Amitay, a former head of [the American Israel Public Affairs Committee], once admitted, ‘there are a lot of guys at the working level up here’ — on Capitol Hill — ‘who happen to be Jewish, who are willing. . . to look at certain issues in terms of their Jewishness. . . . These are all guys who are in a position to make the decision in these areas for those senators. . . . ”

The quotation from an AIPAC staff member is an ingenious twist on the old dual-loyalty argument, but at the end of the day, you’ve still got sour old wine in new skins.

Rutten’s conclusion:

In fact, if you accept the analysis put forward in this book, it’s impossible not to conclude that the United States was, in fact, tricked into a disastrous war in Iraq by a domestic Fifth Column and that the ranks of that subversive formation are filled with Jews, their friends and willing dupes.

Mearsheimer and Walt go to great pains to proclaim their disinterested benevolence toward all and to attach the word “realist” to their argument. The only adjective that comes to this reader’s mind is “sinister.”

Both articles should be read in their entirety. And may I say: You see? It wasn’t my imagination. People who do not generally use the word “anti-Semitism” are all but accusing the authors of it. On the one hand, I’m glad to keep finding these reviews. On the other hand, the effing book is a best-seller. Then again, best-sellers reach the top of the list by selling only a few hundred thousand copies. I’d love to see the publisher’s statement on “The Israel Lobby.” I want to know how many they sell. Discounting, of course, the sales they’re going to make overseas. Wait for the pictures of the book next to “Mein Kampf” in Arab nations, just like Jimmy Carter’s anti-Israel screed.

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12 Responses to Piling on Walt & Mearsheimer

  1. Eris says:

    Here are some questions for Walt and Mearsheimer.

    Authors have been writing about the Jewish control of the world for some time. Er – about 2,000 years, to be exact.

    Starting in Roman Times, to the Blood Libel of the Middle Ages, to the anti-Jewish polemics that fueled the pogroms of Russia, to the Protocols of the

    Elders of Zion, to the rants of Julius Streicher; Josef Goebbels; Adolf Hitler, to Arab propaganda that accelerated after the founding of Israel, to Iran’s Ahmadi-Nejad … and many others … the claim has been made that the Jews exert undue influence to their own benefit and to the detriment of everyone else.

    So, I ask you, Professors Walt and Mearsheimer: which of the historical accusations (those in my list and the others that have occurred) against the Jews do you find true, and which untrue?

    If you believe the historical predecessors to your essay and book on the “Jewish Lobby” were untrue, I also ask you: why are you right, when your historical predecessors saying basically the same things were not?

    And if your historical predecessors were correct in their assessments that Jews controlled the world or exerted undue influence, why have you not referenced these works to bolster your arguments?

  2. Lefty says:

    Out of curiosity, has _anyone_ given this book or the original LRB article a good review? I don’t think there’s been a single positive review. The only recent book to have gotten thrashed this thoroughly was Dinesh D’Souza’s “The Enemy At Home”.

  3. corwin says:

    I expect American Jews to be more emotionally involved with Israel than I(a Gentile and agnostic).But why am I stupid to believe it’s in my(and America’s) self interest to have a Liberal democracy in the Middle East as our ally.
    I think some of the Left routinely feel any ally of the US must be evil,QED,Israel is evil.
    Still,I’m not willing to state anti Semitism isn’t a factor.And I do worry about the Democrats tendency to count potential Arabic voters and withdraw support.

  4. Andrew says:

    The thing that folks like Walt and Mearsheimer don’t get is that a lot of American support for Israel is based on the underlying fact that Americans like Israel. Even if there were no strategic advantages to an American alliance with Israel, the general public would still largely be pro-Israel.

    Why? Because we like countries where the populace votes and throws out unpopular governments. We like countries where women can wear what they want and run the government. We like countries that, well, like us. There’s simply a half-century of emotional and intellectual ties between Israel and the US that aren’t going to be cut by the revelation that, GASP, there’s an Israel lobby in the country.

    Actually, I should correct myself. Walt and Mearsheimer probably know that Americans like Israel on a deeper level. They just think that belief is the result of weak minds being manipulated by a Jew-controlled media.

    Even if that wasn’t anti-Semitic, it would still be an awful argument to make. Look, I can accept that reasonable people disagree with me on Israel. Hey, I’m a wacked-out liberal Democrat, so a number of folks I agree with on other issues are opposed to me here. (Though I’ll say that the extent of leftist antagonism toward Israel is somewhat over-stated) But Walt and Mearsheimer seem to think that the very act of having a pro-Israel mindset is evidence of a weak, manipulated mind. And I find that insulting and dangerous, both as someone who’s pro-Israel and as someone who just likes legitimate argumentation.

  5. Hugh says:

    Meryl, isn’t Charles Taylor the publisher of Little Green Footballs?

  6. AG in Houston says:


    That would be Charles Johnson.

  7. Hugh says:

    Thanks AG. I should have known I was getting careless. ;-)

  8. Eris says:

    Still,I’m not willing to state anti Semitism isn’t a factor.And I do worry about the Democrats tendency to count potential Arabic voters and withdraw support.

    $20 million is also a lot of dough.

    Saudi donates $20 million to Harvard , Boston Globe, Dec. 13, 2005. http://www.boston.com/news/education/higher/articles/2005/12/13/saudi_donates_20m_to_harvard/%20

    Funny how the Walt-Mearshiemer paper was submitted on 03/13/2006 (http://ksgnotes1.harvard.edu/Research/wpaper.nsf/rwp/RWP06-011 ).

  9. Eris says:

    For a concise overview of the problems with the Walt-Mearsheimer essay and book, see the 5 page pdf at this link.

    This pdf is being widely disseminated in academia, industry and government.

  10. Lightnin' Roy says:

    Good post. But I really hate that expression “the socialism of fools” because it wrongly implies that not all socialists are fools.

  11. Eris says:

    Walt and Mearsheimer’s essay and book are probably the most thoroughly discredited works in history (see this link).

    This is quite an accomplishment. Good work, Professors! (Were Gilligan and Mary Ann your research assistants?)

    Oh, and please, no ad hominem attacks (see this link) against the authors of these critiques. if you’re going to open your piehole, find some meat and make an argument like a man, not a drunken cossack, demented leftist, sufferer of this problem, or chimpanzee, if you disagree with the aforementioned linked assessments.

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