Monday, April 17, 2006

Eric Alterman on Walt-Mearsheimer

Eric Alterman has some excellent comments on the Walt-Mearsheimer paper and the response thereto. His opening paragraph is excellent:

The University of Chicago's John Mearsheimer is among America's most admired political scientists. Stephen Walt is the academic dean and a chaired professor at Harvard's Kennedy School. Neither man has ever made any remotely racist or anti-Semitic utterance in the public sphere. And yet because they recently published an essay in The London Review of Books and (with full scholarly apparatus) on the Kennedy School website that critically and--this is key--unsentimentally examines the role of the "Israel lobby" in the making of US foreign policy, these two scholars have been subjected to a relentless barrage of vituperative insults in which the accusation "anti-Semite" is merely the beginning.

Unfortunately, Alterman concludes with some unwarranted criticism of the paper. First, he complains that Israel is singled out, without discussion of the influence of other lobbies. Second, he finds too little discussion of oil interests.

I just don't see a lot of evidence that big oil was involved in getting us into Iraq. If Alterman has such information he should provide it.

I also don't see any Middle Eastern country exerting any influence whatsoever in Middle Eastern affairs, as strange as that sounds. For example, the US has wasted no time pulling funding for the occupied territories. I did not see any Arab nation effectively lobby to continue this funding, or even slow down the decision process.

It is hard to take Alterman's claims seriously without any examples of the influence of the other "lobbies" in action


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