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Bloggingheads 01-26-2009 10:12 PM

Trapped in the Tunnel
 

nikkibong 01-26-2009 10:55 PM

Re: Trapped in the Tunnel
 
"The Indians," "The French," etc. etc. - can you guys please stop referring to specific governments and people as if they are the embodiment of their multilayered, multifaceted nation states? Dan, does one statement Bernard Kouchner made in a radio interview really indicate rudeness on the part of "The French" ? (no, but francoamericans posts do - JK!)

I know this is typical IR jargon, but I find it, well, jarring. It seems crude and reductive to impart individual governmental actions on the part of millions and millions of different people.

I wish 'THE' International Relations scholars would knock it off!

Namazu 01-26-2009 11:35 PM

Manipulate This!
 
10-year yield

Chart caption: "Tim Geithner is in the wrong job." Mandarin translation above the English. And with $135B of new Treasury issuance this week, it's looking like a really expensive brain fart.

bjkeefe 01-27-2009 03:31 AM

Re: Trapped in the Tunnel
 
Very interesting diavlog from beginning to end.

On the Kristol segment:

A lot does depend on what the NYT brass want for the position, of course. If they want to toss a bone to the Right, or check a box, or stir up controversy, that's one thing. But if they do want someone who has new ideas and can write, that's another. The two sets of criteria are not perfectly mutually exclusive, of course, but different priorities do shuffle the lists of candidates a lot.

I'm hoping, of course, that the NYT is looking less for buzz and more for quality, and to that end, I thought the distinction Dan drew between Safire and Kristol was smart -- as with any other hire, you have to keep in mind what the employee's longer-term goals are, and how they may conflict with performance in the here and now.

[In the case of Kristol specifically, there are of course other complaints -- he's not much of a writer, and his column strongly indicated laziness, both intellectual and otherwise. Bill Safire on his worst day was way better than Kristol, who is so mediocre, I refuse to say that he had a best day.]

bjkeefe 01-27-2009 03:34 AM

Re: Trapped in the Tunnel
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by nikkibong (Post 102223)
Dan, does one statement Bernard Kouchner made in a radio interview really indicate rudeness on the part of "The French" ?

I heard Dan saying, specifically, that Kouchner was being rude, and specifically that it was this particular statement. I take your general point about equating entire populations with a few spokespeople, but I think you misheard here.

a Duoist 01-27-2009 05:57 AM

Re: Trapped in the Tunnel
 
Tyler Cowan at the Old Grey Lady would be great; imagine the surge in readership.

Francoamerican 01-27-2009 08:46 AM

Re: Trapped in the Tunnel
 
I would have liked to hear a little more about the methodological flaws of the Walt/Mearsheimer thesis which supposedly invalidate it. Are these empirical flaws (insufficient evidence)? Or are they logical (the authors draw erroneous conclusions, either because their evidence is insufficient or because the evidence is sufficient but the conclusions drawn are incorrect?)

Walt/Mearsheimer start from the empirically well-grounded assumption that US foreign policy has been tilted towards Israel for the past thirty years or so. It would be hard to deny the existence of this bias, even if one bent over backwards to find evidence to the contrary. They then ask themselves the reason (cause) for this bias, given the fact that neither the "national interest" of the United States nor that of Israel seems to have been particularly well served by a policy of unqualified support. They then examine the various ways in which foreign policy comes to be made in the US and conclude, mirabile dictu, that certain groups in the US have exerted influence on policymakers to act contrary to the best national interests of both the United States and of Israel.

So we have three possible sources of empirical error:

1. The interpretation of US foreign policy over the past 30 years.
2. Definition of the national interests of the US and of Israel.
3. Influence of lobbies on the formation of foreign policy.

I would just like to hear our resident foreign policy specialists tell us where exactly the error crept into the Walt/Mearsheimer thesis.

AemJeff 01-27-2009 12:14 PM

Re: Trapped in the Tunnel
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Francoamerican (Post 102239)
I would have liked to hear a little more about the methodological flaws of the Walt/Mearsheimer thesis which supposedly invalidate it. Are these empirical flaws (insufficient evidence)? Or are they logical (the authors draw erroneous conclusions, either because their evidence is insufficient or because the evidence is sufficient but the conclusions drawn are incorrect?)

Walt/Mearsheimer start from the empirically well-grounded assumption that US foreign policy has been tilted towards Israel for the past thirty years or so. It would be hard to deny the existence of this bias, even if one bent over backwards to find evidence to the contrary. They then ask themselves the reason (cause) for this bias, given the fact that neither the "national interest" of the United States nor that of Israel seems to have been particularly well served by a policy of unqualified support. They then examine the various ways in which foreign policy comes to be made in the US and conclude, mirabile dictu, that certain groups in the US have exerted influence on policymakers to act contrary to the best national interests of both the United States and of Israel.

So we have three possible sources of empirical error:

1. The interpretation of US foreign policy over the past 30 years.
2. Definition of the national interests of the US and of Israel.
3. Influence of lobbies on the formation of foreign policy.

I would just like to hear our resident foreign policy specialists tell us where exactly the error crept into the Walt/Mearsheimer thesis.

This isn't a direct response, but Jon Chait's take seems relevant. His followup on The Plank is also interesting.

David Edenden 01-27-2009 12:24 PM

Re: Israel Lobby One More time
 
Henry and Daniel, notwithstanding the sloppiness of the Walt and Mearsheimer’s “The Israel Lobby”, saying that the "Israel Lobby" (read Likudnik lobby) unduly influences US Middle East policy to the detriment of the American national interest is like saying "the sun rises in the east and sets in the west". It is so obvious, that it should not engender any controversy.

However, antisemitism is a real issue that cannot be dismissed out of hand. The "sui generous" approach of Walt and Mearsheimer in discussing Israel naturally stiffens the back of the majority of Jewish people.

The best way to discuss the "Israel lobby" in general is to "compare and contrast" it to other lobbies and their impact on the national interest of the USA.

Henry and Daniel, my suggestion, which will not be a surprise to regular readers of my posts, is to get your students to compare the Israeli lobby to the Greek lobby on the "Macedonian dispute", along with the Mexican lobby and "the immigration issue".

In all three cases politicians will take positions that benefit their political prospects at the expense of the greater American national interest. (see Obama' position here)

There's the rub!

pampl 01-27-2009 03:36 PM

Re: Israel Lobby One More time
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by David Edenden (Post 102242)
\
The best way to discuss the "Israel lobby" in general is to "compare and contrast" it to other lobbies and their impact on the national interest of the USA.

Henry and Daniel, my suggestion, which will not be a surprise to regular readers of my posts, is to get your students to compare the Israeli lobby to the Greek lobby on the "Macedonian dispute", along with the Mexican lobby and "the immigration issue".

In all three cases politicians will take positions that benefit their political prospects at the expense of the greater American national interest. (see Obama' position here)

There's the rub!

Another example would be the Armenian-Americans, who were pressuring Congress to issue a statement condemning Turkey's genocide of Armenians 90ish years ago while we were relying on them for military support, which was a little awkward.

I'm probably being repetitive here but the US has been pro-Israel since before the state itself existed, then was the first to recognize it. There hasn't been any sort of abrupt pro-Israel shift caused by the relatively recent creation of any political entities.

I agree with Drezner and Farrell that conversation is limited among people with political aspirations, but the same is true of taking unpopular positions in more important debates, like drug legalization.

Michael 01-27-2009 07:34 PM

Re: Trapped in the Tunnel
 
The pumping, pumping of Barack Obama is like nothing seen since the era before the last great war. A second coming. A whole generation of correct-thinking intellectuals have degraded themselves (and they are correct-thinking). Who will guide us when reality bites? Our current crop of the Best and the Brightest? I think not. And that will not be the end of the damage. International media have been in the bag almost from the beginning. No leadership there. How can media leaders with an obvious agenda be trusted?

The only solution when idealistic hopes fail is paying attention to the facts, to the reality unbiased by prejudice or agendas. Talking policy, history - in order words, taking the long view - instead of promoting cult personality followership will be our salvation. Where is our era´s Edward R. Murrow? Just the facts! No more BS!

cragger 01-27-2009 08:28 PM

Re: Trapped in the Tunnel
 
The Chait pieces are mostly complaints about the J Street lobbying group, set up as as a counter or alternative lobby to those influences grouped under the heading of the "Israel lobby". He does mention the Mearsheimer/Walt book, but only briefly with the assertion that it is sloppy, without getting into any particulars of the book's argument or getting into any counter arguments.

There was discussion of the Mearsheimer/Walt book on at least a couple of B-Heads episodes a while back, one involving Bob Wright and one including Dan Drezner if I recall. The main complaints I recall from the discussions regarded fuzziness of the definition of just what groups and influences, such as political donors, comprised the Israel lobby, and that lumping them together for purposes of the main theses tended to create an impression of a more monolithic and centrally controlled group than exists.

Beyond those complaints about just who or what comprises the Isreal lobby, I have not seen, at least on BHeads, any serious critique of those central themes Francoamerican lists, beyond those commentators whose take might be most succinctly expressed as Isreal good, Palestinians bad.

AemJeff 01-27-2009 08:42 PM

Re: Trapped in the Tunnel
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by cragger (Post 102256)
The Chait pieces are mostly complaints about the J Street lobbying group, set up as as a counter or alternative lobby to those influences grouped under the heading of the "Israel lobby". He does mention the Mearsheimer/Walt book, but only briefly with the assertion that it is sloppy, without getting into any particulars of the book's argument or getting into any counter arguments.

There was discussion of the Mearsheimer/Walt book on at least a couple of B-Heads episodes a while back, one involving Bob Wright and one including Dan Drezner if I recall. The main complaints I recall from the discussions regarded fuzziness of the definition of just what groups and influences, such as political donors, comprised the Israel lobby, and that lumping them together for purposes of the main theses tended to create an impression of a more monolithic and centrally controlled group than exists.

Beyond those complaints about just who or what comprises the Isreal lobby, I have not seen, at least on BHeads, any serious critique of those central themes Francoamerican lists, beyond those commentators whose take might be most succinctly expressed as Isreal good, Palestinians bad.

I don't see Chait's pieces as direct answers to Franco's questions. I enjoyed his critique analogizing Walt/Mearsheimer's article to The Bell Curve. I'm not necessarily convinced by that argument, but I think it was well made.

Chait's broader point about the evident symmetry at the poles of this debate is admittedly my particular hobbyhorse.

nikkibong 01-27-2009 08:52 PM

Re: Trapped in the Tunnel
 
Why the collective obsession with who replaces Bill Kristol? Does it matter that much? I'm seeing stuff all over the internets about it! Or, to put it differently: does anyone get all that excersized about what Bob Herbert has to say twice a week?

Tell Bob Wright, Jon Fine and the rest of the Death of Media crowd that the NYT sure seems like an important media organ! I, for one, don't care all that much who gets some of Pinch Sulzberger's precious real estate. (And I'm not referring to the for-sale NYT building.)

bjkeefe 01-27-2009 09:38 PM

Re: Trapped in the Tunnel
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by nikkibong (Post 102259)
Why the collective obsession with who replaces Bill Kristol?

As you probably know, the NYT's op-ed page is the single most prestigious location for opinion journalism. Like it or not, like its regulars or not, it just is.

So ...

Quote:

Does it matter that much?
Yes. There's the bully pulpit aspect and there's the symbolism of the choice. It's analogous to who gets picked to be a vice presidential running mate, in a lot of ways.

Quote:

I'm seeing stuff all over the internets about it!
Yes. It's a good excuse to have another round in the culture wars. It's also got a lot of a parlor game element to it. Or maybe the Hot Stove League is a better way to put it -- long-time fans arguing about draft picks and who the most desirable free agents are.

And, for those who grew up reading the Times, it matters in the way, say, lapsed Catholics still care about papal antics. Even if we've moved on, we'd still like the old institution to be the best that it can be.

rcocean 01-27-2009 11:04 PM

Re: Trapped in the Tunnel
 
Lets be clear about Bill Kristol. Dan is wrong. Kristol didn't fail because: "he didn't spend enough time on his column". He failed because he's predictable and mediocre. Anyone whose read him at the Weekly Standard knows that. His only genius consists of networking and getting rich men like Murdoch and Sulzberger to hire him.

So, Kristol never should have been hired - but that goes for the rest of them. The NYT Op-ed page is a joke. Dowd is entertaining but a clown, Rich is a silly, lightweight former movie critic, Herbert is a boring token, and Krugman and Friedman are simply pompous bores spouting the conventional wisdom.

Want someone interesting to replace Kristol? Hire Mickey Kaus.

bjkeefe 01-27-2009 11:22 PM

Re: Trapped in the Tunnel
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by rcocean (Post 102263)
Want someone interesting to replace Kristol? Hire Mickey Kaus.

Be honest, rc. You really wanted to say "Ann Althouse."

[Added] And don't miss the link Uncle Eb offered, in the General forum.

nikkibong 01-27-2009 11:42 PM

Re: Trapped in the Tunnel
 
well in that case may i suggest Muammar Qaddafi . . .?

rcocean 01-28-2009 12:40 AM

Re: Trapped in the Tunnel
 
Kaus is provocative and unpredictable. His ideas make enemies. He even questions (rightly) others' manhood. He's the anti-Herbert the NYT needs.

bjkeefe 01-28-2009 12:58 AM

Re: Trapped in the Tunnel
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by rcocean (Post 102270)
Kaus is provocative and unpredictable. His ideas make enemies. He even questions (rightly) others' manhood. He's the anti-Herbert the NYT needs.

He'd be easy fodder for bloggers, sure, so there is that. But given how many other people who exist only to say provocative crap and how many other venues we have that supply this, I think the Times could make a much better selection.

Besides, when was the last time Mickey put together 750 words in one place on one topic? I admit I haven't looked at kausfiles in a while, but unless he's drastically changed his style lately, I'm unconvinced he is capable of more than a paragraph at a time.

I read somewhere a proposal of Andrew Bacevich for the slot. What do you think of that? He seems like a pretty out-of-the-box kind of thinker, and has a better recent track record for writing essays.

Francoamerican 01-28-2009 04:09 AM

Re: Israel Lobby One More time
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by pampl (Post 102248)
I'm probably being repetitive here but the US has been pro-Israel since before the state itself existed, then was the first to recognize it. There hasn't been any sort of abrupt pro-Israel shift caused by the relatively recent creation of any political entities.

Are you sure that the US was the first country to recognize Israel? I seem to remember that France and Britain were the first.

In any case, the US sided against Israel (and Britain and France) in the Suez crisis of 1956, and did not become the leading supplier of armaments to Israel until after 1967. Believe it or not, France was the leading supplier before that.

There is also some evidence that the professionals in the State Department have never been passionately pro-Israel...no doubt because they are all nasty, vicious anti-semites....

DenvilleSteve 01-28-2009 05:34 AM

Re: Trapped in the Tunnel
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by rcocean (Post 102263)
The NYT Op-ed page is a joke. Dowd is entertaining but a clown, Rich is a silly, lightweight former movie critic, Herbert is a boring token, and Krugman and Friedman are simply pompous bores spouting the conventional wisdom.

Want someone interesting to replace Kristol? Hire Mickey Kaus.

... or reprint the WSJ editorials. excluding their advocacy of Israel, open borders and downplaying of federal deficit spending, the WSJ editorial page is arguably the best public policy writing on the planet.

DenvilleSteve 01-28-2009 05:50 AM

Re: Israel Lobby One More time
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Francoamerican (Post 102283)
Are you sure that the US was the first country to recognize Israel? I seem to remember that France and Britain were the first.

The David McCullough book on Truman has an excellent account of what happened. Sec of State Marshall opposed recognition because Israel would not declare its borders. Clark Clifford advocated for it based solely on the domestic political advantages.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Francoamerican (Post 102283)
In any case, the US sided against Israel (and Britain and France) in the Suez crisis of 1956, and did not become the leading supplier of armaments to Israel until after 1967. Believe it or not, France was the leading supplier before that.

exactly right. Israel wins the SDW against the combined Arab states w/o American aid. Yet now it needs $billions annually from America to fend off people throwing rocks.

The American aid is needed to pay for the occupation of the West Bank and blockade of Gaza.

DenvilleSteve 01-28-2009 06:06 AM

Re: Trapped in the Tunnel
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Michael (Post 102255)
The pumping, pumping of Barack Obama is like nothing seen since the era before the last great war. A second coming. A whole generation of correct-thinking intellectuals have degraded themselves (and they are correct-thinking). Who will guide us when reality bites? Our current crop of the Best and the Brightest? I think not. And that will not be the end of the damage. International media have been in the bag almost from the beginning. No leadership there. How can media leaders with an obvious agenda be trusted?

The only solution when idealistic hopes fail is paying attention to the facts, to the reality unbiased by prejudice or agendas. Talking policy, history - in order words, taking the long view - instead of promoting cult personality followership will be our salvation. Where is our era´s Edward R. Murrow? Just the facts! No more BS!

I dont think the US federal government can and should survive intact. It is too big of a prize for the media/academia/government complex to resist coveting. It is an absolute power corrupts absolutely kind of thing. It is very important that Liberty results from the coming financial meltdown.

pampl 01-28-2009 09:40 AM

Re: Israel Lobby One More time
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Francoamerican (Post 102283)
Are you sure that the US was the first country to recognize Israel? I seem to remember that France and Britain were the first.

In any case, the US sided against Israel (and Britain and France) in the Suez crisis of 1956, and did not become the leading supplier of armaments to Israel until after 1967. Believe it or not, France was the leading supplier before that.

There is also some evidence that the professionals in the State Department have never been passionately pro-Israel...no doubt because they are all nasty, vicious anti-semites....

Nope, US was first to extend de facto recognition and the USSR was the first to extend de jure. Googling around, it looks like France took 6 months and Britain 8.

The US isn't and wasn't completely unconditionally supportive of Israel; it did take the risk of a broader war with the USSR in that case though. I don't have any beef with claims about other nations' sympathies towards Israel, assuming at least that you aren't leading up to a grand conclusion showing that a proto-AIPAC fled from France to the US in 67 and brought BFF-of-Israel status along with it.

As I understand it, the State Department is generally more realistic and less idealistic than is the American public. They might also all be anti-semites but I am as of yet unaware of any such predilection.
Quote:

Originally Posted by DenvilleSteve (Post 102287)
The David McCullough book on Truman has an excellent account of what happened. Sec of State Marshall opposed recognition because Israel would not declare its borders. Clark Clifford advocated for it based solely on the domestic political advantages.

The point is that support brought domestic political advantage. I don't think that's an accurate characterization of Clifford's arguments, though, which spanned a pretty broad range, including "a moral obligation to oppose discrimination as that inflicted on the Jewish people. Alarmingly, it is reappearing in the Communist-controlled Eastern Europe. Jews must have their homeland"

Francoamerican 01-28-2009 10:16 AM

Re: Israel Lobby One More time
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by pampl (Post 102294)
As I understand it, the State Department is generally more realistic and less idealistic than is the American public. They might also all be anti-semites but I am as of yet unaware of any such predilection.

I was being ironic...although the old East Coast wasps who used to run the State Department were hardly philosemitic.

rcocean 01-28-2009 11:19 AM

Re: Trapped in the Tunnel
 
Andrew Bacevich -an excellent suggestion.

Francoamerican 01-28-2009 02:12 PM

Re: Trapped in the Tunnel
 
From the the most recent issue of the London Review of Books

Israel’s Lies
Henry Siegman
Western governments and most of the Western media have accepted a number of Israeli claims justifying the military assault on Gaza: that Hamas consistently violated the six-month truce that Israel observed and then refused to extend it; that Israel therefore had no choice but to destroy Hamas’s capacity to launch missiles into Israeli towns; that Hamas is a terrorist organisation, part of a global jihadi network; and that Israel has acted not only in its own defence but on behalf of an international struggle by Western democracies against this network.

I am not aware of a single major American newspaper, radio station or TV channel whose coverage of the assault on Gaza questions this version of events. Criticism of Israel’s actions, if any (and there has been none from the Bush administration), has focused instead on whether the IDF’s carnage is proportional to the threat it sought to counter, and whether it is taking adequate measures to prevent civilian casualties.

Middle East peacemaking has been smothered in deceptive euphemisms, so let me state bluntly that each of these claims is a lie. Israel, not Hamas, violated the truce: Hamas undertook to stop firing rockets into Israel; in return, Israel was to ease its throttlehold on Gaza. In fact, during the truce, it tightened it further. This was confirmed not only by every neutral international observer and NGO on the scene but by Brigadier General (Res.) Shmuel Zakai, a former commander of the IDF’s Gaza Division. In an interview in Ha’aretz on 22 December, he accused Israel’s government of having made a ‘central error’ during the tahdiyeh, the six-month period of relative truce, by failing ‘to take advantage of the calm to improve, rather than markedly worsen, the economic plight of the Palestinians of the Strip . . . When you create a tahdiyeh, and the economic pressure on the Strip continues,’ General Zakai said, ‘it is obvious that Hamas will try to reach an improved tahdiyeh, and that their way to achieve this is resumed Qassam fire . . . You cannot just land blows, leave the Palestinians in Gaza in the economic distress they’re in, and expect that Hamas will just sit around and do nothing.’

To read the rest:

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v31/n02/sieg01_.html

DenvilleSteve 01-28-2009 02:43 PM

Re: Trapped in the Tunnel
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Francoamerican (Post 102331)
From the the most recent issue of the London Review of Books
You cannot just land blows, leave the Palestinians in Gaza in the economic distress they’re in, and expect that Hamas will just sit around and do nothing.’
http://www.lrb.co.uk/v31/n02/sieg01_.html

all true, but in the end Israel needs land to defend itself against increasingly populated and unstable bordering arab states. Why do the Europeans insist that Israel accept the presence of non Jews within its own country and the disputed territories?

I think Israel is very foolish to involve the US in its fight. It should have moved the Gaza Palestinians into the Sinaii when it controlled it after the 67 war. Now they will have Obama whining to them for the next 4 years to accept two unstable mini states right on its borders.

Francoamerican 01-29-2009 08:17 AM

Re: Trapped in the Tunnel
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by DenvilleSteve (Post 102334)
all true, but in the end Israel needs land to defend itself against increasingly populated and unstable bordering arab states. Why do the Europeans insist that Israel accept the presence of non Jews within its own country and the disputed territories?

I think Israel is very foolish to involve the US in its fight. It should have moved the Gaza Palestinians into the Sinaii when it controlled it after the 67 war. Now they will have Obama whining to them for the next 4 years to accept two unstable mini states right on its borders.

It is difficult for me to answer your question about the "Europeans" (there is considerably more diversity of opinion about the conflict in Europe that in the US). Did you read the entire article?

The first sentence of your second paragraph is odd to say the least. The foolishness is all on the side of the US government, which has never been an honest, impartial mediator in the conflict. Israel, on the contrary, has been quite adept at involving one foolish American administration after another to support all its policies. I would say they are the true masters of Realpolitik.

bjkeefe 01-29-2009 11:20 PM

Re: Trapped in the Tunnel
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by DenvilleSteve (Post 102286)
... the WSJ editorial page is arguably the best public policy writing on the planet.

Today's WSJ features columns by Karl Rove (complaining about the way Obama is staffing the White House), John Yoo (bemoaning the end of torture), and Rush Limbaugh (giving his prescription for fixing the economy).

Would you care to retract your statement?

AemJeff 01-29-2009 11:26 PM

Re: Trapped in the Tunnel
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 102429)
Today's WSJ features columns by Karl Rove (complaining about the way Obama is staffing the White House), John Yoo (bemoaning the end of torture), and Rush Limbaugh (giving his prescription for fixing the economy).

Would you care to retract your statement?

Pure flamebait. Even Steve doesn't believe that.

bjkeefe 01-30-2009 05:46 AM

Re: Trapped in the Tunnel
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by AemJeff (Post 102430)
Pure flamebait. Even Steve doesn't believe that.

I would not like to bet on that, but it's nice to think so.

ledocs 01-31-2009 04:18 AM

Re: Trapped in the Tunnel
 
Well, this was very boring and disappointing.

On the matter of Walt-Mearsheimer, once again, why did Drezner not give a single example of peer-reviewed articles in a comparably charged debate to that of US policy towards Israel then paving the way for the author(s) of such articles to engage more directly in public controversy? Drezner asserts that someone could write rigorous social science about the putative Israel lobby in the US, but he gave us literally no evidence to suggest that this is the case. It’s not obvious to me that it is the case, whereas it is obvious to me that there is a substantial amount of truth to the Walt-Mearsheimer thesis. Nevertheless, I am prepared to accept as true that the W-M book is bad from the point of view of rigorous social science, that it contains many undemonstrated assertions. There is no difference between Drezner and Farrell on this point, either. OK, so you guys are political scientists, please cite an analogous case. Secondly, it is not clear to me that this hypothetical rigorous social science would even get published in one of the top peer-reviewed journals in American social science. There is a pretense here that these journals would be immune to the pressures exerted by the putative Israel lobby. That’s just total crap. It’s laughable. But, as I say, let’s hear about the examples that show just how courageous the editors of these journals are, and how courageous the authors of these hypothetically analogous rigorous articles are. I’m not a poltiical scientist, I have read very few books in political science, so I’m not asking idle rhetorical questions.

Just as an obvious example, how could one go about proving empirically what precise influence the Zionist leanings, or Likud leanings, whatever, of Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, and Eliot Abrams, and of their many Jewish friends and allies in the various American elites, had in encouraging the invasion of Iraq? Is there a paper trail about this? If there is, how could a researcher get to it? This is an example. My impression is that Walt-Mearsheimer explictly avoided making any direct case about influence of the putative Israel lobby upon the invasion of Iraq. Nevertheless, the case is instructive as to the general question of how one would go about writing this hypothetical rigorous social science.

Also, Drezner and Farrell should have given credit to Mickey Kaus for pointing out on bloggingheads, well before this Chait article, that the taboo in the media upon talking about a hypothetical Israel lobby had subsided, and that Joe Klein had paved the way for demonstrating the weakening of the taboo in “Newsweek.”

In conclusion, I have liked both of these guys on bloggingheads, but the more I think about this particular diavlog, the more worked up I get about how disappointing this discussion of Walt-Mearsheimer was. They come off as unreflective, self-satisfied academics. Another example, they just give a throwaway line about the ongoing debate about whether US policy towards Israel is in US interests or not. At least put some flesh on the bones of this ongoing debate, Christ almighty. How can these same people talk about encouraging courage in academic discourse, or the public discourse of academics, and then come out with meaningless, bland statements of this kind? I will give some grudging credit to Farrell for acknowledging that even a rigorously argued social scientific study that demonstrated influence of a Jewish lobby upon US policy towards Israel would probably arouse substantial and venomous attack. And it is precisely for this reason that I am not at all sure that a prestigious academic journal would publish the article.

Francoamerican 01-31-2009 06:39 AM

Re: Trapped in the Tunnel
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by ledocs (Post 102642)
...it is not clear to me that this hypothetical rigorous social science would even get published in one of the top peer-reviewed journals in American social science. There is a pretense here that these journals would be immune to the pressures exerted by the putative Israel lobby. That’s just total crap. It’s laughable. But, as I say, let’s hear about the examples that show just how courageous the editors of these journals are, and how courageous the authors of these hypothetically analogous rigorous articles are.

This is an excellent point. The objectivity of the "social sciences" is one of those childish and fervently held convictions that only certain American academics still entertain. Like the "objectivity" of newspapers--a view which no one with the equivalent of a college education holds in Europe. One cannot talk about foreign policy, or about any other serious subject in the social sciences, without having a point of view, informed by history, philosophical beliefs and ---all too often--- personal prejudice. Take one of the key concepts of the "science" of international relations--the national interest: how could one possibly discuss the national interest of a country of which one is a citizen without being a partisan?

Quote:

Originally Posted by ledocs (Post 102642)
...Just as an obvious example, how could one go about proving empirically what precise influence the Zionist leanings, or Likud leanings, whatever, of Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, and Eliot Abrams, and of their many Jewish friends and allies in the various American elites, had in encouraging the invasion of Iraq? Is there a paper trail about this? If there is, how could a researcher get to it? This is an example. My impression is that Walt-Mearsheimer explictly avoided making any direct case about influence of the putative Israel lobby upon the invasion of Iraq. Nevertheless, the case is instructive as to the general question of how one would go about writing this hypothetical rigorous social science.

Another good point. Some social scientists seem to believe that if you accumulate enough "evidence" the facts will speak for themselves without interpretation of any kind. Balderdash.

Quote:

Originally Posted by ledocs (Post 102642)
.They come off as unreflective, self-satisfied academics.

Bingo. It is so much easier to talk at length about the career prospects of colleagues---as if a professor at Harvard or Chicago could go in any direction but down, or up to Tufts perhaps?


Quote:

Originally Posted by ledocs (Post 102642)
... Another example, they just give a throwaway line about the ongoing debate about whether US policy towards Israel is in US interests or not. At least put some flesh on the bones of this ongoing debate, Christ almighty. How can these same people talk about encouraging courage in academic discourse, or the public discourse of academics, and then come out with meaningless, bland statements of this kind? I will give some grudging credit to Farrell for acknowledging that even a rigorously argued social scientific study that demonstrated influence of a Jewish lobby upon US policy towards Israel would probably arouse substantial and venomous attack. And it is precisely for this reason that I am not at all sure that a prestigious academic journal would publish the article.

Precisely: academics pride themselves on their objectivity up to the moment when they have to take a public stand. Then they suddenly begin worrying about their careers or their skins. What Montaigne said of himself, that he would defend his opinions courageously, jusqu'au feu exclusivement, is the general rule of academic careerists. But the only "fire" most of them will ever face--those who have tenure at any rate---is the smoldering contempt of their colleagues.


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