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apple 11-26-2011 02:22 PM

Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by thouartgob (Post 232711)
Also charges made my previous members of AIPAC or present members or only from a spokesman ?

You were accusing the organization, so it's got to be someone speaking for the organization, either a spokesperson or someone in a leadership position. If previous members counted, I'd be able to say that the US government considers Israel to be an Apartheid state, because of the statements of the peanut farmer.

Quote:

Originally Posted by thouartgob (Post 232711)
in trying to convince you that someone, who doesn't believe what you believe when it comes to Israel, isn't anti-semitic.

I have never claimed that all, or even most, people who criticize or hate Israel are anti-Semites, except perhaps in your imagination.

stephanie 11-26-2011 03:02 PM

Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ocean (Post 232714)
I listened to that segment of the diavlog again.

I think the whole thing gets started by Glenn's way of phrasing the question which is here. Given that he starts out by referencing a naive viewer (him, he then says) who would look at what goes on and assumes that it's the result of the influence of the American Jewish community on our policy. It's that statement that gets Walter off on the whole argument over whether it's the Jewish community or other factors which are to blame.

And, sure, I agree that the reason this triggers a response as much as it does is because there's a lot of suspicion about why people frame it in that way and in the motives or underlying (even unconscious) assumptions of people who do. I didn't think Walter was suggesting that was the case for Glenn, but simply that that was a mistaken way to look at it and pushed by those who should know better (and those people were the ones Walter was suggesting may be anti-semitic). But I don't think the context that led to Walter's response is a specialized one, although it may well be a cultural one.

Quote:

Glenn correctly brings up (although he doesn't explain it in so many words), that it may be entities like AIPAC that influence such policy.
Yes, and I see this as a better way (though still an incomplete one, as if it were just AIPAC I don't think you'd have the result we do) as framing the issue. And a quite different one, again, than the one Walter objected to more strongly, even though he still disagrees with this one, as you note. When the discussion turns to AIPAC he compares it with other PACs (like the NRA) which is right -- it's different than claiming that American policy is solely due to the Jews or some such, which has much different connotations.

Quote:

My interpretation of the above is that Walter gives AIPAC the role of "marking" or labeling candidates only, but he doesn't seem to consider the role of that labeling as influence on policy. Furthermore, when he points out that gentiles support Israel "for complex reasons" he doesn't advance the discussion.
They are talking about a limited topic at that point. I don't think there's any reason to think Walter couldn't or wouldn't go into more detail about what he sees the complex reasons to be. (That's something I'm interested in and have tried to be open in considering myself.) Indeed, I think that might be something a longer discussion between them would address. (I don't think propaganda attributable to AIPAC is likely to be a strong explanation, although obviously there's been a telling of the story from a multiplicity of sources in the US that inclines non Jewish Americans to identify more with Israel. And in my experience (which is, I suppose, not all that great), Glenn's response that shows an identification with the Palestinians is relatively common in the African-American community these days.)

Quote:

Then the antisemitism part starts. Walter states, first, "blaming" Jews for what American gentiles believe isn't antisemitism, but it's wrong and it's immoral. Then he introduces the concept of "latent anti-semitism". Then there's a brief mention about W&M and Walter clearly states that their position is antisemitic.
I had a slightly different take on this. Walter said what you note above -- basically that the willingness to believe that it's all the Jews, despite the evidence, is a sign of latent anti-semitism. Glenn pushed back saying that he doesn't disagree if it is wrong, but what does Walter think about W&M? Now, there's a simple way that Walter could have responded -- he could have said that contrary to how it was sometimes reported W&M's article (I haven't read the book) did not simply explain things as the influence of "the Jews," as their "Israel Lobby" includes other forces, such as Christian Zionism, and notes that pressure from Jewish groups is not limited to one policy view as represented by AIPAC. (There's still a real problem in their analysis, IMO.) However, it seems that Walter's views have hardened re Mearsheimer, perhaps due to this recent book that was recommended or something more, I don't know. Therefore, he merely evaded the direct question and said the article was silly and referenced his prior review.

I thought Glenn's raising of the question as to why Americans on average interpret the issue and identify differently than he does, so strongly, was the key question (here) and one worth discussion. However, clearly, most Americans don't feel all that strongly about the issue, which is why the smaller number who do tend to drive the debate. That the mild sentiment that exists even among those who don't care much tends to be tilted differently in the US than many other places is relevant, though, and I think giving the power there to AIPAC provides it with rather unrealistic powers.

Similarly, I think the NRA has an influence on US policy, but that there's a decent sized number of Americans who are sympathetic to many of the basic messages on which the gun rights argument relies can't be attributed to NRA's amazing marketing skills. There's something more. If it's just that damned NRA getting Americans to think stupid things (or AIPAC or the Jews forcing the American people to go against their own interests), the analysis is implausible, such that it's hard to see how people could think that's all it is. Add to that the background to the idea of an ethnic group turning US policy against US interests and the history of those kinds of arguments re Jews in particular, and I continue to think Walter's comments were not at all unreasonable and can't be compared with people who respond to any suggestion that Israel is ever imperfect with accusations that one is anti-semitic or wants Israel destroyed.

stephanie 11-26-2011 03:23 PM

Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ocean (Post 232714)
If one doesn't take that in consideration, his position in this diavlog doesn't stand alone. It doesn't address Glenn's questions, and it has the feeling of an attempt to prevent an open discussion by threat of being called a bigot. This latter is what Walter should be careful not to do if he wants to bring light to the topic.

To focus on this specifically--

I don't think it's quite fair to blame Walter for not addressing Glenn's questions. Glenn, unfortunately, started out with the "it's the Jews" explanation, and Walter, IMO understandably, felt compelled to address that claim, however tentatively stated, because of the context. I think the insistence by some -- and this is part of the overarching debate, IMO -- that the US policy must be driven by Jews is sufficiently prominent and problematic that it needs to be addressed. I think this is part of what J-Street is doing with its surveys of Jewish opinion, although another part, of course, is to counter AIPAC's claim to speak for all Jews. So once Glenn brought up that angle, the discussion focused on that, and not the more straightforward question "why are Americans on average pro Israel and not pro Palestinian"? Why does the I/P question seem to have an effect on US politics that is so dramatic -- if 20%, like Walter said (that seems too high to me, but I haven't researched it), a number that has no connection to the Jewish population.

But more generally, I do think that we need to be able to have an open discussion of the issue including pointing out when certain arguments seem to have a connection to historical anti-Jewish arguments in order to understand a policy that seems driven by many things, not simply a disagreement between foreign policy realists on either sides. Similarly, I think it's okay -- even if I often think a misunderstanding -- for people to note that there may be colonialist or "racist" elements to the failure of many Americans to identify as much with the plight of the Palestinians. I do not in fact think this is a compelling explanation, but given that we are talking about emotional reactions and identification issues, I don't think bringing up such concerns or exploring them is an effort to silence.

And on the effort to silence issue, neither Walter nor Glenn is a politician, where these kinds of accusations (or simply being accused of being anti Israel) is a big problem. Both are prominent professors at left-leaning schools. In that environment (I know from having gone to a couple that would be so classed, neither of which is as far left as Brown, where Glenn is, IMO), Glenn's views are not uncommon or dangerous. They are mainstream, whereas admitting sympathy for AIPAC likely would not be. Which is not to say that one is silenced if one does -- the claims by the right to be silenced in such environments also struck me as a gross overstatement. (Indeed, the complaints that it's unfair tactics to note potential anti-semitism strike me as not unlike the overwrought complaints about being called racist in other contexts.)

rcocean 11-26-2011 03:43 PM

Looks like I was wrong. Here's the CBS poll numbers
 
CBS News Poll. Nov. 6-10, 2011.

"Do you consider Israel an ally of the United States, friendly but not an ally, unfriendly, or an enemy of the United States?"

An ally - 41%
Friendly but not an ally - 34%
Unfriendly - 7%
An enemy - 5%
Unsure - 13%

So 59% don't consider Israel an ally and 12% think they're the enemy or "unfriendly".

Somewhat shocking.

stephanie 11-26-2011 03:59 PM

Re: Looks like I was wrong. Here's the CBS poll numbers
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by rcocean (Post 232726)
Somewhat shocking.

I don't think that's surprising. I skimmed the poll and it's missing strength of opinion type questions (at least I didn't find any) that would be important.

Edit: it is interesting and basically denial that so many people don't see Israel as an ally, though. It suggests a lack of awareness about how the US-Israel relationship is understand by others. I wonder what the comparable answers are for other countries, although NATO might make the ally thing more clear.

However, in various polls compare sympathy for Israel vs. the Palestinians and you get a marked difference, even with a large undecided/neither contingent and less than a majority for Israel.

Also, with both numbers being smaller than "right balance" or "unsure," a lot more people (20% vs. 5%) complain that Obama is favoring the Palestinians too much vs. Israel, which given US policy is striking. (This one I do think has as much to do with Fox/political rhetoric as anything, though.)

Here's a cite with a bunch of poll questions.

rcocean 11-26-2011 04:14 PM

Poll Numbers Israel vs. Palestinians
 
Per Gallup:

More with Israel - 63%
More with Palestinians - 17%
Don't know - 20%

So Mead's 3-1 statement is correct although somewhat misleading. Basically, 37% of Americans either don't care or favor the Palestinians.

rcocean 11-26-2011 04:20 PM

Re: Looks like I was wrong. Here's the CBS poll numbers
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by stephanie (Post 232728)
I don't think that's surprising. I skimmed the poll and it's missing strength of opinion type questions (at least I didn't find any) that would be important.

Edit: it is interesting and basically denial that so many people don't see Israel as an ally, though. It suggests a lack of awareness about how the US-Israel relationship is understand by others. I wonder what the comparable answers are for other countries, although NATO might make the ally thing more clear.

However, in various polls compare sympathy for Israel vs. the Palestinians and you get a marked difference, even with a large undecided/neither contingent and less than a majority for Israel.

Also, with both numbers being smaller than "right balance" or "unsure," a lot more people (20% vs. 5%) complain that Obama is favoring the Palestinians too much vs. Israel, which given US policy is striking. (This one I do think has as much to do with Fox/political rhetoric as anything, though.)

Here's a cite with a bunch of poll questions.

Whoops! - didn't see your post till I posted mine on Gallup's poll numbers Palestinians Vs. Israel. I'd agree that strength of opinion is necessary.

chiwhisoxx 11-26-2011 10:03 PM

Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)
 
great, great job by BHTV to get WRM on. he's one of the best online writers around right now, and I hope we get to see more of him going forward.

grits-n-gravy 11-26-2011 10:07 PM

Re: Is US decline in the eye of the beholder?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Parallax (Post 232703)
. . .

1. I think by now it should be obvious that American declinism is fad that will be over as soon as US economy returns to full employment. Of the 3 major competitors for US's place as the world's sole super power one imploded in the 90s (Japan), the second will soon cease to exist (EU) and the last one will be in very serious trouble when it experiences its first patch of slow growth (China).

Whenever American exceptionalism is called into question in the popular media the tendency is always dismiss it as a fad. In point of fact, when you read a serious discussion like Wallerstein's The Curve of American Power you realize Walter lays out not an serious argument against American decline but rather how America is trying to manage or slow down its decline. The decision to effectively walk away from nuclear anti-proliferation agreements vis-a-vis India and Australia just tells me how desperate the US is to stave off the inevitable.

Wonderment 11-26-2011 10:20 PM

Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)
 
Quote:

Well, again, we disagree on what Walter said, and I think you are being quite unfair.
Maybe. How do you account for his making such a big fuss about alleged anti-Semitism? No one disputes that if you say Jewish bankers and filmmakers control the world you're an anti-Semite.

r108dos 11-26-2011 10:37 PM

Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)
 
Bravo BHtv! I learned so much from Mead and Glenn.

Ocean 11-26-2011 10:40 PM

Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by stephanie (Post 232725)

I don't think it's quite fair to blame Walter for not addressing Glenn's questions. Glenn, unfortunately, started out with the "it's the Jews" explanation, and Walter, IMO understandably, felt compelled to address that claim, however tentatively stated, because of the context. I think the insistence by some -- and this is part of the overarching debate, IMO -- that the US policy must be driven by Jews is sufficiently prominent and problematic that it needs to be addressed.

My comment is less about blaming and more about making an observation. By now it's clear that we agree that Walter was responding intensely not only to Glenn's questions but to the overarching debate with alleged antisemitic undertones.

I agree that it would be interesting to hear another discussion focusing on this topic only. Perhaps a pro-Palestinian cause Jewish interlocutor would be a good pairing for Walter. Hopefully the implied accusation of antisemitism wouldn't be so easily supported or so potentially threatening.

ledocs 11-27-2011 10:11 AM

Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)
 
Quote:

I agree that it would be interesting to hear another discussion focusing on this topic only. Perhaps a pro-Palestinian cause Jewish interlocutor would be a good pairing for Walter. Hopefully the implied accusation of antisemitism wouldn't be so easily supported or so potentially threatening.
Yes, I agree with this. So Walt does not qualify, he's not Jewish. David Remnick. He would be a coup for bhtv, and he might well be willing to talk to Mead.

There are so many issues here. But, in the end, we have to come back to the analysis in the terms of political science. What are the basic parameters of the "science" within which we can assess the existence of an Israel lobby, its composition, its working, and its influence? One problem is that there is not much legislation that one can examine in order to assess the influence of a lobby in the case of US-Israel policy. In that way, the whole question is different from looking at the NRA or at the banking lobby. Secondly, it is my belief that military strategy and intelligence considerations must be playing a large part in the special relationship between the US and Israel, but many of those considerations are largely secret and rarely talked about with any candor in public. Insofar as they exist, they are largely opaque to the public. So political science is at a disadvantage here, relative to assessing the influence of other lobbies or lobbying organizations.

Mead wants to bring up the entire history of US support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine. But that history, whatever it is, cannot explain the current policy under current conditions, simply because the scarcity of oil and supply-demand conditions for oil were utterly different in the 19th century than they are today. Indeed, they were quite different until some date I cannot specify, but let's say until 1975-1980, some time shorty after Israel's victory in the 1967 war. Glenn's question, a perfectly reasonable one, is how can it be that the US appears to put its greatest interest in the Middle East, namely oil, at risk, by pursuing an Israel policy that does not seem consonant with this principle interest? And the next question is, insofar as there is a mystery to be explained here, does the existence of an Israel lobby, in which Jewish organizations play a large role, help to explain the apparent mystery?

I think we would need to get down to cases in order to assess the influence of AIPAC and related organizations in American politics. We would need to learn about cases in which American congresspeople might have been tempted to stray from AIPAC-approved policies, or might have questioned US financial and military aid to Israel, and subsequently decided not to pursue these avenues because of lobbying pressure from the alleged Israel lobby. We would need to ask the question of why, for example, Barbara Boxer has never assumed, to my knowledge, any position that might be characterized as "anti-Israel," and one could extend this line of questioning to every liberal Jewish congressperson in the US who has existed over the past 40 years. This whole discussion is assuming an atmosphere of unreality. That's because this whole issue is a third rail, it's taboo. Every time a Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama says anything that does not exhibit "unconditional support" for Israel, he gets reeled back into line by something, so what is that something? (And if you don't think that is true, just look at the debate I had with bbbeard about the speech Obama gave at the State Department in May, 2011, I think, a speech that was described breathlessly by some as worldshaking in its historical importance and anamolousness in the history of US policy towards Israel, but which was given an entirely anodyne gloss by none other than Walter Russell Mead.)

The point is, one would need to do a detailed analysis of the financial contributions of pro-Israel Jewish donors, both individual and organized, to American politics. Then one would also need to do a qualitative analysis of the fear imposed upon politicians for straying from the AIPAC-approved line. Then one would have to do a detailed analysis of the Israel lobby's effect upon the American media's portrayal of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. It's a vast subject, fraught with methodological difficulties, not the least of which is that the main policy implications are shrouded in secrecy, media outlets are not going to admit to bowing to pressure, politicians are not going to admit to bowing to pressure, and so on.

But Mead's whole line is subject to the following reductio ad absurdum, which I already hinted at. There are plenty of left-leaning American Jews who think that organized Jews play a large role in influencing American policy towards Israel. Let us suppose that Mead is right about the amount of influence the more hard-line Jews have (an amount which remains to be specified) and that the left-wing Jews are wrong, that we are laboring under some misapprehension about reality. It is still laughable, in my opinion, to assert that these left-wing Jews are not, perhaps, anti-Semitic, but that they are nevertheless "wrong and immoral." No, we're just wrong in that case.

Clearly, one side of this divide in the American Jewish community has the feeling that it is not listened to but that the other side, the "neocon"/ AIPAC side, has the ear of the entire power apparatus in the US. Now, there are two possibilities here. One is that this feeling is wrong. But Mead's own one-man, one-vote analysis of the American Jewish community tells against this interpretation. So the other possibility is that there is an "innocent" explanation for the feeling, namely that there is something else going on in American politics that explains US policy towards Israel, something that has nothing to do with the American Jewish community. And that is quite probable, but it does not answer the question of what American policy towards Israel would be like in the absence of the Israel lobby, and of the Jewish portion of that lobby, on the assumption that such a lobby exists. Put positively, it does not answer the question of the extent of the power and influence exerted by the alleged lobby. Does Mead think that there is no such lobby? Apparently not, because he brought up the NRA analogy. So there is a lobby, and the question is that of the extent of its power and influence over US policy towards Israel.

I should say, by the way, that I liked this dv in its entirety, I agree that it would be good to see and hear more from Mead. I just get the feeling that he's off the deep end on this anti-Semitism thing, for whatever reason.

Ocean 11-27-2011 11:06 AM

Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by ledocs (Post 232765)
[...]

Secondly, it is my belief that military strategy and intelligence considerations must be playing a large part in the special relationship between the US and Israel, but many of those considerations are largely secret and rarely talked about with any candor in public. Insofar as they exist, they are largely opaque to the public.

[...]

Glenn's question, a perfectly reasonable one, is how can it be that the US appears to put its greatest interest in the Middle East, namely oil, at risk, by pursuing an Israel policy that does not seem consonant with this principle interest? And the next question is, insofar as there is a mystery to be explained here, does the existence of an Israel lobby, in which Jewish organizations play a large role, help to explain the apparent mystery?

Correct, IMO.

It's always seemed to me that the US-Israel relationship is a marriage of convenience, which at times goes really sour. Each party is trying to get the most out of the deal. Sometimes they manage their mutual interests well, but sometimes they clash. But that's kept behind their bedroom doors.

To make things more difficult, the extended family participates in the dynamics of the marriage quite a bit. There are the pro-Israel hawks Jewish and non-Jewish Americans. There are the pro-Israel but Palestine sensitive Jewish and non-Jewish Americans. There are the lobbying and activist groups. Political figures whose primary interest is to maintain a steady flow of support for their campaigns. Arab countries and their influence. Oil power, inside and outside the US. International community. Leftovers of the Western versus pro-Soviet tensions. And god knows what else.

Even if we don't have access to the secret aspects of the equation, which are mostly quantitative aspects (how much influence is exerted by each of those), at least we could have a discussion about the multiple players and a rough estimate about their influence.


Quote:

[...]

So the other possibility is that there is an "innocent" explanation for the feeling, namely that there is something else going on in American politics that explains US policy towards Israel, something that has nothing to do with the American Jewish community. And that is quite probable, but it does not answer the question of what American policy towards Israel would be like in the absence of the Israel lobby, and of the Jewish portion of that lobby, on the assumption that such a lobby exists. Put positively, it does not answer the question of the extent of the power and influence exerted by the alleged lobby. [...]
Yes, again, the something else that explains what's going on as above.


Quote:

I just get the feeling that he's off the deep end on this anti-Semitism thing, for whatever reason.
Yes, me too.

kezboard 11-27-2011 01:41 PM

Re: Why Don't we just tax stupidity?
 
Isn't that kind of what the lottery is?

stephanie 11-27-2011 04:56 PM

Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by ledocs (Post 232765)
Glenn's question, a perfectly reasonable one, is how can it be that the US appears to put its greatest interest in the Middle East, namely oil, at risk, by pursuing an Israel policy that does not seem consonant with this principle interest? And the next question is, insofar as there is a mystery to be explained here, does the existence of an Israel lobby, in which Jewish organizations play a large role, help to explain the apparent mystery?

I agree that this would be an interesting topic to discuss, but I'm not entirely sure what the best approach would be. Right now I'm thinking of two separate diavlogs.

One would be basically what the W&M book should have been (I've only read the article and discussions of the book, admittedly). Basically, it would be between two people who could both discuss foreign policy from a realist POV and political science relating to PACs, how policy is formed, how public opinion is formed and effects policy and could discuss these kinds of topics more broadly than I/P. For example, talk about other issues in which internal views or PACs influenced policy. A problem with the W&M article was that they didn't seem competent to or at least didn't really get into the mechanics of how the Lobby worked, how it interacted with US opinion more broadly. Also, of course, although you'd need people who could talk about what realism would demand in the way of policy, it's important to consider that reasons other than a Lobby lead to the US not acting that way. For example, the Cold War's effect on policy and theories other than realism and how they affected policy. I am less convinced than Glenn that US policy on the whole (as opposed to current insanities re Congress and Netanyahu and the apparent terror at criticizing Israel which seems new to me) is essentially irrational and can only be explained by something other than US interests. I don't think the oil point is compelling. However, I'd be open to a good discussion.

The second is the more psychological question of US attitudes toward Israel and the Palestinians (and perhaps other world issues/countries), how they've changed over time, and why. What interests me here is Glenn's statement of his own views which show not just a dispassionate consideration of the I/P problem and view that the Palestinians are in the right on various points, but a broad-based identity with them that leads to a much more strongly held position than people often have wrt conflicts in other countries (at least in the US). I think Glenn's position is the reverse of how many people in the US feel about the Israelis, although I think the majority of people don't care that much about either side. I also don't think it's hard to see why this is, in part due to positive propanganda and personal experience with people, but also for many other reasons, mostly relating to the US being a military power and having various experiences with terrorism, although it's also related to the "the Israelis seem like us" thing.

What interests me is simply this identification and how it works. I think that changes how people react away from a "realism" kind of approach and the dynamic of discussions of the issue in a bunch of ways.

Quote:

Every time a Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama says anything that does not exhibit "unconditional support" for Israel, he gets reeled back into line by something, so what is that something? (And if you don't think that is true, just look at the debate I had with bbbeard about the speech Obama gave at the State Department in May, 2011, I think, a speech that was described breathlessly by some as worldshaking in its historical importance and anamolousness in the history of US policy towards Israel, but which was given an entirely anodyne gloss by none other than Walter Russell Mead.)
I could be wrong, but I see the dynamic you are talking about as something new and something different than the general pro-Israel POV of our elected officials. I think the latter can be explained by the fact that there's nothing to be gained on the one side and a lot on the other, and that most people don't care (circumstances in which PACs can be quite powerful and in many cases AIPAC is, IMO). But the insane reaction to Obama's speech (also defended by Israel hawk Jeffrey Goldberg, and that he's usually defined as such is why I brought him up then) seems new. I'd like to understand that aspect of it better, and I don't think assuming it's just AIPAC does that -- it ignores how intensely felt the attitude is among a much broader group. It also ignores how it's now being raised as an issue by the right mainly to court non-Jews. (Some Jews too, sure, but it's given too much play for that to be the reason.) For example, I'm hearing about slights to Israel all the time these days from FOX listeners who never cared at all about Israel in the past. There's something going on beyond AIPAC being the most powerful PAC ever.

(And I feel compelled to note again that given the way Glenn brought up the issue and the way I've heard people on the left talk about the issue, I don't think Walter is so wrong on the anti-semitism thing, which I think he brought up more carefully than he is being given credit for and did not apply to Glenn. I simply didn't interpret him to be saying, as some of you seem to think, that noting the power of AIPAC -- even if it's not actually the most powerful PAC ever -- was wrong and immoral. He was reacting to Glenn's more broadbased comment at the beginning. And one objection to people attributing the weirdo views on Israel to powerful Jews is that it seems to conflate all Jews as having the same views, when obviously many Jews -- as Walter noted -- are to the left of the average American, don't care any more than the average American, or are involved with groups that take much more balanced and criticial of Israel views, from J Street to various peace groups. And another objection -- speaking as a gentile -- is that that explanation seems to assume that non-Jews are just reacting to propaganda and not forming their beliefs with as much reason and cause as Jews do. Simply saying AIPAC is powerful or has a powerful influence on our politicians doesn't contradict that, so I don't think Walter's criticism was meant so broadly. Claiming, however, that the reason the US doesn't act like Glenn would prefer is simply AIPAC or "powerful Jews" or a Jewish lobby (not what W&M said but how many seem to talk about it) does seem to me to be wrong or at least a grossly incomplete explanation.)

chiwhisoxx 11-27-2011 05:24 PM

Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)
 
I think you make an important point, and one that bears repeating. the way I've always thought about it: the israel lobby was a book about domestic united states politics (lobbying, public opinion, etc.) written by 2 international relations scholars. this seems to have led to a lot of problems.

ledocs 11-27-2011 06:11 PM

Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)
 
Stephanie, if oil is not a compelling US interest in the Middle East, what the hell would be?

I really must disagree that there was anything subtle about Mead on anti-Semitism here. To the contrary, he seemed to me to be a very blunt instrument, indeed. Just to repeat, he said that anyone who thinks that American Jews are driving US policy towards Israel is, at a minimum, both wrong and immoral. A lot hinges on what one means by "driving the policy," of course. Mead did not get a chance to say what he thinks the influence and role of the American Jews are here. But it should have been enough for him to say that anyone who thinks that Jews are driving the policy is wrong. He seemed to me to be saying that anyone who thinks that the Jews are decisive is either ignorant or anti-Semitic. Glenn seemed to me to cower in fear when he realized that he was on the precipice of being called an anti-Semite, merely because he entertains the idea that Walt/Mearsheimer are right on the substance, even if their book is badly executed and they can't prove their point. I think step one in the whole debate would be to establish what sort of evidence would constitute a proof here, what a smoking gun in the world of lobbying looks like, whether a smoking gun on this question of the Israel lobby could ever be adduced in the real world, and so on.

stephanie 11-27-2011 07:40 PM

Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by ledocs (Post 232832)
Stephanie, if oil is not a compelling US interest in the Middle East, what the hell would be?

I didn't say it's not a compelling interest. I said it's not a compelling explanation. I don't believe that the US has ever believed that its Israel policy was putting its access to oil at risk. If one wants to claim that the US's policy from '47 to the present (or during portions of that time) was irrational, I think one has a much tougher argument than Glenn acknowledges, and citing oil doesn't cut it.

I also think it's funny (not in a bad way, it's human) that Glenn insists that the policy is weird because it's irrational when it's clear he's driven by something other than strict rationality, but by a view of the rights and wrongs and identification.

But I welcome a real discussion of the topic.

On the other point, I'm almost ready to agree to disagree. I do think Walter overspoke a bit in reaction to a particular type of argument which I have heard and think justifies the reaction (even if I would use different words to avoid the digression) just as I have heard the anti-semite argument used in ways (different than here) that I think are indeed silencing. I didn't think Glenn was cowering and don't think he should have been surprised to the response to his words that seemed chosen to be provocative. Nor do I think Glenn's argument is a dangerous one -- not at Brown, not at Bard, not at the schools I attended.

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But it should have been enough for him to say that anyone who thinks that Jews are driving the policy is wrong.
I think he wanted to make the stronger point -- that those who continue to attribute the influence solely to "Jews" rather than a PAC without (a) distinguishing between the many different positions represented, and (b) noting the relevance of any non-Jewish opinion (other than the Christian Zionists on occasion) despite the problems with that analysis are being sufficiently pigheaded about their conclusion, no matter what, that one wonders why. It seems strange to make this point so significant. It would seem wrong but not strange (and not immoral) to focus on AIPAC rather than "Jews." Maybe I'm wrong in thinking Walter's reaction would be the same.

It's also important, IMO, to acknowledge that one can hold the extreme pro Israel position without thinking its contrary to the interests of the US. Presumably, however much NRA supporters love guns, they don't actually think that their positions on gun laws are bad for the US. Similarly, AIPAC people may have different views on the relationship between Israel and the US and what Israel should do than I do, but I don't assume it's at the expense of what they think is best for the US. My problem with the "the US acts against its interest in Israel due to the influence of Jews" argument is that it smacks of a disloyalty claim. I don't think that was Glenn's point; I don't think Walter accused him of that. But that's the kind of thing I think Walter was reacting against with the "immoral" point.

For further discussion, I suppose I think the "anti-semite" claim and the "racist" claims should both be dropped. It's possible to explore the underlying issues without using the terms and even though I think the "danger" of being called either is more often than not overstated these days, it always creates a diversion from the main subject. But I'd also ask that those who want to talk about the pressures -- who need not be Jewish, IMO -- try to be more specific, because given the diversity of Jewish opinion and the obvious influence of Christian Zionism (along with other more benign non-Jewish opinion, IMO), it does strike me as weird when people insist upon characterizing it as "due to the support of Jews." And, sure, I admit I read or hear the statement quite differently depending on who it comes from.

ledocs 11-28-2011 07:42 AM

Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)
 
Quote:

I didn't say it's not a compelling interest. I said it's not a compelling explanation. I don't believe that the US has ever believed that its Israel policy was putting its access to oil at risk. If one wants to claim that the US's policy from '47 to the present (or during portions of that time) was irrational, I think one has a much tougher argument than Glenn acknowledges, and citing oil doesn't cut it.
We have to distinguish between what "the US has ever believed" and what some "realists," like Walt/Mearsheimer, think the US ought to believe now. The main point of Walt/Mearsheimer is that US interests and Israel's interests do not entirely converge. The main point over which they do not converge has to be oil. I cannot imagine what else we could be talking about. Secondly, the point of Walt/Mearsheimer is that the US finds itself in a different situation in 2011 than it did in 1947. The goal of the Israel lobby is to portray Israel as a "strategic ally" of the United States. A subsidiary goal is to spread the idea that there is no daylight between the interests of the US's strategic ally and the US itself. The meaning of this strategic alliance, so far as I am concerned, is that Israel will act as a military ally of the US in the case of a major military or terrorist threat to US and Western access to Middle East oil, particularly in Saudi Arabia. Israel would allow US access to its airfields in a catastrophic scenario. What else can it mean for Israel to be a "strategic ally" of the United States?

Has not David Petraeus, among others, called for a reevaluation of US-Israel relations?


http://www.jpost.com/International/Article.aspx?id=171255


What US interests do you think Petraeus has in mind that are not being advanced as they might be, Stephanie, if not oil? Is it dates, worry beads, sand, advancing democracy? What is the point of advancing democracy in the Middle East, of achieving greater stability there? What are the people in Iraq fighting about? Answer: oil revenues.

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I also think it's funny (not in a bad way, it's human) that Glenn insists that the policy is weird because it's irrational when it's clear he's driven by something other than strict rationality, but by a view of the rights and wrongs and identification.
I don’t agree with this either. I don’t see anything odd or funny here. From Glenn’s point of view, the policy is irrational on two fronts: the strategic one (oil), and the moral/ethical one. But “irrational” is probably the wrong word. We’re not saying that the policy has no rationale whatever and is therefore strictly irrational, but rather that the policy is not optimally rational, which one might say is just another way of saying that we don’t agree with the policy from any point of view. There is a disagreement about what US interests require, and there is a disagreement about what justice requires. It just happens that more justice for the Palestinians would simultaneously advance US interests.

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I didn't think Glenn was cowering and don't think he should have been surprised to the response to his words that seemed chosen to be provocative. Nor do I think Glenn's argument is a dangerous one -- not at Brown, not at Bard, not at the schools I attended.
First of all, Glenn was not talking to an audience at an Ivy League school, he was on bhtv. What do you think Glenn meant when he said, “[Whoa], I don’t want to be on the wrong side of that argument?” Here, the argument was that American Jews are more left-wing than Americans generally, that if American Jews were the only Israeli citizens and voted in Israeli elections, there would never be a Likud government in Israel. Hence, by nonsequitur, American Jews do not drive US policy towards Israel, because there are Likud governments.

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I think he wanted to make the stronger point -- that those who continue to attribute the influence solely to "Jews" rather than a PAC without (a) distinguishing between the many different positions represented, and (b) noting the relevance of any non-Jewish opinion (other than the Christian Zionists on occasion) despite the problems with that analysis are being sufficiently pigheaded about their conclusion, no matter what, that one wonders why. It seems strange to make this point so significant. It would seem wrong but not strange (and not immoral) to focus on AIPAC rather than "Jews." Maybe I'm wrong in thinking Walter's reaction would be the same.
But there are no such people. Walt/Mearsheimer never said that US policy towards Israel is attributable solely to Jews. They very explicitly do not say that. The argument is very simple. There is an Israel lobby, which would have us believe that the interests of Israel and the US converge completely. But this is false. Jewish organizations play a very large role in the lobby. The US should reevaluate its policy to Israel and to the Palestinian question in order better to advance its interests.

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My problem with the "the US acts against its interest in Israel due to the influence of Jews" argument is that it smacks of a disloyalty claim. I don't think that was Glenn's point; I don't think Walter accused him of that. But that's the kind of thing I think Walter was reacting against with the "immoral" point.
Well, sorry, but there is a dual loyalty problem. But of course, if Israeli and US interests are entirely convergent, the problem goes away, because loyalty to one country is the same thing as loyalty to the other. Why is there a dual loyalty problem? Because, should there ever be resurgent anti-Semitism in the US, American Jews can flee to Israel. If you don’t think that’s an important component of what animates part of the American Jewish community, you don’t know enough about the American Jewish community. I brought this up in another forum a long time ago, and a sympathetic reader, a Jew, pointed out that this motif is the concluding one in the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C., which I have not visited. American Jews, some of them, are hedging their bets.

stephanie 11-28-2011 11:13 AM

Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by ledocs (Post 232867)
We have to distinguish between what "the US has ever believed" and what some "realists," like Walt/Mearsheimer, think the US ought to believe now.

The realist critique is that US policy is not consistent with what the US ought to do, according to realist views (or the views of some realists, like W&M). And I'm sure that's true. But the question is why not.

As I said before, I think a discussion of this would be interesting, and considering the domestic political aspects is part of that. However, there are lots of reasons unrelated to PACs that policy might be what W&M consider irrational, and if one starts with the idea that it must be rational (and rational in the way you see as rational, when the US does plenty of non-Israel-related stuff that I imagine Glenn would disagree with, as Walter noted), that skews the question. The Cold War caused us to pursue a certain set of policies in the Middle East, for example, that were then hard to pull out of afterwards (supporting dictators who were perceived as on our side). Part of that does end up being related to Israel now, but to see it as always and all about Israel seems to me to miss the big picture. I think if we talk about our policy in the Middle East, ignoring the effect of past policies and actions on what we do now makes little sense.

I also think -- and I know I keep saying this -- that focusing on AIPAC as an explanation for why our policy NOW seems to be more distorted is simply incorrect, a result of blinders. Maybe I'm wrong about this, maybe AIPAC has become a lot more powerful than in the '80s and '90s. But IMO the reason for the change, the reason different things are demanded of Obama than, say, George H.W. Bush is because of 9/11 and its lasting influence on American politics and opinion.

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I don’t agree with this either.
Okay, then we will have to agree to disagree, as I thought Glenn was quite clear that he was reacting from a position of identification with the Palestinians. Many Americans, especially post-9/11 (whether you think this is rational or not) react from a position of identification with the Israelis. When the debate comes from deep identifications and not simply a consideration of interests or a more external consideration of fairness, I think the approach to the issue changes.

On the other points, probably more later. No time now.

thouartgob 11-28-2011 11:24 AM

I think a J-street and AIPAC diavlog would be useful
 
That never came up in the diavlog between Glenn and Walter did it ? Seems like one could use one pro-israel organization to elucidate the similarities and differences of the other fairly quickly, ideally.

kezboard 11-28-2011 02:50 PM

Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)
 
Quote:

Because, should there ever be resurgent anti-Semitism in the US, American Jews can flee to Israel. If you don’t think that’s an important component of what animates part of the American Jewish community, you don’t know enough about the American Jewish community. I brought this up in another forum a long time ago, and a sympathetic reader, a Jew, pointed out that this motif is the concluding one in the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C., which I have not visited. American Jews, some of them, are hedging their bets.
Yeah. What he said. I've heard this from multiple people, including from one friend of a friend who strongly identified as Jewish but whose mother was not Jewish by birth, who was converting to Orthodox Judaism for this very reason -- so she could qualify for Israeli citizenship in case, as she said, things got unsafe for Jews in America. This absolutely floored me. Not because I don't believe there's anti-Semitism in the US -- although I have a seriously hard time imagining a situation in which it becomes so widespread or so politicized that American Jews are in a flee-the-country situation, I get it, historical fatalism runs deep, I don't think it's the best tendency to nurture, but far be it from me to tell Jewish people to forget their history -- but because this strikes me as a seriously unhealthy and weird thing to base your relationship to and opinions about Israel on. There are plenty of reasons to support Israel, but "if our fellow citizens of a multiethnic, pluralistic state start randomly hating us for our religion/ethnicity, we can always retreat to this enclave built to serve as a haven for our group" strikes me as, uh, the wrong attitude to take? Am I allowed to say this?

Wonderment 11-28-2011 02:58 PM

Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)
 
Quote:

Yeah. What he said. I've heard this from multiple people, including from one friend of a friend who strongly identified as Jewish but whose mother was not Jewish by birth, who was converting to Orthodox Judaism for this very reason -- so she could qualify for Israeli citizenship in case, as she said, things got unsafe for Jews in America.
I heard this from basically every Jew in the world as I was growing up, including my parents, uncles, aunts, rabbi and entire neighborhood. I doubt very much if I could have found a Jew who did not believe it.

I hope things have changed for the younger generation.

stephanie 11-28-2011 07:46 PM

Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by ledocs (Post 232867)
The main point of Walt/Mearsheimer is that US interests and Israel's interests do not entirely converge. The main point over which they do not converge has to be oil. I cannot imagine what else we could be talking about.

I think that's over-simplifying. Clearly, Israel and the US don't have identical interests, because they are different countries in extremely different locations who are currently involved in quite different international roles, and it would be foolish to say otherwise. But W&M talk as much or more (in the article) about the war on terror as oil, and the oil arguments seem to focus mainly on the '70s -- a time during which I think the overall US attitude toward Israel and the reasons for it were quite different from now. (I could be wrong, as I don't actually have recollection of the '70s, but I'm plenty willing to explain my reasons if you don't agree with this.)

As it is, I agree that the US's internal politics re Israel means that we act in a way that is contrary to our own interest (and according to many Israelis, contrary to Israel's), but I don't actually think that has much to do with oil or that our position wrt oil would be improved if we acted in a "realist" way. Of course, part of that question involves a determination of what that "realist" way would be, and I don't think that's so obvious as W&M might (or as Glenn may).

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The goal of the Israel lobby is to portray Israel as a "strategic ally" of the United States. A subsidiary goal is to spread the idea that there is no daylight between the interests of the US's strategic ally and the US itself.
But again, one of the reasons the W&M argument is not convincing or well-made is that the "Israel Lobby" includes all groups who are vaguely pro-Israel, including the non-hardliners, including those groups who urge the kinds of actions that aren't acceptable currently in mainstream political discourse, but which I'd consider the right move. So apparently W&M think it's not just the "no daylight" position which is contrary to "realism." This is important because, again, there are many reasons to see the US's support for Israel (not the unconditional, no criticism allowed support, but support) as easily explainable by foreign policy considerations, and not just the Lobby.

Now, I am not claiming the Lobby is irrelevant. That's never been my position. But both Glenn and W&M seem to think that the US's position -- again, not just the current form its taken, but the much milder positions advocated by, say J-Street, the position that we took in past decades, so on -- as so inherently irrational that it must be solely the work of a strong lobby, a lobby that seems more magically strong than any other, given the lack of real analysis of how it works. To analyze what the US did to alienate Egypt and Arab states during the Cold War based simply on Israel and not consider whether our problems with other states in the region explain to a certain extent our relationship with Israel seems to be quite strange.

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The meaning of this strategic alliance, so far as I am concerned, is that Israel will act as a military ally of the US in the case of a major military or terrorist threat to US and Western access to Middle East oil, particularly in Saudi Arabia. Israel would allow US access to its airfields in a catastrophic scenario. What else can it mean for Israel to be a "strategic ally" of the United States?
These are realist reasons for an alliance, so I guess I'm not sure what you are getting at.

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What is the point of advancing democracy in the Middle East, of achieving greater stability there?
One argument is that the current situation is inherently unstable and thus threatens a disastrous instability and anti-American attitude in the future, if we can't get to a more stable and democratic situation without something akin (or worse) to the Iranian Revolution. A related argument is that over time democracy would lead to attitudes more conducive to a liberalization of society and more normal relationships with the west. The maintenance of authoritatianism means distractions by in some cases encouraging religious fundamentalism and, of course, hatred of external enemies, including the US and Israel, and in other cases encourages the growth of religious fundamentalism as a genuine opposition movement. Both probably lead to more risk of terrorism. One bad effect of a radical overthrow of government would potentially be related to oil, sure, but I don't think moderating our policy on Israel changes that.

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First of all, Glenn was not talking to an audience at an Ivy League school, he was on bhtv.
To the extent anything said on bhtv is "dangerous," it's due to the personal position of the person saying it. For example, if Romney came on bhtv and said that we ought to be more critical of Israel, Obama is letting them get away with murder, that would be a real risk for him. Glenn, as a professor at Brown, is not in that kind of position. He can say what he would at Brown.

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What do you think Glenn meant when he said, “[Whoa], I don’t want to be on the wrong side of that argument?”
I think he was saying he didn't want to make an argument that would be perceived as anti-semitic. Not because the accusation is damaging, as because he doesn't want to make such an argument. He later pushed back a little by saying that if it is wrong, it's wrong to make the argument. I think he took seriously Walter's objections to -- not simply the characterization of -- the argument.

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Walt/Mearsheimer never said that US policy towards Israel is attributable solely to Jews.
Glenn's initial statement seemed to. He brought up W&M, to defend his initial statement of the issue, but that's actually not a good defense (problematic as the W&M argument is, IMO), precisely because W&M's "Israel Lobby" is not "Jews" but a broader set of non-unified and quite different groups. Walter should have noted this, but he didn't seem interested in doing more than criticizing W&M.

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There is an Israel lobby, which would have us believe that the interests of Israel and the US converge completely.
They include moderate groups, which do not claim this, or at least claim this only by saying that an Israel who did what it should would be acting in its own best interest, as well as that of the US. To claim these groups as part of the same "Lobby" with AIPAC and the Christian Zionists makes no sense, even if the latter can reasonably be said to be part of one Lobby. But in any case, the statement Glenn made that provoked Walter's digression was much more simple.

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The US should reevaluate its policy to Israel and to the Palestinian question in order better to advance its interests.
Again, this is one argument, one I happen to agree with, even if we wouldn't end up precisely at the same place. The other issue, however, is why does the US act differently than you or I or Glenn or probably even Walter would prefer? The answer to that is more complicated than "powerful Jews" or W&M's "Israel Lobby." Again, do PACs play a role? I'm certain they do. Is my opinion on these questions defined by AIPAC? No, it is not. Getting into the complexities of American opinion and how it plays out in politics on these questions could be interesting. W&M's article is not.

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Well, sorry, but there is a dual loyalty problem. But of course, if Israeli and US interests are entirely convergent, the problem goes away, because loyalty to one country is the same thing as loyalty to the other.
Actually, there's no problem if the interests aren't divergent. The US and France don't always agree, and don't always share the same views of their national interests, but so long as they don't actually go beyond that, there's no conflict.

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Why is there a dual loyalty problem? Because, should there ever be resurgent anti-Semitism in the US, American Jews can flee to Israel. If you don’t think that’s an important component of what animates part of the American Jewish community, you don’t know enough about the American Jewish community.
I don't see this as dual loyalty. It doesn't suggest selling out the US for Israel, being willing to do what is against the best interests of the US, which is the ugly claim.

(And yes I've heard this idea, although I think it's only part of the American Jewish community, as you said.)

ledocs 11-29-2011 05:42 AM

Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)
 
Stephanie said:

Quote:

As it is, I agree that the US's internal politics re Israel means that we act in a way that is contrary to our own interest (and according to many Israelis, contrary to Israel's), but I don't actually think that has much to do with oil or that our position wrt oil would be improved if we acted in a "realist" way.
Let’s forget the labels. The argument is that if the Palestinian problem were mitigated to some great extent, there would be less anti-Western Islamo-terrorism and there would be less anti-Western, anti-US sentiment on the “Arab street,” and that Arab and Persian regimes, whatever form they take, would, ceteris paribus, have reason to be more friendly and accommodating to US interests.

One cannot know what the effects of moderating US policy on Israel would be. But it seems safe to say that a “moderation” could not hurt in the “war against terror” on the one hand, or in general in making whatever Arab and Persian regimes exist more friendly to the US. So there was a “realist” camp that was saying, prior to the Iraq war, that the war on terror should proceed first through Jerusalem. I associate this primarily with Z. Brzezinski.

Stephanie said:

Quote:

One argument is that the current situation is inherently unstable and thus threatens a disastrous instability and anti-American attitude in the future, if we can't get to a more stable and democratic situation without something akin (or worse) to the Iranian Revolution. A related argument is that over time democracy would lead to attitudes more conducive to a liberalization of society and more normal relationships with the west. The maintenance of authoritatianism means distractions by in some cases encouraging religious fundamentalism and, of course, hatred of external enemies, including the US and Israel, and in other cases encourages the growth of religious fundamentalism as a genuine opposition movement. Both probably lead to more risk of terrorism. One bad effect of a radical overthrow of government would potentially be related to oil, sure, but I don't think moderating our policy on Israel changes that.
I think this is mostly gobbledygook. That is why I asked, “What is the point of advancing democracy in the Middle East?” Do you really think that the US undertook the war in Iraq in order to “advance democracy” and “promote stability” and to “defeat terror?” The US has three interests in the Middle East. The first is oil. To the appetite for oil must presumably be added the appetite for petrodollars. The second is supporting Israel, for ideological reasons not having to do with oil. The third is combating anti-Western terrorism, which can be traced back to oil and to Western military presence in the region. After all, Bin Laden’s main complaint was that there were Western forces in Saudi Arabia. The “realist” argument is that the Israel-Palestinian dispute is distracting the US from its real strategic interests in the region. But that formulation can be reasonably translated into, “The Israel-Palestinian dispute is distracting the US from its real strategic interest in the region, which is in maintaining a steady flow of oil.”

The Middle East is not important, apart from oil. It just isn’t. When people talk about promoting democracy in the Middle East, you have to look behind the curtain. (I don't know what to think about Wolfowitz on this point, but it doesn't matter too much, because I do know what to think about Cheney.) When people talk about US “strategic interests” in the Middle East, e.g. when Petraeus talks about that, he is really talking about oil. It’s just code. Walt and Mearsheimer use this code. It’s understood. Why can’t we just say what we mean? Because the great US is demeaned by acknowledging in a diplomatic context that it has become so dependent upon this single resource. To this demeaning dependence is now added the fact that the US is, and has been the principal villain in destroying the planet’s ecology due to the incredibly profligate way in which its land use patterns developed and to its generally profligate habits.

Stephanie said:

Quote:

To the extent anything said on bhtv is "dangerous," it's due to the personal position of the person saying it. For example, if Romney came on bhtv and said that we ought to be more critical of Israel, Obama is letting them get away with murder, that would be a real risk for him. Glenn, as a professor at Brown, is not in that kind of position. He can say what he would at Brown… I think he was saying he didn't want to make an argument that would be perceived as anti-semitic. Not because the accusation is damaging, as because he doesn't want to make such an argument. He later pushed back a little by saying that if it is wrong, it's wrong to make the argument. I think he took seriously Walter's objections to -- not simply the characterization of -- the argument”
This is all not very important. You’re saying that Glenn feels no additional constraint upon what he would say on bhtv vis-à-vis what he would say at Brown. I say that he might feel that he could say one kind of a thing as an aside in a graduate seminar, say, and another kind of thing to undergrads in the classroom, and another kind of thing to an undergrad in his office, and another kind of thing to a grad student in his office, and another kind of thing to a public conference about US-Israel relations held on the Brown campus. A constraint that he might feel, speaking hypothetically, on bhtv is that he brought Ross Levine onto bhtv, for example. So, again hypothetically, there are, in fact, “personal things” that might race through his mind on bhtv in particular when deciding whether and how to venture into contested territory having to do with possible accusations of anti-Semitism. My general point would be that, in the terms of social science, Glenn has social roles in addition to that of university professor at Brown. Some of those other roles are relevant to constraints, or to the lack thereof, that he might feel in different settings when it comes to discussing American Jews and US-Israel relations.

But I am not persuaded, in this context, by the following distinction you make:
Quote:

Not because the accusation [sc. of anti-Semitism] is damaging, as because he doesn't want to make such an argument.
The reason I said that he cowered in fear is that the argument Mead makes at this point, the one about polls of US Jews, is not a good argument, for the reasons I have given, and probably for other reasons that I have not given. So one might think that Loury got distracted by the potential damage caused by the mere possibility of an accusation of anti-Semitism being made against him. And this fear and attendant distraction would perhaps be heightened by the facts that Glenn is black and that, as we know, there is a lot of tension between Jews and blacks surrounding accusations of black anti-Semitism. And we can infer that Glenn may be on bhtv in the first place because of his connection with “The New Republic.” And Glenn recently told us that he resigned his position as contributing editor to “The New Republic” because of an op-ed about Israel that Martin Peretz wrote. I don’t think Glenn wants to be accused of being an anti-Semite, and I don’t think he wants to be an anti-Semite either, I’ll agree with that. Mead had reviewed the Walt-Mearsheimer book. Glenn may not even have read it. Mead is a specialist here, Glenn is not (pace ohreally).

ledocs 11-29-2011 06:11 AM

Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)
 
I said:

Quote:

The US should reevaluate its policy to Israel and to the Palestinian question in order better to advance its interests.
Stephanie replied:

Quote:

Again, this is one argument, one I happen to agree with, even if we wouldn't end up precisely at the same place. The other issue, however, is why does the US act differently than you or I or Glenn or probably even Walter would prefer? The answer to that is more complicated than "powerful Jews" or W&M's "Israel Lobby." Again, do PACs play a role? I'm certain they do. Is my opinion on these questions defined by AIPAC? No, it is not. Getting into the complexities of American opinion and how it plays out in politics on these questions could be interesting. W&M's article is not.
Do Walt and Mearsheimer claim that the Israel lobby explains everything about US policy to Israel? As I said before, the question is that of the degree to which that policy is explained by the hardline, AIPAC “Israel right or wrong” line. And, yes, of course, one would have to sort out the various factions of the lobby in an attempt to understand how and why it is that the hardline strain appears to predominate in actual influence. Maybe they have more money. Maybe they know how to use the money better. Maybe they are just more in tune with American opinion and are not really influencing anything. (But I do think that it is naïve to think that American opinion generally is determinative here. What is important is American elite opinion, the class of actual and potential political donors.)

I think the Walt/Mearsheimer article was quite important, and interesting, although the interest it held for me was primarily that it tended to confirm my own opinions. There is the following paradox. If someone attempted to prove in a rigorous way that AIPAC and its immediate allies in the lobby are driving US policy towards Israel (in the sense that this faction is a determining necessary condition for explaining the policy, not in the sense that it is a necessary and sufficient condition for explaining the policy), that person would have a very difficult time getting the work published and might well be under constant death threat. I don’t know precisely what W&M did or did not do in their book. What I do know is that it would be a monumental task to try to follow the specifically Jewish money in American politics and then to understand what effect it is having on US policy to Israel. Mead complains that W&M content themselves with anecdotal evidence. But let’s imagine a work along these lines that goes well beyond anecdote. If it makes a good case, it is ipso facto anti-Semitic, the author(s) become completely untouchable, and so on. If an academic tried to produce such a work, his career would be effectively at an end. So I think that there are several reasons why W&M’s book is not very good from a social science point of view. It is very difficult to imagine, in principle, such a work being produced and getting a hearing, if we do not prejudge what the results of such a work would be. At the anecdotal level, I have a very strong sense, an overriding sense, that the specifically Jewish “hardline” lobby has been able to enforce a political correctness that has stifled debate about what policy with respect to the Israel-Palestinian dispute would be in the US interest. And that is the main point made by Walt/Mearsheimer, and they should be applauded for having made the point. And they are being applauded by many Jews, as I pointed out earlier.

I said:

Quote:

Well, sorry, but there is a dual loyalty problem. But of course, if Israeli and US interests are entirely convergent, the problem goes away, because loyalty to one country is the same thing as loyalty to the other.
Stephanie replied:

Quote:

Actually, there's no problem if the interests aren't divergent. The US and France don't always agree, and don't always share the same views of their national interests, but so long as they don't actually go beyond that, there's no conflict.
I don’t understand this interchange. I think you meant to say, “There’s no problem if the interests are divergent.” But of course there is a problem when interests diverge. It’s just a question of how big a problem. When France and the US quarreled very publicly in the UN in the run-up to war in Iraq, that was a big problem in the bilateral relationship. When France and Germany quarrel about how to address the Euro crisis, that’s a problem, a problem which can either be manageable or unmanageable. Such quarrels do not constitute prima facie proof of divergent interests, but it would not be difficult to point to divergent interests, or of perceived divergent interests, as the source of these particular quarrels.

I said:

Quote:

Why is there a dual loyalty problem? Because, should there ever be resurgent anti-Semitism in the US, American Jews can flee to Israel. If you don’t think that’s an important component of what animates part of the American Jewish community, you don’t know enough about the American Jewish community.
Stephanie replied:

Quote:

I don't see this as dual loyalty. It doesn't suggest selling out the US for Israel, being willing to do what is against the best interests of the US, which is the ugly claim.
Again, you are making a distinction which cannot be maintained, in my opinion. People come to convince themselves that there is no daylight between Israel’s interests and US interests, that, for example, condoning Israel’s settlement policy bears no relation to the US’s real strategic interest in the region, which is oil. Or, they say, “Yes, there is a potential problem here, but it is quite minor, and is as nothing when compared with the huge advantages conferred by having a loyal and strategic democratic ally in the region.” And a reason that people can convince themselves of this is their special relationship to the Jewish Homeland. I don’t think it’s that useful to try to figure out who is sincere on the “no daylight” claim and who is not. It is sufficient to try to point out that there is daylight.

stephanie 11-29-2011 12:06 PM

Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)
 
ledocs, there are two different arguments here, which are getting conflated.

One is what is the rational US policy wrt Israel. I believe that there are multiple reasonable answers to that question, as with many foreign policy questions. And I think some look quite different in retrospect, but if we want to understand why they were seen as rational at the time, you need to take seriously the mindset of those involved in the decisions.

For example, with hindsight, we might think the reaction of the British and US to various movements in the Middle East (the election of Mosaddegh in Iran, say) was counterproductive or wrong. But to insist that it was so irrational as to obviously be the result of non-realist considerations -- let alone considerations that have nothing to do with foreign policy objectives -- is clearly wrong, it ignores the real concerns about both oil and socialism/nationalizaton in the region that were primary at the time.

Similarly, if people tried to argue that the US support for the awful Saudi Arabian leadership or support for Zia in Pakistan or on and on was irrational, they fail. Now, they can certainly argue these things were or are unwise, which is what I see the essence of W&M's argument about the US's Israel policy over time, but that's quite different than the claim that it simply cannot be explained by foreign policy considerations because it is on its face irrational even given the mindset of the people making the policy.

Now, you say:

Quote:

The argument is that if the Palestinian problem were mitigated to some great extent, there would be less anti-Western Islamo-terrorism...
This is an argument, sure. You might even be able to convince me. But does it show that anyone with a different view of what the US policy should be is choosing that policy despite the tradeoff of more terrorism? No. It simply means that there's no agreement on your point that there would be less terrorism as a result of the changed policy.

(My own view, for the record, is that if we could resolve the I/P dispute, through the establishment of a 2-state solution, that would take a lot of the power away from the issue and how it's used to encourage terrorism. But that wouldn't happen overnight and -- more significantly -- I don't think the US changing policy leads to a settlement of the dispute. It might make it more likely, but even that seems a bit like wishful thinking, much as I think we should give it a shot.)

Quote:

I think this is mostly gobbledygook.
That's nice. I clearly don't. More significantly, I don't believe that those who make such arguments are being so irrational that they can't possibly really believe it.

Quote:

Do you really think that the US undertook the war in Iraq in order to “advance democracy” and “promote stability” and to “defeat terror?”
How did you get that from my response? I didn't say anything about Iraq.

But in fact I think the underlying reasons for Iraq were mixed.

Quote:

The Middle East is not important, apart from oil.
Again, if you look at policy in the '70s, I don't think the US saw its actions wrt Israel as endangering access to oil or as inconsistent with its overall strategic interests, which have to be seen in the context of the Cold War.

Also, of course, it's hardly only wrt Israel that there are motives other than strictly realist ones. Whether we should follow a realist foreign policy is a matter of debate. The question is, to the extent the US in the '70s or at any other time saw our involvement as consistent with justice or moral considerations, is that simply the result of lobbying by a particular group, or is it more complex. I suppose you can say that whatever I remember thinking as a kid in the '80s or whatever I recall friends and family thinking were just the result of AIPAC's propaganda, but that seems to me to dismiss many other reasons and influences.

Quote:

This is all not very important. You’re saying that Glenn feels no additional constraint upon what he would say on bhtv vis-à-vis what he would say at Brown.
Correct. I am saying that in this day and age things get disseminated. After Glenn's comments in a prior discussion of Israel, I think we all know what he thinks. To suggest that he can be cowed like a politician can be, that the climate "of the US" makes his comments dangerous ignores the differences within different subcultures of the US. There are subcultures in which being perceived as an overly aggressive critic of Israel is a problem. None of them seem all that relevant to Glenn.

I am also quite tired of the overreaction to claims, whether they be of racism, sexism, anti-semitism. It's reached a point when you'd think it's worse and more worth discussion to be called such than to actually be such, and almost always the people who complain the loudest about the accusations are in contexts in which the accusation is actually a badge of honor or, at least, not particularly harmful. To Glenn's credit, he did not overreact to the use of the term. He took it seriously, because I think he's a man of good faith and really does not wish to say things that can fairly be the target of such criticism. I took his response as trying to understand Walter's POV on these things and considering whether there was more to the issue than he had assumed.

Of course, as I said before, I do agree that these kinds of terms can be overused (even in good faith), are something (NOT here, IMO) used to silence, and always become a distraction. Therefore, I think it's better to avoid them. But I do not agree that Walter's discussion was an effort to silence or inexplicable or worth criticism of the kinds he's gotten, and that's why I'm arguing.

chiwhisoxx 11-29-2011 12:09 PM

Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)
 
Here's the Andrew Sulllivan post about Mearsheimer supporting an obviously anti-semitic book:

http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast....emite-ctd.html

Longer posts from Volokh Conspiracy and Jeff Goldberg:

http://volokh.com/2011/09/26/a-chall...n-mearsheimer/

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/...ionist/245518/

This is not a question of vague quotes, unclear motives, or things being pulled out of context. Atzmon (the guy Mearsheimer supported) has ridiculously vile quotes about Jewish people, and there's no way to interpret otherwise. Not to mention, this is not a case of Mearsheimer just endorsing a book based on a blurb, because in a post at Steve Walt's blog (you can find the link via the Volokh post) he goes into detail defending Atzmon from the people criticizing him. I think this whole thing should at least make people reflect on how they view the Israel Lobby.

stephanie 11-29-2011 12:25 PM

Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by ledocs (Post 232912)
Do Walt and Mearsheimer claim that the Israel lobby explains everything about US policy to Israel?

They seemed to me to be trying to do so, or at least not clearly distinguishing the different reasons. They quite simplistically and unconvincingly dismissed other possible reasons in the article. Maybe the book is better on that point, but nothing I've read about it suggests so.

This gets to the point I made before, with which chiwhi agreed (I think). A detailed discussion of the mechanisms of how the Lobby, which W&M did not undertake, would be worth while. You'd have to break it into the actually lobbying groups, though, not just lump all vaguely Israel-positive interest groups together. In connection with that, you'd need specific analysis of why the US took various positions that are allegedly irrational or explained only by the Lobby. It would be also nice, of course, to give some context by talking about the other intersections of domestic politics and international policy.

Quote:

If someone attempted to prove in a rigorous way that AIPAC and its immediate allies in the lobby are driving US policy towards Israel (in the sense that this faction is a determining necessary condition for explaining the policy, not in the sense that it is a necessary and sufficient condition for explaining the policy), that person would have a very difficult time getting the work published and might well be under constant death threat. I don’t know precisely what W&M did or did not do in their book.
You and I clearly have a different sense of the barriers here. I do think it would be extremely difficult to sort out cause and effect, and thus no matter how rigorous there'd be a lot of anger and accusations. On the other hand, there is a built in cheering section who would welcome even not particularly well-done work.

I don't think the reaction to W&M would have been more negative if the work was better from a social science perspective. My suspicion is that the reason they didn't do a good job from that perspective is that their field is not political science of that sort and they don't seem to have taken seriously the work and literature of the field. They just assumed it was enough to do what they did.

And I think it's a bit of a strawman to keep bringing up W&M in connection with the anti-semitism claim, because Walter didn't say that their analysis was anti-semitic. You seem to be assuming that I am or he was suggesting that it would be and defending by saying (which of course I know is true) that many Jews agree with their claim. But that's not how I understood Walter and, in any case, not what I'm saying. Walter seems to now think that Mearsheimer recommended an anti-semitic book, but I have no knowledge about or interest in that.

Quote:

I think you meant to say, “There’s no problem if the interests are divergent.”
Yeah. (I was thinking of someone I know who has dual citizenship -- I was wondering after the fact if you might think I was trying to make some weird reference to you.) The US and France might disagree, but unless they come to the kind of hostilities that seem extremely unlikely, I don't see it as posing a problem, as suggesting that someone must choose between the two. No one seems to suggest -- outside of wars and the kinds of reactions that, say, those of Japanese and German descend got at some (including the internment, obviously) -- that having a tenderness for another country with which you feel some connection is disloyal. It's common in the US. It's talked about differently in some quarters re Jews and Israel and, these days, immigrants from Mexico/Latino groups on occasion.

thouartgob 11-29-2011 11:03 PM

Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by chiwhisoxx (Post 232925)
Here's the Andrew Sulllivan post about Mearsheimer supporting an obviously anti-semitic book:

http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast....emite-ctd.html

Longer posts from Volokh Conspiracy and Jeff Goldberg:

http://volokh.com/2011/09/26/a-chall...n-mearsheimer/

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/...ionist/245518/

This is not a question of vague quotes, unclear motives, or things being pulled out of context. Atzmon (the guy Mearsheimer supported) has ridiculously vile quotes about Jewish people, and there's no way to interpret otherwise. Not to mention, this is not a case of Mearsheimer just endorsing a book based on a blurb, because in a post at Steve Walt's blog (you can find the link via the Volokh post) he goes into detail defending Atzmon from the people criticizing him. I think this whole thing should at least make people reflect on how they view the Israel Lobby.

Yikes.

...and based on the context provided by Mearsheimer's blog post I think Atzmon inhabits the same un-PC territory that John Derbyshire and others track in. Unlike the ridiculous Atzmon "the derb" gets a podcast at NRO.

ledocs 11-30-2011 06:40 AM

Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)
 
Quote:

And I think it's a bit of a strawman to keep bringing up W&M in connection with the anti-semitism claim, because Walter didn't say that their analysis was anti-semitic. You seem to be assuming that I am or he was suggesting that it would be and defending by saying (which of course I know is true) that many Jews agree with their claim. But that's not how I understood Walter and, in any case, not what I'm saying. Walter seems to now think that Mearsheimer recommended an anti-semitic book, but I have no knowledge about or interest in that.
Did you read Mead's review of the Walt/Mearsheimer book? He says that the book is not anti-Semitic but that its rhetorical style leaves it open to such a charge. And he does nothing in the review to back up this characterization. Then Mead moves on in this dv to accusing Mearsheimer, essentially, of being an anti-Semite. Mearsheimer has endorsed a book that is “clearly anti-Semitic.” Mead does not say what the book is, he doesn't say if Mearsheimer might have had motives for endorsing the book that would lead to a more innocuous interpretation of the endorsement than the one he is suggesting, we don't know what Mead's grounds are for asserting that the book in question is "clearly anti-Semitic."

But I have now gone to the trouble of looking all this up, and the results are…incredible.

Here is the Andrew Sullivan blog post about Mearsheimer’s blurb for a “clearly anti-Semitic” book.

http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/2011/09/mearsheimers-malfeasance.html


Does Sullivan say, as Mead overwhelmingly implies, that the book for which Mearsheimer provided a blurb is “clearly anti-Semitic?” No, he says nothing of the sort. Here is what Sullivan says:

Quote:

I have a hard time commenting on this since I have not read the book in question, although Atzmon strikes me as a disturbed figure wont to write obviously explosive things. Here is Mearsheimer's view of the dude…
It turns out that Atzmon sounds (according to Sullivan's summary of Mearsheimer's reading of him) a bit like Wonderment, noted anti-Semite. Mead misrepresents the brouhaha. Who else endorsed the offending book? Richard Falk. I knew Richard Falk, a Jew, when I was a boy. My father and he were friends and colleagues at Ohio State. I have read a bit of Richard Falk, who is a notable professor (now emeritus) of international law with a highly cosmopolitan world-view, shall we say. Is Richard Falk an anti-Semite because he endorses the book? Christ Almighty. Again, Richard Falk shares a lot of views with Wonderment, or vice versa.

By the way, here is a quote from another recent blog post (September 11, 2011) of Sullivan’s about Mearsheimer:

Quote:

It took Obama to get this [sc. anti-terrorism policy] right, after I and so many got it so terribly wrong. And this is another reminder of the strategic brilliance of Mearsheimer, a man subjected to a vicious smear campaign because of his resistance to the Greater Israel Lobby.
http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/2011/09/the-prescience-of-mearsheimer.html

With regard to what Mead has to say in the dv about Andrew Sullivan on Mearsheimer, all I can reply is, “What the fuck?” But I like Sullivan's use of the term, "Greater Israel Lobby."

There is absolutely no straw man here. You have to be pretty tone-deaf, in my opinion, not to understand that Mead is on the hunt for anti-Semites, that you had better be very careful what you say around him as far as the Jews and Israel are concerned. Moreover, if you read his review of Walt/Mearsheimer, you will see that the overall tone and judgment of that published review are a far cry from the characterization he gives of the book in this dv, viz. that "It's one of the silliest books ever written." That is not the way in which a normal reader would interpret that review. (By the way, the president of Bard is Leon Botstein. I've got to think that Botstein was very instrumental in getting Mead to come to Bard. I don't know what Botstein's views on US - Israel relations are, but somehow I would not be surprised if they were very close to Mead's, because one might wonder, a priori, how Mead ended up at Bard. And I recently listened to an interview with Botstein on "Conversations with History" at the UC Berkeley website that I liked quite a bit, but Israel is not discussed there. That's all just a sidelight. And I want to make it clear that I am not on an anti-Mead crusade here. If he has published something which shows the "overwhelming evidence" that America's Jews are not driving US - Israel relations, or that they are not crucially influential in determining those relations, I am anxious to read it.)

On the question of dual loyalty, Victor Davis Hanson argues that there is a dual-loyalty problem for the Mexican-American immigrants to the US. I am not endorsing this view, I did not finish his book on the matter, but Hanson is one of the most rabid Israel supporters on the planet, so I just think this is interesting, that he's so worked up about dual loyalty in one instance and not at all in the other.

On the substantive question of the influence of the "hardline" portion of the American Jewish community on US - Israel relations, and on the form that debate about those relations has taken, I would like to know what the best books, from the point of view of political science, are in the field of lobbying and PACS. As I have tried to say before, I am wondering about the extent to which it would be possible to do a rigorous study about the Israel lobby, to get beyond the tellingly anecdotal.

I would apologize for the gobbledygook remark, except that you were pretty harsh yourself in the way that you characterized the simplistic view that Loury and I appear to share, namely that oil is the principle consideration in America's Middle East policy generally, excluding Israel policy. (Although military/intelligence considerations might actually be paramount in reconciling America's Israel policy with a generally oil-driven foreign policy in the Middle East, I don't know, since, as I pointed out, this is rarely talked about and is mostly secret.). Speaking for myself here, not for Loury, I think that oil ought to be the paramount consideration in America’s Middle East policy, if it is not, until America can wean itself from oil if at all possible, which ought to be a huge priority, but is not.

stephanie 11-30-2011 08:03 AM

Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by ledocs (Post 233009)
I would apologize for the gobbledygook remark, except that you were pretty harsh yourself...

I wasn't offended, and I didn't think I'd been harsh, so I guess we are reading the conversation somewhat differently, but with no harm so far.

Anyway, more later -- I just wanted to quickly respond to that.

ledocs 11-30-2011 10:14 AM

Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)
 
I stopped too soon in my reading of Sulllivan's blog. There is another posting from the day following that of my prior citation (September 26 and 27, 2011), in which he seems to accept the characterization of the book he has not read as anti-Semitic:

http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast....emite-ctd.html

Here is Mearsheimer's defense, cited on the blog of the putatively anti-Semitic writer, who is a Jewish jazz saxophonist, formerly resident in Israel (perhaps born there, I don't know), now resident in London, also cited by Sullivan, but in a deprecatory way:

http://www.gilad.co.uk/writings/mear...#entry12987320

Here is a critique of Mearsheimer by a Jewish intellectual which explicitly calls Mearsheimer an anti-Semite:

http://www.thejewishweek.com/news/na..._scandal_wasnt

Here is Jeffrey Goldberg, lambasting Gilad Atzmon:

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/...ionist/245518/

Finally, here is an interview with Norman Finkelstein which alleges a malign influence of the Israel lobby, or of the Greater Israel Lobby, in academia, or the "marketplace of ideas" as regards the Palestinian question, in particular:

http://www.zcommunications.org/finke...an-finkelstein

I am very ambivalent about whether I want to go down this rabbit hole, i.e. the rabbit hole of the scholarly literature involving Israel and the Palestinians. It's very contentious and gets nasty pretty quickly, that is clear. September 11, 2011, Andrew Sullivan thinks that Mearsheimer is brilliant and the object of a terrible smear campaign. Only two weeks later, Mearsheimer becomes something very different on the same blog, all because he has written a blurb for a book that the blogger, Sullivan, has not read, and will probably never read.
__________________

thouartgob 11-30-2011 10:51 AM

Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by ledocs (Post 233020)
I stopped too soon in my reading of Sulllivan's blog. There is another posting from the day following that of my prior citation (September 26 and 27, 2011), in which he seems to accept the characterization of the book he has not read as anti-Semitic:

http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast....emite-ctd.html

Here is Mearsheimer's defense, cited on the blog of the putatively anti-Semitic writer, who is a Jewish jazz saxophonist, formerly resident in Israel (perhaps born there, I don't know), now resident in London, also cited by Sullivan, but in a deprecatory way:

http://www.gilad.co.uk/writings/mear...#entry12987320

Here is a critique of Mearsheimer by a Jewish intellectual which explicitly calls Mearsheimer an anti-Semite:

http://www.thejewishweek.com/news/na..._scandal_wasnt

Finally, here is an interview with Norman Finkelstein which alleges a malign influence of the Israel lobby, or of the Greater Israel Lobby, in academia, or the "marketplace of ideas" as regards the Palestinian question, in particular:

http://www.zcommunications.org/finke...an-finkelstein

I am very ambivalent about whether I want to go down this rabbit hole, i.e. the rabbit hole of the scholarly literature involving Israel and the Palestinians. It's very contentious and gets nasty pretty quickly, that is clear. September 11, 2011, Andrew Sullivan thinks that Mearsheimer is brilliant and the object of a terrible smear campaign. Only two weeks later, Mearsheimer becomes something very different on the same blog, all because he has written a blurb for a book that the blogger, Sullivan, has not read, and will probably never read.
__________________

All the links are broken unfortunately. The urls ( or if you call them links or addresses ) are "elipsed" in the middle which breaks the link, re-pasting the original urls will fix it.

Found and interesting post from Finkelstein from 2008.

Here he discusses why Israel would be against a 2 state solution.

http://www.zcommunications.org/power...an-finkelstein

Quote:

So, I mean, even the premise of the question of the question is not entirely clear. Why are they persistent? There have been basically three theories put forth -- two, and then I have my own view on the topic. One is the ideological one, that these people are Zionists and they're not going to concede any of Eretz Israel - to which they believe they have title - so it's basically an ideological Zionist commitment. And then there's the school of thought which says it's a rational commitment to wanting to preserve the water resources, the land resources, and so forth.

My own view is, I don't really think it's either. I think it's more of a political issue. It has nothing to do with security and never has. The mentality of the Israelis is that you don't concede anything to Arabs, because when you give them an inch, they're going to take a mile. So once you have something you don't give it up unless you're forced to leave. And they control the occupied territories and they will not budge until they're kicked out.

You take the case of the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon. OK, at the beginning people said they wanted to keep it because they wanted the waters of the Litani. But after a while that was no longer a credible explanation. So why didn't they leave? I think they didn't leave because the Arabs wanted them to leave, and you don't leave because they want you to leave, because in their minds that shows weakness, and if you show any weakness, they're going to exploit it. So they stayed in Lebanon until May 2000, until when? Until they were kicked out. So I don't really think the ideological or the rational explanation is the right one. I think it's a political one, it's a whole mentality on the part of the Israelis.
The arguments in bold are often used by the hawkishly inclined, so maybe Finkelstein is correctly deducing this situation :) Instead of a "rational" resource argument it's a "rational" political one

Further down there is discussion about Chomsky's ideas on the subject that puts the whole Israeli influence thing on it's head a bit.

Quote:

I happen to have been discussing it with Professor Chomsky the other day, because he doesn't really agree with me on this and he's pretty persistent in disagreeing. I said to him, ‘Ask yourself a simple question. If tomorrow, the Israelis said ‘We're packing up and we're leaving; we're going back to the June 4, 1967 border.' Is there anyone in the US ruling elite who would regret that? Is there anyone who would shed a tear? Is there anyone who would tell them ‘No, don't go'? I think the answer is obviously not. So if no one in the US administration feels a real commitment to those occupied territories, the pressure cannot be coming from here; that is to say, from within the US government. It's coming from the lobby. On the question of the narrower, or the local question of the Israel-Palestine conflict, to my mind it's pretty clear it's lobby that keeps the US supporting the settlements, the colonization, and so forth.
First I would like to point out that the italicized quote could be quite wrong as there are plenty of christian elites that would be quite unhappy about Israel leaving the occupied territory.

Quote:

JH: How does Professor Chomsky respond to that?

NF: You see, the thing is, with any political issue, you can always find a quote/unquote ‘rational explanation' for anything. Benjamin Franklin famously said, ‘What a wonderful thing reason is, because you can find a reason for anything.' It's sort of like, in politics, you can always find a ‘rational explanation.' But the rational explanation might not be the right explanation, for a simple reason: Because you can have, in any given situation, multiple rational explanations. [In the case of Israel in the occupied territories], you can have a rational explanation for staying, you can have a rational explanation for leaving, you can have a rational explanation for anything. You can always find quote/unquote rational explanations.

So Professor Chomsky will give rational explanations; he'll say the water resources, he'll say land, he'll say it increases Israel's ability to have a dynamic society, dynamic economy. That's all true. And he'll say it keeps the tension up with the Arab world, which the United States likes, because the US doesn't really want an Israel at peace with the Arab world. That's all true. But then you can make a whole series of ‘rational explanations' saying if they withdraw, there will be a peace with their Arab neighbors, then they can dominate the Middle East economically, then they won't have to devote so much money to their defense expenditures, they can devote their money to this and that.
So from Chomsky the Lobby is actually doing the will of the US government and the military industrial complex. Not exactly a new argument from him but it is sort of the opposite take on the notion of a Jewish controlled Pro-Israel lobby pushing agendas against the wishes of the US.

ledocs 11-30-2011 12:15 PM

Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)
 
I corrected the faulty links in my post, TAG, thanks for pointing that out.

And thanks for linking to that lengthy interview with Finkelstein. I found that very interesting and enlightening. I had never heard of Finkelstein until I got into a discussion about Israel with bbbeard. Finkelstein seems to be a fascinating fellow. I had to laugh when he refers, perhaps more than once, to bhead David Aaron Miller as an "imbecile." In the short piece I cited, he talks about Dershowitz in similar terms. I can see why he may have had trouble getting tenure, quite apart from his political views. Maybe he'll go into designing military software systems now.

stephanie 12-01-2011 02:48 PM

Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by ledocs (Post 233009)
Did you read Mead's review of the Walt/Mearsheimer book?

Yes, and it's generally compatible with my own reaction to the W/M article and to the arguments one of them (Walt, I believe) presented during a bhtv appearance a while back.

Quote:

He says that the book is not anti-Semitic but that its rhetorical style leaves it open to such a charge. And he does nothing in the review to back up this characterization.
I disagree. I think Mead is being a realist here. There are reactions to the topic in question which can genuinely be called anti-semitic, there are accusations flying around, and there are suspicions of anti-semitism that colors the debate. As a result, it behooves people, especially people who are neither anti-semitic nor Jewish, to be aware of how certain claims are more sensitive due to how they have been used by others and due to history. I don't think this is any different than what is expected with regard to other potentially sensitive topics.

Also, as I have noticed during the recent explosion of Israel talk around here, during which I've actually tried to wade in some to a topic I usually talk about only with those I know are of common mind, it's a topic where it's extremely hard to engage in communication with those who disagree with you. It is in part difficult because there are assumptions on both sides about what those who disagree with them believe, supported in part by the kind of language used and in part by familiarity with the more extreme arguments on the same side. As a result, I firmly believe that people engaging in the discussion should try to avoid the kinds of statements and arguments that are extremely likely to get misinterpreted by the other side or to simply serve as a barrier to discussion and which do nothing to further the discussion, but only to make ones own side feel happy about the rhetorical point.

Based on this, I think one does have to be careful and specific in talking about this and make sure it doesn't sound like the arguments which are problematic due to the historical context. There's an added reason, which is that when there's a longstanding assumption one probably should be extra careful to make sure he or she hasn't simply bought into such assumptions. Insist upon more evidence to counter possible prejudice. (I'm sure this is something that people not in the group may be more focused on. For example, I'm generally less concerned that my attitudes are sexist, even though I believe that cultural attitudes, including sexist ones, cross gender lines. Nonetheless, I have a resistence to the idea that I'm sexist, and thus likely in some cases more impatience with claims that a particular argument must be, if I see some merit in it.)

Anyway, if one has a good faith point to make -- one relating to AIPAC, say, or even a more general cultural one about Judaism and the US -- one can make that without resorting to the kinds of claims and language that is almost certain to be seen as signs of anti-semitism, as common anti-Jewish tropes, by many people. As Mead said, it's better to be careful to avoid this, because it ends up distracting from the discussion they want to have, about the relationship of lobbies and domestic politics on foreign policy in this area.

W&M's fault here was in not being specific in their definition of the Israel Lobby -- lumping in pro Israel groups with extremely different views and means, for example -- or in how the lobbying is said to relate to the policies (again, a problem because J-Street clearly is not getting its views heard). They were not clear on the difference between pushing a view on the topic in which "it's good for Israel as well as the US" is used as an argument -- since basically everyone says that -- and being part of this Lobby.

Going to a slightly different subject -- the reaction that many have to the idea that their language or arguments could be seen as offensive or grounded in prejudice. Mead didn't say this, but I would further add that when people get so upset by the fact that certain ways of talking about the problem that can be easily avoided result in negative assumptions that they double-down on the use of the problematic ways of talking about it, I sometimes wonder why. I don't assume anti-semitism -- I'm sure some of the people who react in this way are doing so because they are pissed that their motives could be questioned in such a way (often because they are Jewish themselves, similar to the reaction I noted above re my reaction to some claims of sexism) or because they want to make a stand against what they see as an over-used charge or simply because they want to use what they consider more vivid language. (The latter argument assumes that the language in question -- something like calling the Israelis "Nazis" for example -- is more compelling for some reason, but I think it never is. It's merely satisfying for the already convinced.)

In response to the people making the arguments referred to above, I'd note that exactly the same arguments can be made about various uses of language and examples that are often called racist or which offend people, but which some, some of whom are racist, some of whom I'm sure are not, feel compelled to employ anyway. Or probably because of that fact. I don't think going there necessarily makes one racist or anti-semitic, again, but my opinion is that there's no real good reason for it and it makes discussion more difficult. So I'm sympathetic to Mead.

On the other hand, as I said above, I think the same can be said for actually calling people racist or anti-semitic, even when it's probably true. So on the whole I think it's better not to go there. Mead was more general in his comments -- he didn't call anyone specifically an anti-semite, but described an argument as such. He only commented on Mearsheimer and the book at all when asked about him. Yet as noted above, he probably could have made his point in the diavlog without creating this distraction.

On Mearsheimer and the Atzmon book, that isn't something I'm interested in learning enough about to have an opinion I wish to defend in writing and I didn't see it as central to the diavlog. (Okay, one thing. I don't know enough to have a well-founded view of Atzmon, but based on the various things he's been quoted as saying, he sounds nothing like Wonderment to me.)

Quote:

You have to be pretty tone-deaf, in my opinion, not to understand that Mead is on the hunt for anti-Semites, that you had better be very careful what you say around him as far as the Jews and Israel are concerned.
I strongly disagree. I think his review of W&M is evidence for my side of this argument, also.

Quote:

(By the way, the president of Bard is Leon Botstein. I've got to think that Botstein was very instrumental in getting Mead to come to Bard. I don't know what Botstein's views on US - Israel relations are, but somehow I would not be surprised if they were very close to Mead's, because one might wonder, a priori, how Mead ended up at Bard. And I recently listened to an interview with Botstein on "Conversations with History" at the UC Berkeley website that I liked quite a bit, but Israel is not discussed there. That's all just a sidelight. And I want to make it clear that I am not on an anti-Mead crusade here. If he has published something which shows the "overwhelming evidence" that America's Jews are not driving US - Israel relations, or that they are not crucially influential in determining those relations, I am anxious to read it.)
Yes, Botstein has been president of Bard forever. Here's something on him and I/P that you might find interesting. I'm actually not sure why Botstein's views on Israel would be relevant, but I don't assume the president of a college hires people -- especially big name people -- based on them lining up with his POV, however.

Quote:

On the question of dual loyalty, Victor Davis Hanson argues that there is a dual-loyalty problem for the Mexican-American immigrants to the US.
Yeah, I mentioned this was the other area in which you heard such views (and somewhat jokingly referenced Mickey Kaus). I am definitely not going to defend Hanson, however.

ledocs 12-02-2011 05:44 PM

Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)
 
I said:

Quote:

He says that the book is not anti-Semitic but that its rhetorical style leaves it open to such a charge. And he does nothing in the review to back up this characterization.
Stephanie replied:

Quote:

I disagree. I think Mead is being a realist here…. There are reactions to the topic in question which can genuinely be called anti-semitic, there are accusations flying around, and there are suspicions of anti-semitism that colors the debate. As a result, it behooves people, especially people who are neither anti-semitic nor Jewish, to be aware of how certain claims are more sensitive due to how they have been used by others and due to history. I don't think this is any different than what is expected with regard to other potentially sensitive topics.
But what I meant was, there is no quotation from the book in the entire review. There is no citation by page number of any of the passages that certain readers might reasonably interpret as being anti-Semitic. All Mead had to do was to cite specific places in the book where this alleged insensitivity was evident. Or he could have said, "The burden of proof in a case like this is very high, here is an example of a book about lobbying/PACS where that burden is met, and where most scholars think it was met, the authors should have followed this model," or something like that. Or, he could have advanced the argument you've been making, that there are ways to reconcile America's policy to Israel with realism or rationality that do not involve resorting to an Israel lobby explanation, and then he says what those ways are. There is no attempt in the review to show that America's then current policy to Israel was, in fact, in America's interest, so that the whole premise of the book is wrong, or to show that America's handling of the Palestinian question in particular is in America's interest.

What there is along these lines, in the review, is the following paragraph:

Quote:

The authors do what anti-Semites have always done: they overstate the power of Jews. Although Mearsheimer and Walt make an effort to distinguish their work from anti-Semitic tracts, the picture they paint calls up some of the ugliest stereotypes in anti-Semitic discourse. The Zionist octopus they conjure -- stirring up the Iraq war, manipulating both U.S. political parties, shaping the media, punishing the courageous minority of professors and politicians who dare to tell the truth -- is depressingly familiar. Some readers will be so overpowered by this familiar bugbear that they will conclude that the authors are deliberately invoking it. In fact, Mearsheimer and Walt have come honestly to a mistaken understanding of the relationship between pro-Israel political activity and U.S. policy and strategic interests. It is no crime to be wrong, and being wrong about Jews does not necessarily make someone an anti-Semite. But rhetorical clumsiness and the occasional unfortunate phrase make their case harder to defend. (bold added)
Earlier in the review, Mead says this:

Quote:

One must also commend the two authors for their decision to focus on an important topic that has not received the attention it merits. The politics of U.S. policy in the Middle East is a subject that is not well understood. Pro-Israel organizations, political action committees (PACs), and individuals do play significant roles in the U.S. political process, and they do influence politicians and journalists. Given the importance of the Middle East in U.S. foreign policy and world affairs, these actors and their influence should be explored. Even if The Israel Lobby is in the end not as helpful as they hope, Mearsheimer and Walt have admirably and courageously helped to start a much-needed conversation on a controversial and combustible topic. There should be no taboos among students of U.S. foreign policy…
Now, compare that quote from the review with its opening paragraph.

Quote:

John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt claim that they want The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy "to foster a more clear-eyed and candid discussion of this subject." Unfortunately, that is not going to happen. The Israel Lobby will harden and freeze positions rather than open them up. It will delay rather than hasten the development of new U.S. policies in the Middle East. It will confuse the policy debate not just in the United States but throughout the world as well, while giving aid and comfort to anti-Semites wherever they are found. All of this is deeply contrary to the intentions of the authors; written in haste, the book will be repented at leisure.
On the one hand, M&W admirably and courageously helped to start a much-needed conversation about an important topic. On the other hand, the conversation they have started will lead to hardened positions, less debate of the current US policy or of that of the recent past, a continuation of the old policy, and will give aid and comfort to anti-Semites everywhere. I am inclined to think that continuation of the occupation will give more aid and comfort to anti-Semites than will this book by Walt and Mearsheimer, much more. And I am hard put to see that there is any truth in the rest of what Mead says here either, that this book is leading to less debate, to a more sclerotic policy, what have you.

So, as I have said before, the question is, how much influence do America’s “hardline” Jews have on the formation of US policy? In particular, the question is, how much influence does this portion of the wider Israel lobby have on America’s stance with respect to the West Bank settlements, and the occupation more generally, to America’s apparent failure to change Israel’s behavior in this regard? I find it hard to believe that M&W are as incoherent about the nature of the lobby as this review, and other accounts, would lead one to believe. That is, I don’t see how they could not be focusing on the more hardline part of the greater lobby, as opposed to the Tikkun or J-Street portions of the lobby. But I would have to read the book to find out. Similarly, I will have to await Mead’s presentation of the overwhelming evidence that American Jews are not crucial to the formation of the US’s policy towards Israel.

apple 12-02-2011 05:47 PM

Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)
 
And to be clear, the guy Mearsheimer is defending isn't criticizing the religion, he's talking about "Jews" - and based on the context, it's fairly clear that he's talking about the Jewish people, not religious Jews.

ledocs 12-02-2011 05:52 PM

Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)
 
Mead appears to make a crucial point here.

Quote:

Both the military and the economic aid that the United States offers, Mearsheimer and Walt tell us, can be substantially reduced or even eliminated without undermining Israel's security. But they do not carry this point through to its logical conclusion: if U.S. aid is of relatively limited value to Israel, then threats to trim or withhold that aid will have relatively little impact on Israel's behavior.
Mead is correct. M&W cannot have it both ways. The military aid is either important or it is not. But I think the answer would be that what is crucially important to Israel is the moral support of the US, i.e. it’s a “soft power” question. The military aid may be largely symbolic, at this point. Mearsheimer makes this point, as I have made it, in an address he gave to a Palestinian audience on April 29, 2010.

Quote:

The bottom line is that Israel will not be able to maintain itself as an apartheid state over the long term, because it will not be able to depend on the American Jewish community to defend its loathsome policies toward the Palestinians. And without that protection, Israel is doomed, because public opinion in the West will turn decisively against Israel, as it turns itself into a full-fledged apartheid state.
Mead believes that favorable public opinion in the West is not essential to Israel’s survival, as he states in the review.

Quote:

Mearsheimer and Walt also significantly underestimate the importance of the U.S.-Israeli alliance to the United States. If Israel determined that U.S. foreign policy was shifting in a hostile direction, it would have the option of diversifying its great-power base of support. Given Israel's overwhelming military position in the Middle East, and its ability to provide a new partner with advanced U.S. weapons and intelligence information, China, Russia, and India might find an alliance with Israel well worth the cost in popularity points across the Arab world. Israel has changed partners before: it won the 1948-49 war with weapons from the Soviet bloc, partnered with France and the United Kingdom in 1956, and considered France (the source of Israel's nuclear technology) its most important ally in 1967. This potential shift is of major concern to the United States. One of the key U.S. objectives in the Middle East since World War II has been to prevent any other outside power from gaining a strategic foothold there. Alliances between other great powers and Israel -- the dominant military power in the world's most vital and crisis-ridden region -- could create major problems for U.S. foreign policy and significantly reduce the United States' ability to advance the Middle East peace process. Accordingly, maintaining the United States' relationship with Israel while managing its costs is the real challenge for U.S. policy in the Middle East.
Mead’s overall point in the review seems to be that the US has almost no leverage over Israel. David rules Goliath. He agrees with W&M that the economic/military contribution of the US to Israel is no longer at all crucial to Israel, and Israel does not need the moral cover of the US government, or of its Jewish community. It can turn elsewhere.

I don’t see how the views of W&M and those of Mead can be reconciled, just as regards the amount of leverage the US can exert on Israel. US diplomatic support of Israel, and the related special relationship between the US Jewish community and Israel, are either crucial to Israel’s survival, or they are not. If, on the one hand, Israel becomes more and more an apartheid state, and if it then were to turn to China and/or India, with no Jewish populations, as its primary source(s) of diplomatic and military support in the world, it seems to me that the implications for Israeli society are quite dire. It does not seem feasible to me. I think there would be a mass emigration of the more secular Israelis to Western countries or the Western hemisphere generally.

What do you think Mead means when he says,

Quote:

One of the key U.S. objectives in the Middle East since World War II has been to prevent any other outside power from gaining a strategic foothold there. Alliances between other great powers and Israel -- the dominant military power in the world's most vital and crisis-ridden region -- could create major problems for U.S. foreign policy…
Why is the Middle East the world’s “most vital region?” Is it because of oil, or because of something else? What advantages would accrue to China or India in allying with Israel? Why would China or India do that? Are they worried about the growing military power of the now-nuclear Iran and they’re going to use Israel as a proxy, just as the US might? This whole line of thought sounds like it’s a serious objection to W&M, who have, by hypothesis, overestimated the leverage the US could conceivably exert on Israel, not realizing that Israel has other potential great-power suitors, but I do wonder if it makes any sense whatever.

Mead had already tipped his hand with regard to Mearsheimer and anti-Semitism on his blog (September 23, 2011);

http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2011/09/23/john-mearsheimer-dances-with-the-dark/


I think it is very peculiar for Mead to be focusing on this blurb for the Atzmon book when Mearsheimer laid out so clearly in this speech of April 29, 2010, for all the world to hear, a speech that I find quite persuasive, what his thoughts are about the future of Israel-Palestine.

http://www.thejerusalemfund.org/ht/d...etails/i/10418

So I really do need to take a complete break from this discussion for about a week.


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