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  #121  
Old 12-06-2011, 06:52 PM
stephanie stephanie is offline
 
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Default Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)

For ledocs, Larison on WRM:

The current post:

Quote:
Almost two years ago, Walter Russell Mead dubbed Obama a “high Jeffersonian” to explain how he could describe Obama as a Jeffersonian. I objected to Mead’s labeling Obama as a Jeffersonian in the first place, and I doubted that this “high Jeffersonian” category existed at all. Now Mead is back to tell us that Obama is actually a Hamiltonian (via Joseph Lawler), which is what most of Mead’s critics were saying from the beginning
And here's more general criticism of the whole thing:

Quote:
Many times before I have objected to the foreign policy classifications Walter Russell Mead uses when describing different American foreign policy traditions, and this new article is a good example of why I find them so misleading and frequently inaccurate. As a shorthand, the terms can be useful up to a point, but the more I see them used the more I think that they serve to caricature and distort the positions of most of the foreign policy views in question.
Not directly relevant to anything discussed here, but I thought you might find it interesting.
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  #122  
Old 12-09-2011, 03:28 PM
stephanie stephanie is offline
 
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Default Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)

More for ledocs (and just because this seemed a good place to put it).

Jeffrey Goldberg:

Peter Beinart is right -- or a one-state solution is inevitable if settlements continue.

I agree with the broader point, but it's here for the following comment:

Quote:
And if Israelis believe that the vast majority of American Jews -- their most important supporters in the entire world -- are going to sit idly by and watch Israel permanently disenfranchise a permanently-occupied minority population, they're deluding themselves. A non-democratic Israel will not survive in this world. It's an impossibility. So Israel has a choice -- find a way to reverse the settlement process and bring about the conditions necessary to see the birth of a Palestinian state (I'm for unilateral closure of settlements but the military occupation's end will have to be negotiated with the Palestinians) or simply grant the Palestinians on the West Bank the right to vote in Israeli elections.
(I don't think Mead would call Goldberg anti-semitic.)

Following this, is a post by Ackerman who seems to have misunderstood the "Israel Lobby" thing in much the way Mead was perhaps warning it lent itself to (although he did not himself misunderstand it as Ackerman seems to here):

Quote:
This is why conspiratorial talk about the Israel Lobby seriously misses the point. The U.S. relationship with Israel is not determined by a narrow band of colluding Washington, New York and Hollywood Jews. It’s not even determined by Jews, full stop. It thrives because one of the most powerful constituencies in American politics, conservative Christians, identifies with Israel — and not with politicians who question it. You can see that, barometrically, in the GOP presidential debates, in which the candidates line up to outdo each other in vowing support for Israel and bashing Obama for his insufficient affection for Israel.
Then Larison makes the point about the "Israel Lobby" being more inclusive than many assume:

Quote:
Ackerman’s bigger mistake here is to think that the people making arguments about “the Israel Lobby” are unaware of the influence of Christian Zionists on Republican politics. Ackerman mentions Hagee in his post. Hagee’s organization, Christians United for Israel (CUFI), is a significant part of what can be termed “the Israel Lobby” since it is an advocacy organization specifically dedicated to supporting what it defines as “pro-Israel” policies.
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  #123  
Old 12-09-2011, 09:06 PM
ledocs ledocs is offline
 
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Default Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)

Thanks for these citations, Stephanie.

I am not someone who has followed Jeffrey Goldberg at all. I am surprised that he has endorsed the kernel of Beinart's video. Beinart's video (according to Goldberg's blog post), however, is consistent with Mearsheimer's speech to the Jerusalem Fund. It's just that Beinart is a [formerly/currently] Zionistic Jew, as am I, in an attenuated way, and Mearsheimer is not. I would like to see a secular, majority Jewish Israel survive. Where I may differ from many is that I think that there is a theocratic problem at the heart of Zionism, as it has developed. It's not just that Israel has become too militaristic and racist, or not sufficiently liberal-democratic, it's that it is insufficiently secular, both in its "constitution" and in its politics. I think that Gershon Gorenberg more or less agrees with me on this point, although he is an observant Jew, and I am not.

With regard to the Walt/Mearsheimer book, the question arises about its attitude to the importance of the Christian Zionist movement in determining America's policy towards Israel. My own intuition is that it is quite important, but still less important than the hardline Jewish lobby. A reason for this is that the legitimacy of Christian Zionism is derivative from the legitimacy of Jewish Zionism, although the Christian Zionists no doubt try to work their way around this problem. But secondly, this still all has to be worked out in terms of the nuts and bolts of American politics and power. And in those terms, my intuition tells me that the influence of Christian Zionism derives from the hardline American Zionists, that Christian Zionism could not be nearly as influential as it is in the absence of the hardline Jewish lobby. But showing how that works in terms of lobbying and money and elections would be a very difficult task.

I just read today about an interview that Gingrich gave to a Jewish "cable television" channel, an interview in which Obama is skewered as having supported handing over Israel to terrorists, and so on. My general view is that American policy to Israel is dominated by the politics of irrational fanatics of various kinds, some Jewish and some Christian, and by Holocaust-related guilt, a little of which goes a long way under contemporary conditions.

I think it's a little strange that Goldberg thought he had to go all out against this Atzmon fellow, and against Mearsheimer and Richard Falk for having written blurbs for his book. I'm not denying that the excerpts from the book which its detractors (Goldberg prominent among them) quote are highly incendiary. But I don't think one can look at the literature of "self-hating Jews" in the same way as one looks at the Protocols of Zion, it's just hermeneutically incorrect. And I'm guessing that there are a lot of sensitive and worthwhile passages in that book, the guy seems interesting to me, he's a very good musician, which means a lot to me, I think that's important to understanding him. I think he has been driven to a state that is close to madness because of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians, he can't wash the stain off of his own skin. So everything he writes about Israel has to be read in that light. I did watch a video he did in which he talks movingly about the Palestinian people, it's clear that he cares very deeply about this. He calls Jeffrey Goldberg, in his blog, a "former concentration camp guard." I know that he's referring there to something specific about Goldberg's service in the Israeli army, but I don't know to what, exactly. Putting this differently, I don't see Atzmon as the sort of person who would have been a Nazi collaborator, who would have handed over Jews to save his own skin, his "self-hatred" does not extend that far. I think that Atzmon's book probably deserves to be read and understood on its own, highly peculiar terms.

I have talked a lot about books that I have not read, not a good idea.
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Last edited by ledocs; 12-09-2011 at 09:13 PM..
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  #124  
Old 12-10-2011, 04:40 PM
stephanie stephanie is offline
 
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Default Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)

Quote:
Originally Posted by ledocs View Post
Thanks for these citations, Stephanie.

I am not someone who has followed Jeffrey Goldberg at all. I am surprised that he has endorsed the kernel of Beinart's video.
I don't follow him all that closely, but I was somewhat surprised too. I think it speaks to how there's been a change going on in the nature of our Israel support, a change that worries even people like Jeffrey Goldberg. (I like Goldberg more than many in these parts, I think, but I do perceive him as to my right on the general I/P issue, and I'm not especially out of the mainstream for the US.)

Quote:
I think that Gershon Gorenberg more or less agrees with me on this point, although he is an observant Jew, and I am not.
Yes, that's also what I understood him as saying.

Quote:
With regard to the Walt/Mearsheimer book, the question arises about its attitude to the importance of the Christian Zionist movement in determining America's policy towards Israel. My own intuition is that it is quite important, but still less important than the hardline Jewish lobby. A reason for this is that the legitimacy of Christian Zionism is derivative from the legitimacy of Jewish Zionism, although the Christian Zionists no doubt try to work their way around this problem. But secondly, this still all has to be worked out in terms of the nuts and bolts of American politics and power. And in those terms, my intuition tells me that the influence of Christian Zionism derives from the hardline American Zionists, that Christian Zionism could not be nearly as influential as it is in the absence of the hardline Jewish lobby. But showing how that works in terms of lobbying and money and elections would be a very difficult task.
You and I disagree about this -- I think since 9/11 in particular there's been a change. But also there's been an effort by the Israeli right and Jewish right to cultivate Christian Zionism. How much the popularity of Israel and hawkish Israeli policies with the Christian right relates to Christian Zionism is unclear to me, however -- I think one could be not into the religious aspects but still be motivated by certain other aspects of the policies given general rightwing foreign policy post 9/11.

I am willing to say I don't know, however. I'm just basing my view on what makes sense to me about American politics and especially Republican politics. I'd be interested in some real journalism and scholarly studies.
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  #125  
Old 12-14-2011, 01:03 PM
ledocs ledocs is offline
 
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Default Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)

Here it is, Israel on the road to apartheid, according to noted anti-Semite Thomas Friedman. Applause for Netanyahu in Congress "bought and paid for by Israel lobby." Republicans outdoing one another to appeal to the basest and stupidest instincts of American know-nothings. Friedman dares to distinguish between American interests and those of Israel.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/14/op...r.html?_r=1&hp

I just want to point out that the ground has shifted on "the Israel lobby," primarily because of Walt and Mearsheimer, whatever their book's faults may be, so Mead's assertion in his review that the book would stifle debate was wildly incorrect, preposterously incorrect. Friedman is in a position to know something about the Israel lobby.
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Last edited by ledocs; 12-14-2011 at 01:09 PM..
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  #126  
Old 12-14-2011, 02:07 PM
stephanie stephanie is offline
 
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Default Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)

I know I should stop, but I can't seem to help myself.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ledocs View Post
Here it is, Israel on the road to apartheid, according to noted anti-Semite Thomas Friedman.
I think you are mischaracterizing the argument here. No one, certainly not Walter in the diavlog we've been talking about, has suggested that being critical of Israel makes one an anti-semite. Indeed, it's common these days for people generally seen as extremely pro Israel (like Jeffrey Goldberg, like many who would be placed in the "Israel Lobby" by W&M, which may well include Thomas Friedman himself) to make the kinds of points Friedman is here. That's because American opinon has moved so far and so irrationally on these issues in recent years in some camps, at least, which I think can be seen in the love-in for Bibi and the campaign in the current Republican race to be seen as Bibi's bestest friend ever, as well as in the bizarre reaction to Obama's speech that you've mentioned here.

My view continues to be that in understanding this change we have to look beyond the traditional support of groups like AIPAC.

Quote:
I just want to point out that the ground has shifted on "the Israel lobby," primarily because of Walt and Mearsheimer...
Not primarily because of W&M, IMO. Because the debate has moved so that people like Jeffrey Goldberg can be seen as on the left in some ways for taking positions that seem just common sense about what would be in the best interest of Israel, as well as the US.

We've been talking about Gingrich's comments in another thread, and even though he made them originally to some Jewish network, I think they make more sense if considered in light of the kind of candidate he is trying to portray himself as and whose support he really needs. Sure, donations from some Jewish Republican donors are nice, but it hardly explains why the Republicans are saying things that people like Joe Lieberman find over the top, going well beyond what the Dems -- who get more money from Jewish donors, one assumes -- would say (especially at the risk of worrying the establishment types). The better explanation is Evangelicals. In her diavlog, Amy Sullivan brought up the fact that Newt has been presenting himself as a champion of Christian Conservatives by playing up the Christians as a put-upon group in the US, and a certain segment of Christian Zionists -- much more than Jews in the US, IMO -- see the Palestinians as interlopers in the region, the kind of thing Newt's language was meant to show sympathy with.
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  #127  
Old 12-14-2011, 09:18 PM
ledocs ledocs is offline
 
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Default Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)

Yes, I'll grant that the Repubs are playing to the Christian Zionists. Fine. But I still think that if you take AIPAC and the rest of the hardline Jewish portion of the Israel lobby out of the equation, the Christian Zionists lose their cover, they are revealed as the lunatics that they are. There are districts where this loss of cover makes no difference, and there are districts where it does. I know that you think 9/11 gave more power to the Christian Zionists, I get that, and that seems likely, but I don't think it overrides my point. Let's put it this way. Christian Zionists were not at high levels in the Bush Administration (apart, perhaps, from The Decider himself), but Jewish neocons were. Obviously, there is this alliance between the hardline American Jews and the Christian Zionists, a marriage of convenience, and the power of this marriage of convenience was ascendant post 9/11, when Israel and the US shared, by hypothesis, an interest in combating Islamo-terrorism.

Thomas Friedman was not talking about the Israel lobby, pre-Walt/Mearsheimer, full stop. They put this issue on the map, they are the ones who are responsible for highlighting the distinction between US interests and Israel's interests. No one else. Certainly not Walter fucking Mead.

I'll tell this story again. I was recently in NYC. At about 38th Street near Chelsea Piers was a huge billboard showing Obama shaking hands with an Arab, and the caption was, "Obama, not a friend of Israel." That billboard, I'll wager, is not being funded by Christian Zionists, although it could be, nothing prevents it.
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  #128  
Old 12-14-2011, 10:06 PM
ledocs ledocs is offline
 
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Default Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)

...And what is more, I just did a Google search on “Thomas Friedman Israel lobby.” The magazine to which you subscribe, Stephanie, the Norman Podhoretz rag, associates this Friedman column unambiguously with the anti-Semitism of Walt-Mearsheimer. It took exactly five seconds to show that you are wrong and I am right, that the Jewish hardliners, and their co-conspirator Mead, are looking for anti-Semites under every bed, just in the way that McCarthy looked for communists. It’s all too familiar, and it’s revolting and pathetic. These people are despicable. That Mead review, and the segment on bhtv about which we have been arguing, was just like McCarthy waving his secret list of communist sympathizers. Mead's review proceeded entirely by innuendo as regards the alleged anti-Semitism of Walt/Mearsheimer.

Quote:
By alleging that the support of American politicians, from the Republican presidential candidates to the bipartisan coalition in Congress, has been “bought and paid for by the Israeli lobby,” he [sc. Thomas Friedman] has slid down the slippery slope from legitimate criticism of Israeli policies and the arguments of the state’s friends to a position indistinguishable from the anti-Semitic smears of Israel Lobby authors Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer​.
http://www.commentarymagazine.com/20...rael-part-two/

...and more, from the same mealy-mouthed creep:

Quote:
Israel is an imperfect society, but the idea that its imperfections should cause American Jews or Americans in general to back away from it are [sic, the creep forgot what the subject of his sentence was] without substance. More than that, it reflects an urge to judge it by a double standard that would not be applied to our own country or any other. Treating the one Jewish state in this manner is indistinguishable from any other variety of the prejudice that we rightly term anti-Semitic.
So it's OK to criticize Israel, just not "to back away from it." Israel is an imperfect democracy all right, one that has 2.5 million people kept under military siege. So it's OK to criticize and kibbutz, just not to change Israel's policies. "Unconditional support. No double standards." Fuck, fuck, fuck. Don't you see how insane this is, that Thomas Friedman is now a dangerous anti-Israel leftist who is a fellow-traveler with anti-Semites?
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  #129  
Old 12-15-2011, 12:22 AM
stephanie stephanie is offline
 
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Default Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)

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Originally Posted by ledocs View Post
Don't you see how insane this is, that Thomas Friedman is now a dangerous anti-Israel leftist who is a fellow-traveler with anti-Semites?
Of course I do. What I don't understand is why you are suggesting that I would sympathize with such idiotic views. (I never said I agree with the politics of Commentary, for heaven's sake, and it's not like I haven't been perfectly explicit about my own views on I/P.)

I don't at all deny -- in fact, I think I agreed, upthread -- that it's possible to find people reacting ridiculously to any criticism of Israel. (I think I've pointed that out in debates on this forum with people doing just that.) I'm simply saying that that's not what I've been arguing and not what I perceived the argument in the diavlog to be about.

On Friedman and whether he'd be talking about this stuff without W&M, I don't see why not. He was critical of Israel in From Beirut to Jerusalem, years ago, and when the reaction in the US was much more related to the Jewish population and organizations like AIPAC, I believe. My memory -- which could be wrong, it's been years since I read the book -- is that he talked about the reaction to his critical articles and how they were hard for him, given the idea of Israel he was raised with. I don't see this as such a shift, then, except to the extent that US policy has shifted to the kinds of things he was talking about. But I will check the book which I have somewhere.
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  #130  
Old 12-15-2011, 01:06 AM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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Default Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)

Quote:
My memory -- which could be wrong, it's been years since I read the book -- is that he talked about the reaction to his critical articles and how they were hard for him, given the idea of Israel he was raised with.
This is one reason to be optimistic regarding the younger generation of Diaspora Jews. They will be far less susceptible to emotional blackmail from the Zionist right. My generation grew up with the idea that Israel was the only known antidote for Zyklon B, and that Hitler and Stalin were just what Jews could always expect from the West. "Betraying" Israel by criticizing Zionism was almost unthinkable. That era is over.
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  #131  
Old 12-17-2011, 02:22 PM
stephanie stephanie is offline
 
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Default Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)

Following up, Friedman annoys me as much as anyone, but I checked From Beirut to Jerusalem, which was a book I liked a lot in the late 90s, and -- despite being written in '89, with a chapter added in '95 to address the young Clinton admin -- it has what struck me at the time and still strikes me as a good discussion of why the US's Israeli policy and reaction to Israel news is what it is. Much better than M&W, without even attempting to be a scholarly study. I continue to think -- strongly -- that things have changed in the US since 9/11, but that Friedman is willing to discuss this stuff and how he does is worth considering. 9/11 rather obviously had an effect on his views for a while too.
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  #132  
Old 12-18-2011, 11:03 PM
ledocs ledocs is offline
 
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Default Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)

All well and good, but what I said was that Friedman would not have put that sentence in his column about the Israel lobby pre-W&M. I was in the process of researching the truth-value of my statement when I got waylaid by the blog post by Tobin (son of James?) on the "Commentary" website. More generally, the main points that Friedman made in that column were lifted straight out of W&M. Could he have had these thoughts independently? Yes. Did he? I don't think so, not all of them, and especially not the sentence about the lobby.

Here is the point. Mead admits that there is a specifically Jewish lobby. How could he not? So the lobby is trying to achieve something, isn't it, it's not just spinning its wheels, trying to achieve nothing, or simply providing information and not attempting to influence candidates and elections? But now if we say that it's too powerful, that's anti-Semitic. So, as I said before, the entire question is one of assessing its actual achievements and power, nothing more, nothing less.

To repeat myself, if Mead had said that W&M's effort was courageous, admirable, and wrong, that would have been fine. He had to add that it was "immoral," and then he had to go on to imply rather forcefully that Mearsheimer, at least, is an anti-Semite. But Friedman says exactly what W&M say. So now he's an anti-Semite, too, per Tobin. Which is exactly what I predicted would be said. To repeat myself again, there is an additional Catch-22 here. W&M are anti-Semites because they make false allegations against Jews by attributing too much power to them (per Mead). Would they be less anti-Semitic if they made true, i.e. proved allegations of disproportionate political power of [rich] Jews? I don't think so. That would be more anti-Semitic than a false allegation, supposing for the moment that we can imagine what a proved allegation looks like in this case. Therefore, no allegation of disproportionate political power of rich American Jews is possible, unless the allegation is simultaneously anti-Semitic. The truth-value has no bearing on the question of anti-Semitism, which represents a problem, in my view. The whole question cannot be subjected to analysis, it's impossible, in practical terms.

Similar considerations could lead to similar statements about "the civil rights lobby," but the Jewish thing has a special valence, because of the Holocaust.
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  #133  
Old 12-19-2011, 05:23 AM
Florian Florian is offline
 
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Default Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)

Quote:
Originally Posted by ledocs View Post
...... Therefore, no allegation of disproportionate political power of rich American Jews is possible, unless the allegation is simultaneously anti-Semitic. The truth-value has no bearing on the question of anti-Semitism, which represents a problem, in my view. The whole question cannot be subjected to analysis, it's impossible, in practical terms.
There must be a good Jewish joke about such double-binds. Perhaps the Marx brothers?

Seriously, though, I think you are right to question the dubious logic of Mead and others when they fling around the accusation of anti-Semitism when all they mean to say is that they approve wholeheartedly of US foreign policy with regard to Israel and disapprove wholeheartedly of anyone who questions that policy, however timidly. It is very much the perverse logic of the old Cold Warriors and the "Committee on UnAmerican Activities" when even timid critiques of American foreign policy could earn you the accusation of being socialist or communist or whatever is "unamerican." It is such a crude rhetorical gesture that I am always amazed that people fall for it.
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  #134  
Old 12-19-2011, 12:20 PM
stephanie stephanie is offline
 
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Default Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)

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Originally Posted by ledocs View Post
To repeat myself, if Mead had said that W&M's effort was courageous, admirable, and wrong, that would have been fine.
This was largely his initial reaction -- the "wrongness" relating in large part of the badly-defined nature of the "Lobby" and the lack of discussion as to how it actually works. I realize that you dislike the fact that he noted that one problem with the poorly-defined nature of the Lobby and vague discussion of its power is that it would likely call into mind traditional anti-semitic accusations and thus detract from the message, from the part of the argument that Mead at least initially saw as potentially valuable, but again I think that's just common sense and closely related to the specific problems Mead pointed out.

Now, clearly, Mead's view of the whole thing has evolved since that initial review, and part of that is his analysis of Mearsheimer's actions since then, including the recommendation of that book.

But what Mead said was "immoral" was not discussion of "the Israel Lobby" in the way Friedman did or the numerous comments about AIPAC that have been made since long before M&W wrote their article and book. He said it's wrong and -- if one does or should know better -- immoral to attribute the US's foreign policy re Israel to some vaguely defined powerful group of Jews. It is in part immoral to do this -- as I understood his comment -- because it ignores the much broader reasons for the US's action, ignores the reasons why the US may see these things as in its interest (this is part of the argument, but to show it's not one has to be a lot more specific than the kinds of comments Mead was referring to usually are), AND -- and I don't see why this doesn't bug you more -- because it suggests that there is some monolithic "Jewish" opinion when obviously there is not. Indeed, W&M seem to lump in the "Israel Lobby" groups that have quite different takes on what is in the interest of the US and of Israel.

Quote:
But Friedman says exactly what W&M say.
Friedman is not saying what Mead called "immoral." Also, of course, the comments take place in context, and Friedman has said lots and lots of things about the US's Israel policy. It's clear he isn't making the argument that Mead called "immoral."

Quote:
W&M are anti-Semites because they make false allegations against Jews by attributing too much power to them (per Mead).
Mead didn't say that.

Quote:
Therefore, no allegation of disproportionate political power of rich American Jews is possible, unless the allegation is simultaneously anti-Semitic.
People on both sides of this issue say such things all the time. For example, the right was crowing not long ago that Obama was unpopular among Jews and that was going to hurt him wrt donations. The complaint Mead had was more nuanced.

That said, it's odd to focus on "rich Jews" specifically and solely when considering this topic, since again it's a lot more complicated than that and there's a diversity of opinion among Jews, rich or not, rather obviously. It makes more sense to actually focus on how the "Lobby" actually works and affects policy and that includes a whole host of factors. It is simply doing a better analysis that would seem to me to protect against the "anti-semitic" accusation from all but the self-evidently silly (of which of course there are plenty, but they don't seem to me to have the power against their opponents -- in the scholarly, not the political field -- that you see).
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  #135  
Old 12-19-2011, 01:15 PM
Florian Florian is offline
 
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Default Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)

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Originally Posted by stephanie View Post
But what Mead said was "immoral" was not discussion of "the Israel Lobby" in the way Friedman did or the numerous comments about AIPAC that have been made since long before M&W wrote their article and book. He said it's wrong and -- if one does or should know better -- immoral to attribute the US's foreign policy re Israel to some vaguely defined powerful group of Jews. It is in part immoral to do this -- as I understood his comment -- because it ignores the much broader reasons for the US's action, ignores the reasons why the US may see these things as in its interest.
How is it immoral for experts on international relations to disagree about what harms or advances the American national interest in the ME? That is, after all, the kernel of the debate between W/M and their opponents. And why is it immoral to say that an organisation like AIPAC wields disproportionate influence in the formation of American policy in the ME? It may be right or wrong (correct or incorrect) to say this, but it is certainly not immoral, unless of course you assume that the only conceivable motivation for saying that the American national interest isn't served by AIPAC and others is anti-semitism.

Last edited by Florian; 12-19-2011 at 01:18 PM..
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  #136  
Old 12-19-2011, 02:12 PM
stephanie stephanie is offline
 
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Default Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)

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Originally Posted by Florian View Post
How is it immoral for experts on international relations to disagree about what harms or advances the American national interest in the ME?
Of course it's not. Again, I think Mead's point was a lot more limited than people are making it.

Quote:
That is, after all, the kernel of the debate between W/M and their opponents.
I wish it were. It seems not to be, and not to be in part because W&M do not have a concrete definition of the "Israel Lobby" and how it works. What I'm arguing is that more detailed work -- the kind of exploration that it seems ledocs and I would both favor -- would protect against the "immoral" accusation, not draw it, at least not from Mead himself. (And again, W&M don't limit their "Israel Lobby" to a collection of Jewish lobbies, and thus W&M were not who Mead was initially referring to with his "immoral" comment. Glenn brought up W&M as support -- mistakenly, IMO -- for his initial description, and rather than merely pointing out that the "Israel Lobby" includes Christian Zionists, etc., Mead went off on a tangent about his current issues with Mearsheimer.)

Quote:
And why is it immoral to say that an organisation like AIPAC wields disproportionate influence in the formation of American policy in the ME?
Again, I don't think anyone was claiming that that statement alone is immoral.

It's impossible to talk about these things without it being within a much broader context. If we talk about the influence of lobbies, including ethnically-related or religiously-associated lobbies, on foreign policy, I don't think talking about AIPAC comes across as problematic at all. If we talk about the real ways that lobbying activities by specific groups affect the actions of politicians or how various factors influence how issues get presented, again, I don't think that's what is being criticized.

Again, adding specifics prevents the "immoral" criticism from appearing (to me, anyway) at all valid. Phrasing it in the general way that Glenn did initially, while not particularly worth criticism given the context -- context that shows that Glenn is not anti-semitic -- does seem to me to make the actual discussion of the question that he was really interested in less likely. That question being why the disconnect between US policy and what Glenn's natural instincts and sympathies are, as well as between US policy and what Glenn sees as in the US's best interests.

Part of the reason for this disconnect is that there are a chorus of voices that see even the slightest departure from support for the most hardline things Israel might due as "anti-Israel" or "an attack on Israel" and -- for reasons that we could discuss -- those are accusations that politicians seem to perceive as very harmful to them. Lost donations are probably part of this, but I think there's more to it. And I think that things have clearly become more this way recently, even when the views of American Jews, especially the younger generation ones, seem to have become both less concerned with Israel and more willing to criticize Israel on average.
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Old 12-19-2011, 04:51 PM
ledocs ledocs is offline
 
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Default Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)

Stephanie said:

Quote:
AND -- and I don't see why this [sc. Walt & Mearsheimer's writing] doesn't bug you more -- because it suggests that there is some monolithic "Jewish" opinion when obviously there is not. Indeed, W&M seem to lump in the "Israel Lobby" groups that have quite different takes on what is in the interest of the US and of Israel.
It doesn't bug me, because I don't think it's terribly relevant, as I have said over and over. I'll have to read the entire W&M book, first of all. The hardliners control Jewish opinion in political terms, that's the point. It doesn't matter what I think, what Wonderment thinks, what Richard Falk thinks, what Noam Chomsky thinks, what Norman Finkelstein thinks, what any of the "righteous Jews" referred to by Mearsheimer in his April, 2010 speech to the Jerusalem Fund think. We don't matter. Jewish opinion may as well have been monolithic for the past twenty-thirty years. The politics may be changing now, I think, and Friedman's column could well be a milestone there, and W&M paved the way for that column.

The reason for focusing on rich Jews as components of the Lobby is that they are the most important in funding the Lobby's activities and in organizing campaign contributions. As I said before, Mead's one-man, one-vote approach to the American Jewish community and its politics is laughably stupid and incorrect, more stupid than any alleged monocausal explanation for America's Israel policy that emerges from W&M.

Friedman has been a long-time protege of Michael Mandelbaum in the field of IR. He has been citing Mandelbaum as his inspiration for years, and now they are collaborating on a book. Mandelbaum was a founding member of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, identified by W&M as as prominent member of the Israel Lobby. In addition, Friedman's wife is/was heir to a large [Jewish] real estate fortune in the Midwest. Friedman would have been exposed every which way to Israel-related fundraising and political influence as regards Israel, and at the highest levels. I would be surprised if Friedman did not owe his plum assignment as Mideast correspondent to his connections with "The Lobby," speaking broadly (again, a necessary but insufficient condition for getting the assignment). So, given all this, that Friedman would write the sentence he wrote about congressional applause for Netanyahu being bought and paid for by the Lobby speaks volumes. Friedman has had enough.

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Old 12-20-2011, 01:01 PM
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Default Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)

http://campaignstops.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/19/deep-pockets-deeply-political/?hp
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Old 12-20-2011, 02:41 PM
stephanie stephanie is offline
 
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Default Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)

I think our disagreements are fleshed out enough that I'm mostly willing to leave it, but just to highlight:

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The politics may be changing now, I think, and Friedman's column could well be a milestone there, and W&M paved the way for that column.
This is where I most disagree. I don't see a roughly consistent US policy marked with one primary explanation, vs. a US attitude toward Israel that has become more extreme over time due to somewhat varying causes. Nor do I think it makes sense to attribute the reaction to the more extreme US attitude to W&M, as opposed to the extremity itself.

But despite this, I think we agree on the problem itself, that the reaction against it is beneficial (even if we might not agree on how far it should go or the language it should use), and that a more concrete cause and effect examination of the power of lobbies, etc. on these issues would be useful and interesting.
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Old 12-22-2011, 02:07 PM
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Default Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)

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This is where I most disagree. I don't see a roughly consistent US policy marked with one primary explanation, vs. a US attitude toward Israel that has become more extreme over time due to somewhat varying causes.
But there has been a consistent US policy since 1967 to oppose the West Bank settlements in word, but not in deed. 9/11 may have made imposition of leverage by the US more difficult, but then $4 gas may have done the opposite.

Quote:
Nor do I think it makes sense to attribute the reaction to the more extreme US attitude to W&M, as opposed to the extremity itself.
I don't understand this sentence. But I don't think there is "a more extreme US attitude." There is one consistent official US attitude, that the settlements are not helpful. It's just that the US either cannot or will not exert pressure to stop them. Little has changed in 35 years on the US side. Israel has become much more right-wing, and the Arab side has generally become less militant and more realistic. I don't think that Obama had to back down from Netanyahu because of increased power of the Christian Zionists and a rightward move of the Republican Party generally, or of the Republican Party's attitude toward the Islamic world or Hamas/Hezbollah post 9/11. Obama was never going to get votes from Christian Zionists. On the other hand, there are articles in the NYT suggesting that support for Obama among Jewish voters has fallen a great deal since 2008, particularly in the state of New York. Is that because of Christian Zionists?

Stephanie, there are specific points I have made to which you make no response. It either is or is not the case that Thomas Friedman said anything like what he just said about the Israel Lobby before W&M published their article and book. I suspect, but do not know, that Friedman just broke new ground there, and I attribute this breaking of new ground to W&M. I don't think there is anything remotely unreasonable about making this connection. It is quite possible that Mandelbaum thinks that W&M are getting a raw deal from the Zionist propaganda crowd, for example, that Mandelbaum thinks the anti-Semitic angle is unnecessary, or even outrageous. In any case, it is crystal-clear that Friedman thinks there is more to the Israel Lobby idea than you do. It is clearly the case that W&M were trying to break a taboo, they have explicitly said this, and I think they have succeeded, in part.

Another point I made had to do with Barbara Boxer's record on Israel. I think it is reasonable to think that, in the absence of the Israel lobby, Boxer would have said and done some things over the years that could have been portrayed as "pro-Palestinian" or "even-handed," something. But I am not aware of anything like this ever having happened. Or, we could look at Paul Wellstone and see what the record was there. Or, Russ Feingold. You cannot account for the monolithic, blank-check support that Israel gets from the US on the grounds of increased power of Christian Zionism or anti-Islamic feeling post 9-11. This stuff has been going on since 1967, as I say.

Opposable Crumbs cited a long piece that Norman Finkelstein posted at Z-Net, I think it's called. In that piece, NF reports a disagreement that he and Chomsky have about why the US appears to do nothing about the West Bank settlements. The two of them agree that no one in the US government would be upset if the settlements were rolled back, everyone agrees that this would be in the US interest. So Finkelstein attributes this aspect of US policy to the Israel Lobby, but he thinks that W&M went too far (as I do not) in attributing any part of the motivation for the war in Iraq to the Israel Lobby. It was not clear to me from NF's post what Chomsky's explanation for US inaction on the West Bank settlements is.
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Old 12-22-2011, 03:23 PM
stephanie stephanie is offline
 
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But there has been a consistent US policy since 1967 to oppose the West Bank settlements in word, but not in deed.
I think this ignores changes, both because it's one part of the issue, because the reason for the US feeling bound in the region have changed, and because -- as you note -- Israeli politics have changed themselves. I also think there's a lot more open support or acceptance of the settlements in the US (especially on the right) today than ever before. When Israel appeals to its supports in the US, there seems to be a much greater recognition that there's potential acceptance in some quarters of the more extreme arguments. Official US policy hasn't changed, but I think the current support on the right is to the right of George W and way to the right of George HW, and Obama, despite being basically the same as everyone else, is getting a much different kind of criticism.

Quote:
9/11 may have made imposition of leverage by the US more difficult, but then $4 gas may have done the opposite.
You may think it is foolish, but expensive gas is not connected in the US mind with settling the I/P issue and, in any case, I don't think most people feel like the US can do much about the issue.

Quote:
On the other hand, there are articles in the NYT suggesting that support for Obama among Jewish voters has fallen a great deal since 2008, particularly in the state of New York. Is that because of Christian Zionists?
No, but as was discussed when those numbers were talked about earlier, it's also presumption to attribute those numbers to Israel, especially since -- as you seem to agree -- Obama is not pursuing a different Israel policy than anyone else has.

Quote:
It either is or is not the case that Thomas Friedman said anything like what he just said about the Israel Lobby before W&M published their article and book.
He said things that seem to me entirely consistent with what he said there, given the new events, specifically such things as Congress's reaction to Bibi, the debate between Republican candidates over who loves Bibi more, the insane reaction to Obama's comments that you and I both talked about here. He certainly talked about the influence of AIPAC and Israel's own PR efforts. Of course, he also has talked about other reasons for the focus on and pro Israel attitudes in the US, both within the Jewish community and outside of it. I don't think that he used the term "Israel Lobby" means his views have become less nuanced and more like W&M seemed to be arguing.

It is this nuance -- the importance not only of Christian Zionism in the new attitudes on the US right, but also the wider reasons for the general pro Israel (or anti Palestinian) attitude in popular opinion in the US well beyond the "Israel Lobby" or Jews -- that seems to me lacking in the W&M approach. Why I don't think it's a FULL explanation for the fact that politicians basically across the board are so one-sided here. After all, the politicians you mention as ones you think would naturally have supported the Palestinians have bucked interest groups in other areas, I'm sure. AIPAC et al. really cannot be the whole explanation, or they'd either be the most powerful interest group ever or there'd be a lot less opposition to other PAC backed issues than there are. Similarly, apparently you think that the only reason I saw that attitude among the almost entirely gentile (and non Christian Zionist) folks I grew up around is because of brainwashing by the Lobby. That, to me, is nonsense. It's clear it's more complicated. Similarly, that the right machine seems to have become much more focused on Israel seems to me to suggest there's more going on that the Lobby, than politics as always.

And I simply see no evidence that -- outside of the one phrase that seems far more significant to you than me -- he wouldn't have written the column you've talked about without W&M. Other people who aren't especially considered W&M fans (like Goldberg, as mentioned above) have become much more critical of the kinds of weird extremism and unwillingness to criticize the Israeli right about anything that seems to me new to US politics.

Quote:
I suspect, but do not know, that Friedman just broke new ground there, and I attribute this breaking of new ground to W&M.
I understand you think this. I disagree.
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  #142  
Old 12-22-2011, 09:21 PM
Ray in Seattle Ray in Seattle is offline
 
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Default Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)

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I think this ignores changes, both because it's one part of the issue, because the reason for the US feeling bound in the region have changed, and because -- as you note -- Israeli politics have changed themselves. I also think there's a lot more open support or acceptance of the settlements in the US (especially on the right) today than ever before. When Israel appeals to its supports in the US, there seems to be a much greater recognition that there's potential acceptance in some quarters of the more extreme arguments. Official US policy hasn't changed, but I think the current support on the right is to the right of George W and way to the right of George HW, and Obama, despite being basically the same as everyone else, is getting a much different kind of criticism.
If I may offer a suggestion (in support of your comment I think). Since 9/11 I suspect that more Americans have been more interested in this topic and have been reading and listening to more opinions. Americans have noticed a few things that seemed below the radar for most of us pre 9/11.

One is that when Muslims are attacking Americans by flying jetliners into buildings full of civilians - or attacking Jews by bombing civilian buses in Israel - they all seem to yell out "Allah hu Akbar" in the seconds before the detonation.

I'm sure there are many possible reasons that can be devised for why Americans support Israel 4:1 against the Palestinians but such strong cultural beliefs are always based on (usually a pattern of) emotionally potent events - as perceived by those under threat. It's really much simpler than the "Jewish Lobby" canard which for most Americans is just so much political BS by anti-Israel academic elites. Don't forget that when people develop a deep dislike for certain types - they are not likely to put any energy at all into parsing their logical arguments on such things. I'd say that even many Democrats find the progressive left's love for anti-western terrorists disgusting. All the convoluted logic in the world is completely impotent against the stark and honest and terrifying emotional reality expressed in the bolded paragraph above.

I think average Americans are much closer to saying the hell with the Palestinians. Closer to saying "Let Israel do whatever it needs to do to end the conflict with those fanatics once and for all" - than they are likely to listen to convoluted reality-challenged accusations by far-left ideologues who never met an anti-Jew terrorist they didn't apologize for, if not approve of.

I guess my message is this. If someone wants to convince anybody that Israel is in the wrong on this whole topic - they need to get very basic and start appealing to core beliefs - the beliefs that define their target's identity. And they need to use emotionally powerful messages. Forget the tortured Walt/Mearsheimer discussions about political lobbies and bought politicians. Most Americans don't give a damn about that stuff. Americans understand intuitively that if it was possible to buy politicians' votes (votes that would get them un-elected in the next election) - the far-left would have bought those votes long ago. Most Americans see that the far-left is just whining because they don't have the support of the large majority of Americans and they just can't accept that it's simply because Americans see them as being full of crap on the merits - in terms of what's best for Americans' self-interest.
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Old 12-22-2011, 09:38 PM
Ray in Seattle Ray in Seattle is offline
 
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Most Americans see that the far-left is just whining because they don't have the support of the large majority of Americans and they just can't accept that it's simply because Americans see them as being full of crap on the merits - in terms of what's best for American's self-interest.
To expand on this just a bit. Loury illustrates this disconnect from reality very well. He said (paraphrasing) don't Americans see that the Arabs have all the oil and perhaps we'd be better off doing what it takes to be their friends? I must admit that my stomach turned over when I heard that - just as it does when I read comments by some here to that same effect. Does Loury really think that the average American would think it's a good thing to sell out our friends and allies for (possibly a few months of) cheaper gas at the pump? I think it's an argument that only a progressive lefty could make with a straight face. And when they make it most Americans become even stronger supporters of Israel - and develop an even stronger disgust with the left side of American politics, if that's possible.
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Old 12-23-2011, 05:46 AM
Florian Florian is offline
 
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Originally Posted by Ray in Seattle View Post
To expand on this just a bit. Loury illustrates this disconnect from reality very well. He said (paraphrasing) don't Americans see that the Arabs have all the oil and perhaps we'd be better off doing what it takes to be their friends? I must admit that my stomach turned over when I heard that - just as it does when I read comments by some here to that same effect. Does Loury really think that the average American would think it's a good thing to sell out our friends and allies for (possibly a few months of) cheaper gas at the pump? I think it's an argument that only a progressive lefty could make with a straight face. And when they make it most Americans become even stronger supporters of Israel - and develop an even stronger disgust with the left side of American politics, if that's possible.
I think that most of your so-called arguments for the unconditional support of Israel could not be made with a straight face either, but yet you continue to make them. Now I learn that you have the full backing of the American people to justify your arguments. That explains a lot. You have already repeatedly told us that you think with your gut---or is it your mysterious and unknowable brain?---but now I think I have a better understanding of the source of your "thoughts."
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Old 12-23-2011, 05:47 AM
Florian Florian is offline
 
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Originally Posted by Ray in Seattle View Post
To expand on this just a bit. Loury illustrates this disconnect from reality very well. He said (paraphrasing) don't Americans see that the Arabs have all the oil and perhaps we'd be better off doing what it takes to be their friends? I must admit that my stomach turned over when I heard that - just as it does when I read comments by some here to that same effect. Does Loury really think that the average American would think it's a good thing to sell out our friends and allies for (possibly a few months of) cheaper gas at the pump? I think it's an argument that only a progressive lefty could make with a straight face. And when they make it most Americans become even stronger supporters of Israel - and develop an even stronger disgust with the left side of American politics, if that's possible.
I think that most of your so-called arguments for the unconditional support of Israel could not be made with a straight face either, yet you continue to make them. Now I learn that you have the full backing of the American people to justify your arguments. That explains a lot. You have already repeatedly told us that you think with your gut---or is it your mysterious and unknowable brain?---but now I think I have a better understanding of the source of your "thoughts."
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Old 12-23-2011, 05:49 AM
Florian Florian is offline
 
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Originally Posted by Ray in Seattle View Post
To expand on this just a bit. Loury illustrates this disconnect from reality very well. He said (paraphrasing) don't Americans see that the Arabs have all the oil and perhaps we'd be better off doing what it takes to be their friends? I must admit that my stomach turned over when I heard that - just as it does when I read comments by some here to that same effect. Does Loury really think that the average American would think it's a good thing to sell out our friends and allies for (possibly a few months of) cheaper gas at the pump? I think it's an argument that only a progressive lefty could make with a straight face. And when they make it most Americans become even stronger supporters of Israel - and develop an even stronger disgust with the left side of American politics, if that's possible.
I think that most of your so-called arguments for the unconditional support of Israel could not be made with a straight face either, yet you continue to make them. Now I learn that you have the full backing of the American people to justify your arguments. That explains a lot. You have already repeatedly told us that you think with your gut---or is it with your mysterious and unknowable brain?---but now I think I have a better understanding of the source of your thoughts. Vox populi americani, vox dei.

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Old 12-23-2011, 06:02 PM
ledocs ledocs is offline
 
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Default Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)

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And I simply see no evidence that -- outside of the one phrase that seems far more significant to you than me -- he wouldn't have written the column you've talked about without W&M.
Here is evidence. Use of that particular phrase engendered the anti-Semitism charge and evinced the names of W&M at the "Commentary" website. How much more evidence do you need? Now, Friedman is far from a careful writer. Nevertheless, I believe that the phrase "bought and paid for by the Israel lobby" had to have been intended to be provocative and to demonstrate that Friedman was explicitly siding with W&M in some way. Frankly, I am astounded that you refuse to see this. But this is similar to a debate in literary interpretation. I won't convince you. But, I must say, you are being tone-deaf, in my opinion. If you can show me a quote from "From Beirut to Jerusalem" or from anything else in the published opus (or even from a public speaking transcript) of Friedman that approaches this rhetoric in tone and substance and that antedates W&M, I will be quite surprised, and I might well agree that your blase attitude to the column, and to the response to it on the "Commentary" website, is justified.

On the issue of the gentiles with whom you grew up, the Jewish Israel lobby influenced them by influencing the way in which the Israel-Palestine question is framed in the media and in American politics generally. Of course, there are cultural and historical reasons that explain why American Christians might be receptive to this framing, that's obvious, and I'm not denying it. This is all part of my Jewish Lobby as necessary but insufficient condition argument. But the framing is very different in Europe, not that I am at all knowledgeable about this. I did read a sort of overview article in "Le Monde Diplomatique" a few weeks ago, and the whole slant was unlike anything in mainstream American journalism. You would have to go to Z-Net or "Counterpunch" to find its counterpart in America. In Norway, every "right-thinking" person is "pro-Palestinian," so I am reliably informed. If it were not for Holocaust guilt, I am reasonably confident that a vast majority of Germans with college degrees would be "pro-Palestinian." The point is, Israel and the US are basically alone on a diplomatic island. Even the disgraced poodle Tony Blair wanted to move the US off its dime on the Israel-Palestine question.
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Old 12-23-2011, 06:28 PM
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RISible said:

Quote:
Americans understand intuitively that if it was possible to buy politicians' votes (votes that would get them un-elected in the next election) - the far-left would have bought those votes long ago.
This has to be one of the most RISible sentences ever written. No insult, no invective, would be adequate to encompass this level of stupidity. But, you know, thanks for sharing.
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Old 12-23-2011, 07:25 PM
Ray in Seattle Ray in Seattle is offline
 
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Default Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)

Re: My previous comment:
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Originally Posted by Ray in Seattle View Post
To expand on this just a bit. Loury illustrates this disconnect from reality very well. He said (paraphrasing) don't Americans see that the Arabs have all the oil and perhaps we'd be better off doing what it takes to be their friends? I must admit that my stomach turned over when I heard that - just as it does when I read comments by some here to that same effect. Does Loury really think that the average American would think it's a good thing to sell out our friends and allies for (possibly a few months of) cheaper gas at the pump? I think it's an argument that only a progressive lefty could make with a straight face. And when they make it most Americans become even stronger supporters of Israel - and develop an even stronger disgust with the left side of American politics, if that's possible.
And like most things in life - they are far more complex than at first imagined. I've spent the morning reading about Glenn Loury, first out of simple curiosity, but now because his compelling life story (so far, and I hope he hangs around for a long time) touches on many themes discussed here that I find interesting. I have watched a few previous diavlogs where Glenn was a participant. But this last one - especially the last segment of it - really piqued my interest.

I am now reading his Jan 1986 article in Commentary "Behind the Black-Jewish Split". On page 26 he discusses the "loyalty" of immigrant sub-cultures in America - Black and Jewish. I'd like to say something on this before I finish the article.

That is, when a Democratic society agrees to accept immigrants from any ethnic group as citizens - no matter whether they immigrated via the holds of slave ships or in common steerage as refugees - their views on the ME - whatever they are, can not be disloyal, by definition. That's because those immigrants are US citizens. Their opinions are, by definition, American opinions. They can be considered right or wrong, destructive or supportive of what others deem to be American interests - but they can't be "disloyal" - at least as long as they fall within and don't attempt to subvert our Constitutional democratic system.

When someone accuses them of disloyalty they are committing a transgression against the very idea of egalitarian democracy - the values that say that all Americans are free to express their opinions on how our government is run and who should run it - within the limits of Constitutional authority, of course. To deprecate such a fundamental American value can far more justifiably be seen as un-American and a form of disloyalty - at least to American principles IMO.

And so, when someone accuses American Jews of disloyalty for their (supposed) support of Israel they are attempting to de-legitimize their participation as equal citizens. And if the accused are American Jews - who are actually under-represented in that opinion compared to non-Jewish Americans - who they don't accuse of disloyalty - then that is certainly a form of antisemitism (as Walter Mead suggested).

I need to read more before I will able to either modilfy, retract or amplify my previous comment above re: Loury's puzzlement (bolded above or click to replay that part of the diavlog) as to why Americans' love for oil does not make us more appreciative of the Arab's views vis a vis Israel and its Jews.
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Old 12-23-2011, 07:33 PM
Ray in Seattle Ray in Seattle is offline
 
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Here is evidence. Use of that particular phrase . . .
Re: #147, I realize you are not likely to take advice from me but your comments would be far easier to follow if you simply include the "reply to" pointer code some place near the top of your comments. For example, embedded at the top of this comment is "QUOTE=ledocs;235317". That way if someone is interested they can simply click on the little arrow to the right of your name above and be taken effortlessly to the comment I am replying to. i.e. hit the "QUOTE" button instead of the "REPLY" button and life gets easier for your readers. Just a suggestion.
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Old 12-23-2011, 08:36 PM
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RISible said:



This has to be one of the most RISible sentences ever written. No insult, no invective, would be adequate to encompass this level of stupidity. But, you know, thanks for sharing.
I was going to write something similiar, but if Ray really believes what he wrote...we are wasting our time.
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Old 12-23-2011, 09:04 PM
Ray in Seattle Ray in Seattle is offline
 
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Originally Posted by Ray in Seattle View Post
To expand on this just a bit. Loury illustrates this disconnect from reality very well. He said (paraphrasing) don't Americans see that the Arabs have all the oil and perhaps we'd be better off doing what it takes to be their friends? I must admit that my stomach turned over when I heard that - just as it does when I read comments by some here to that same effect. Does Loury really think that the average American would think it's a good thing to sell out our friends and allies for (possibly a few months of) cheaper gas at the pump? I think it's an argument that only a progressive lefty could make with a straight face. And when they make it most Americans become even stronger supporters of Israel - and develop an even stronger disgust with the left side of American politics, if that's possible.
I'd say my opinion on this since doing my research is amplified. Loury believes the creation of Israel was a travesty (nabka) and so while he attempts to avoid that question when confronted with it his brain consistently manufactures justifications for whatever policies would make it impossible for Israel to survive. This clip from another diavlog is pretty damning in that respect.

My overall impression is that Loury is a victim of some pretty serious identity pain in the past (that still continues) and that this has affected him in such a way that publicly attacking Israel's existence eases that pain. I'm sure he believes his views on Israel are based in the most noble morality. But the way in which he posed that question to Mead about Americans' support for Israel was very revealing.

IMO he's an object lesson in the power of one's identity beliefs to take over their cognitive system in support of those beliefs. In this case the reality of black anti-semitism is the underlying identity belief that he is publicly displaying - as a means of eliciting approval from that black community that he was seen to betray in the past. His (non-conscious) identity belief that this is what a good member in standing of the black American nation believes - and his strong need to be accepted in that community is what drives him IMO.
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Last edited by Ray in Seattle; 12-23-2011 at 11:39 PM..
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  #153  
Old 12-23-2011, 09:14 PM
Ray in Seattle Ray in Seattle is offline
 
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Default Re: Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead

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Originally Posted by Baz View Post
I was going to write something similiar, but if Ray really believes what he wrote...we are wasting our time.
I only write what I honestly believe to be true.
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  #154  
Old 12-24-2011, 12:56 AM
stephanie stephanie is offline
 
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Default Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)

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Originally Posted by ledocs View Post
Here is evidence. Use of that particular phrase engendered the anti-Semitism charge and evinced the names of W&M at the "Commentary" website. How much more evidence do you need?
See, I see this as evidence more for my argument. I think Friedman was intentionally using the term (a term that is different than "Jewish Lobby," even, which was defined -- however poorly -- by W&M to include non-Jews) to take sides in the current dialogue in the US, which is different in various ways to the traditional one. Again, I point to the changes noted in my last post, the increasing extremity on the right in the US, the reaction to Obama for statements that Friedman likely sees as mainstream and traditional US policy. I think it's this extremism and the open acceptance of such things as the settlements and idea that criticizing Bibi should be taken as worse than criticizing Ronald Reagan (for conservatives, I mean) that is driving Friedman to take a stand. Again, I point to the Goldberg posts, which show a similar movement.

Without this extremity in the US, without the Commentary arguments becoming much more mainstream than they used to be, I don't think you'd get the reaction you find positive. And I see this as quite similar to Friedman's shock at Israel's actions in Lebanon shaking up his long-held views inculcated by his childhood, the American Jewish community's ideas about Israel, etc., as discussed in FBTJ.

Quote:
Now, Friedman is far from a careful writer. Nevertheless, I believe that the phrase "bought and paid for by the Israel lobby" had to have been intended to be provocative and to demonstrate that Friedman was explicitly siding with W&M in some way. Frankly, I am astounded that you refuse to see this.
I don't. I just still see it in a different way than you do.

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But this is similar to a debate in literary interpretation. I won't convince you.
True, but I think you are exaggerating the disagreement or at least focusing on quite different things than I think the disagreement is about.

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On the issue of the gentiles with whom you grew up, the Jewish Israel lobby influenced them by influencing the way in which the Israel-Palestine question is framed in the media and in American politics generally.
And I think that over-simplifies how the media framing came above, in an unrealistic way. Again, I think AIPAC played a role, but that role wouldn't have had nearly the same effect without the numerous other conditions, including the ideas about Israel in the wider Jewish community during relevant periods of time (and which have changed), including the ideas about Israel among Christians and within American culture generally. It's not insignificant that the US historically had some ideas of itself as "the new Jerusalem." It's also not insignificant that the US was a new country built on land that was settled by colonists. It's not insignificant that American culture has many other ideas that help the stories about Israel resonate and the ones -- eventually -- about the Palestinians not so much. To really answer the question Glenn asked, I think it's important to get into these things, and not just assume it's an all-powerful lobby.

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Of course, there are cultural and historical reasons that explain why American Christians might be receptive to this framing, that's obvious, and I'm not denying it.
Yes -- I'm simply saying this is an important piece of the answer, and answers that dismiss it for the more simplistic explanation are problematic and do seem in some cases suspicious. Similarly, those that ignore the reasons we thought the foreign policy in question was in our interest -- Cold War paranoia, generally -- also strike me as strange. I'm all for considering the influence of the lobbies (as long as we acknowledge this is not unique to the Israel issue). I think it's an interesting question, as I've said over and over. I simply don't think framing the question as if the lobby was the sole answer is helpful, and not only because it makes the ridiculous "anti-semite" accusations of Commentary appear at times more reasonable, in a way that seems to me easily avoided. And yes of course part of the problem is because of historical slams against the Jews that should nonetheless not mean that we can't point out that some rich Jews, like other rich people, have a lot of political power.

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This is all part of my Jewish Lobby as necessary but insufficient condition argument.
Okay, but I note that for whatever reason of your own -- I assume cussedness or just "I will call it as I think it is and dig my heels in when I think others are refusing to" -- you are going farther than W&M by insisting that it's a "Jewish Lobby." This is like our argument over slamming rich people. I really just don't see the point -- it gives cover to unfair claims about the position without strengthening the position. But I realize this is some kind of broader difference between you and me and no doubt you find what I'm saying just as wrong or frustrating. (And I hope it's clear that I'm engaging in this discussion with you because I always find what you say interesting and respect your ideas.)

Quote:
But the framing is very different in Europe, not that I am at all knowledgeable about this.
I'm sure you are more knowledgeable than me, but I do (of course) know this. I don't think it's surprising nor that it requires a W&M-esque explanation. That said, I don't deny there's a lobby (AIPAC), other pressure groups with power, as well as a variety of other reasons why Israel gets the framing it does in the US (and simply the attention it does). I just think the broader reasons for the differences and, in particular, for the current trend that worries me, are much more complicated. This is important, because I don't think how the US acted historically is as weird as Glenn or W&M did. And it's worth pointing out that at least some of whom seem to focus most on the weirdness of the US's sympathies would go back to the beginning of the state of Israel, when the US wasn't more pro-Israel than Europe as it later became. To really discuss the issue, it's really necessary to be specific and look over the course of the history at the events in which the US supposedly acted against its interest and compare its action to other things done and to the position taken by other states. I -- again -- think this would not lead to a clear answer and could be very interesting.

For the record, I'm also not so sure that the opinion in other states is less skewed in some ways than that in the US, that it's at all what opinion would be here absent AIPAC, etc.
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  #155  
Old 12-24-2011, 01:37 PM
ledocs ledocs is offline
 
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Default Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)

Stephanie said:

Quote:
Why I don't think it's a FULL explanation for the fact that politicians basically across the board are so one-sided here. After all, the politicians you mention as ones you think would naturally have supported the Palestinians have bucked interest groups in other areas, I'm sure. AIPAC et al. really cannot be the whole explanation, or they'd either be the most powerful interest group ever or there'd be a lot less opposition to other PAC backed issues than there are. Similarly, apparently you think that the only reason I saw that attitude among the almost entirely gentile (and non Christian Zionist) folks I grew up around is because of brainwashing by the Lobby. That, to me, is nonsense. It's clear it's more complicated. Similarly, that the right machine seems to have become much more focused on Israel seems to me to suggest there's more going on that the Lobby, than politics as always.
Where I spoke of a Jewish Lobby influencing the media and politics and hence, indirectly, your gentile peers, you now speak of brainwashing. If I explicitly say that the influence of the Jewish Lobby would not have worked as it did in the absence of other cultural and historical factors that allowed it to work, you recast my position as saying that the Jewish Lobby explains everything about the attitudes of your gentile peers to Israel-Palestine. I mean, I say the Lobby is not the only reason, and then you say that I say that it is the only reason. A bit frustrating, from my point of view.

I think that the specifically Jewish Lobby is crucial to understanding the special relationship that has developed between the US and Israel. It is of crucial and critical importance. It does not explain everything. I do not think it is remotely possible to understand the US-Israel relationship without paying due attention to the Jewish Lobby's influence in electoral politics, on the federal bureaucracy, and in the media. The entire question is how much of the relationship it explains. How about 51%?

On the more general issue of our different approaches and stances to politics generally, I regard myself as an empiricist and a pragmatist, just as you regard yourself. If slamming the rich for wanting to abolish the estate tax turns out to be counter-productive, I'll abandon the slamming. But liars are liars. When someone is lying, is it demonizing them to point out that they are lying? I'm not wedded to intemperate rhetoric because it makes me feel good, although in the context of a board like this I do like to vent. In any case, I am not a politician, I am a citizen and amateur polemicist. If you think that your gently, gently, hypermoderate and sensible approach always gets the results you want, or that no other approach could produce results that are equally good or better, that's your thing. I'm not going to pretend that I know what to do in the face of the recalcitrant fact that people tend to be both selfish and stupid at least 51% of the time.

I really wish that you would try to find a Friedman quote that antedates the W&M article and that tends to demonstrate, to your mind, that Friedman was unaffected by W&M when writing his recent column about American-Israel relations.
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Last edited by ledocs; 12-24-2011 at 02:57 PM..
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  #156  
Old 12-24-2011, 03:44 PM
ledocs ledocs is offline
 
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Default Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)

Here is a prior post-W&M Friedman column on the settlements:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/02/op...ml?ref=opinion

Here is the blog post that brought me to it, care of Google:

http://mondoweiss.net/2009/08/tom-friedman-says-everyone-knows-israel-lobby-blocked-us-policy-re-settlements.html

Please do a Google search on “Thomas Friedman Israel Lobby.” The Net is now replete with reaction to Friedman’s column that labels him a long-time Israel-hater and self-hating Jew. Not just that. Just as I characterized things before the fact, Friedman is characterized as a radical leftist whose entire audience consists of radical leftist elitists. This is a guy who sells millions of books for businessmen to read in airports or on their flights. It’s absurd.

Quote:
It would be nice if Friedman is forced to pay some sort of price for finally coming out of the closet as a dyed-in-the-wool Israel hater. But he probably won’t. As he made clear in his column, he isn’t writing for the general public, but for a very small, select group of elitist leftists. These are the only people who matter to Friedman. And they matter to him because they share his opinions and his goal of indoctrinating young people to adopt his pathologically hostile views about Israel and his contempt for the American public that supports it.
http://bigpeace.com/cglick/2011/12/2...losing-battle/

Friedman has now told “The Jewish Weekly” that perhaps he should have said that the Israel Lobby “engineered” the congressional ovation for Netanyahu, not that the Lobby bought and paid for the ovation. Friedman does not ascribe to “grand conspiracy theories.”

What is the point? While Stephanie may be blasé about the recent Friedman column and its import, the Jewish Lobby is not, and I would be astonished if Friedman did not anticipate this reaction to his column. If he had said “engineered” instead of “bought and paid for,” the reaction would have been precisely the same.
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  #157  
Old 12-30-2011, 12:43 PM
stephanie stephanie is offline
 
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Default Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)

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Originally Posted by ledocs View Post
you now speak of brainwashing.
Yes, I was being immoderate, because I read your post as dismissing that we could have come to the views we did without "the Lobby." I did make sure to note that you HAD acknowledged the influence of other things.[/quote]

Quote:
If I explicitly say that the influence of the Jewish Lobby would not have worked as it did in the absence of other cultural and historical factors that allowed it to work, you recast my position as saying that the Jewish Lobby explains everything about the attitudes of your gentile peers to Israel-Palestine.
No, I didn't. I specifically stated that you'd acknowledged the importance of other things.

One frustration for me in this conversation is that I am not really sure what it is that we -- you and me -- are disagreeing about on the broader issue. I get the sense that you are attributing to me (or to Mead, who I started out defending, just solely based on my interpretation of the comments in the diavlog and the one review, neither of which struck me as offensive) views that are, of course, stupid, but which I don't hold and didn't defend, namely those in Commentary, etc. Clearly, one frustration for you is that you are interpreting me as attributing to you the views that I'm slamming (the "it's only the Jews" thing), which I'm actually not, even if I've not expressed myself well enough to make that clear. But those are the views I saw Mead as reacting to and thus was defending that reaction.

Given all this, it seems to me possible that you and I may well have similar views on the underlying matters but I read W&M and, more so, the language that Mead was reacting to (which was not W&M, but the whole "the Jewish Lobby explains the whole thing" argument) more critically and you read Mead himself and the criticism of that argument (especially the claim that it's "immoral") more critically.

We also are disagreeing on the importance of W&M vs. other events, which is perhaps why you are more positive about them and I'm more dismissive or critical of their sloppiness (as I perceive it).

To focus in on the Commentary vs. Friedman dynamic, this is clearly not something new -- it's similar to the kind of criticism Friedman (unfairly) received in response to his articles about Israel's involvement in the Lebanon War, and it demonstrates the kind of debate about Israel that has traditionally been possible, indeed on which Friedman's views represented the more mainstream view. My concern, and why I think things are changing, is that there seems to be much more demonization in the mainstream political discourse these days based on people taking the Friedman side or anything left of the Commentary side. This is because the right has whole-heartedly taken up the Commentary side in a way they hadn't previously (pre 9/11).

Indeed, as you pointed out before, traditionally Friedman would likely have been part of the W&M "Israel Lobby." Certainly Goldberg would. Yet both are critical of the same things that you have been slamming. I don't think this is because they've changed their minds, new use of "Israel Lobby" aside. Again, I think it's because the discussion in the US is moving in a disturbing direction and they are reacting to it. Thus, despite Friedman's adoption of the language, I think he has to be considered as part of the mainstream US view that is under attack by W&M et al. as the product of the Israel Lobby. When considering how much different factions of the Israel Lobby or other factors play a role in the development of this mainstream, we thus have to focus more on the kinds of arguments that Friedman makes, that Goldberg makes, that defenders of US policy generally make, and not those that defenders of Commentary positions make, as the latter are actually criticizing US policy from the right.

W&M are saying that US policy for decades has been contrary to US interests, and to understand that claim productively I think it's necessary to see how it could possibly be so. I continue to think that the argument that AIPAC had such political power that US policy makers bent to their will simply doesn't make sense, either in terms of how US foreign policy works or how lobbying works. IMO, lobbying isn't likely to make the US act in a way that seems consciously contrary to its best interest, as Glenn seemed to be suggesting. It probably is one factor among others that causes the US to weigh what is in fact in its best interest in a way that might be skewed (as did Cold War paranoia, as does our reaction to terrorism, as do a variety of other things). My view, with which you may well disagree, is that the way Glenn was framing the issue, the kinds of frames that Mead objected to, don't help get at the real problem.

Quote:
I think that the specifically Jewish Lobby is crucial to understanding the special relationship that has developed between the US and Israel.
I think it's part of it. I think I consider it less important than you do, because I think the situation as it existed in, say, 1975 or 1985 or 1990 or '95 was less problematic than you probably do. Also, I think the US's position can be explained at those times by looking at the US's perceived interests (paranoia about nationalist movements and pro Communist attitudes in the Middle East, about Iran, post hostage crisis and about Islamic fundamentalism stemming from the Iranian events, so on) and a lot of the pro Israel bias in the media explained not so directly by a lobby as a much more widely held and consistent attitude about Israel in the Jewish American community that gentiles, largely due to the Holocaust and awareness of Christian anti-semitism over time tended to be somewhat sympathetic to. I'd add to this the fact that Israel itself used PR effectively (something Friedman talks about), and, of course, that even Christians of the non-Christian-Zionist variety, who may not theologically care about Israel, will still find the names and geography resonate and thus be interested and read media stories about it in a way that few other areas outside of the US can demand. (And other factors specific to US culture.)

However, I do think the lobby (as I would define it, in a more limited way than W&M seem to) is an important factor. How important, how much it made a difference in what the US did in broad strokes, I'm less convinced of its significance than you, but as I've said about a thousand times now, I am interested in real investigation and arguments about this. I think it's irresponsible (to use a better word than Mead's) to assume that it's all about the lobby and ignore these other factors unless you can show me evidence that I haven't seen anyone even try to put together, however. W&M do not. And to be clear, this is not criticism of what you've said here, it is not at all critical of what Friedman said, which I applaud. It's criticism of the kinds of discussions that Glenn seemed to be getting into (although I think he would be very open to acknowledging these other factors) and, in particular, criticism of the kinds of discussions I think Mead was criticizing.

Quote:
It is of crucial and critical importance. It does not explain everything. I do not think it is remotely possible to understand the US-Israel relationship without paying due attention to the Jewish Lobby's influence in electoral politics, on the federal bureaucracy, and in the media. The entire question is how much of the relationship it explains. How about 51%?
Okay. Again, maybe I'd pick a lower number, but I don't have much disagreement here.

Quote:
I really wish that you would try to find a Friedman quote that antedates the W&M article and that tends to demonstrate, to your mind, that Friedman was unaffected by W&M when writing his recent column about American-Israel relations.
I might try to show some evolution in Friedman's attitudes (not a clean one, due to his reaction to 9/11), but I think you are misunderstanding me. Under my theory -- that Friedman is reacting with frustration to the greater extremity in the US dialogue (as demonstrated by the much more mainstream place of views like Ray's, especially on the right) -- it also should be a relatively recent development. I think you see that in Goldberg, where you get similar comments more recently. We are arguing about causation, not timing.

I am seeing this through a frame where I found my own views all of a sudden seeming to shift to the left in comparison with national opinion when they haven't changed. Somehow, having views that Gershom expressed on bloggingheads doesn't make you firmly pro Zionist (like analogous views did in, say, 1999). It makes you critical of Israel and gets your support questioned. Again, Obama does not have different views than Clinton, but he gets a very different reaction, and only a part of this in the US is his name, etc. The rest is a change in the US. Now, while "the lobby" may play an important role in this change -- the change that I'm really worried about -- it's a different make-up of the lobby than in the '80s, it seems to me, and it focusing on different supporters. In part because some of the traditional supporters (the traditional broad support among Jewish Americans) aren't as much fertile ground, whereas other groups (the right, Christian Zionists) are. It seems to me that the support for the current viewpoints is different than the traditional support for AIPAC (which doesn't mean that right-wing Jews aren't part of it, of course). Granted, I'm basing this too much on anecdotal evidence, so I am -- like you -- interested in evidence and people doing studies and so on.
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Old 12-30-2011, 12:55 PM
stephanie stephanie is offline
 
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Default Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)

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On the more general issue of our different approaches and stances to politics generally, I regard myself as an empiricist and a pragmatist, just as you regard yourself. If slamming the rich for wanting to abolish the estate tax turns out to be counter-productive, I'll abandon the slamming. But liars are liars. When someone is lying, is it demonizing them to point out that they are lying? I'm not wedded to intemperate rhetoric because it makes me feel good, although in the context of a board like this I do like to vent. In any case, I am not a politician, I am a citizen and amateur polemicist. If you think that your gently, gently, hypermoderate and sensible approach always gets the results you want, or that no other approach could produce results that are equally good or better, that's your thing. I'm not going to pretend that I know what to do in the face of the recalcitrant fact that people tend to be both selfish and stupid at least 51% of the time.
Heh, this is about the reaction I predicted, and I really am not certain which of us is correct. I don't know either. I'm certainly not claiming to know the most effective approach to take. I'm just sick of the right successfully portraying what is a very moderate Democratic Party (too moderate for my own, quite moderate, taste) by basically lying and claiming that the real argument is between those who hate the rich and those who don't or the like. Of course, it's entirely possible that those kinds of arguments, inaccurate as the accusation is, would be more successful in achieving liberal policies, in that the public does seem to respond more to anti-elitism and populism and just general hatred than policy-based arguments. Certainly the right has been banking on that for some time, even when it involves stirring up the masses against the very folks that their own policies most help.
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