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Old 11-28-2011, 07:42 AM
ledocs ledocs is offline
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: France, Earth
Posts: 1,165
Default Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)

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

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


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

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

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

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

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