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Mearsheimer & Walt - The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy (2006) - Synopsis

Mearsheimer & Walt - The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy (2006) - Synopsis

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Published by Mark K. Jensen
Synopsis of John J. Mearsheimer & Stephen M. Walt, “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy,” Working Paper RWP06-011, Harvard University (“edited and reworked version” published in the London Review of Books (March 23, 2006). Discussed at Digging Deeper (www.ufppc.org) on May 7, 2007.
Synopsis of John J. Mearsheimer & Stephen M. Walt, “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy,” Working Paper RWP06-011, Harvard University (“edited and reworked version” published in the London Review of Books (March 23, 2006). Discussed at Digging Deeper (www.ufppc.org) on May 7, 2007.

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Published by: Mark K. Jensen on Jun 02, 2009
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UFPPC (www.ufppc.org) Digging Deeper: May 7, 2007, 7:00 p.m.
 John J. Mearsheimer & Stephen M. Walt, “The Israel Lobby and U.S. ForeignPolicy,” Working Paper RWP06-011, Harvard University (“edited andreworked version” published in the
London Review of Books
(March 23,2006).
“The U.S. national interest should be theprimary object of American foreign policy.. . . however, and especially since the SixDay War in 1967, the centerpiece of U.S.Middle East policy has been itsrelationship with Israel” (1). This is “duealmost entirely to U.S. domestic politics,and especially to the activities of the‘Israel Lobby’” (1). Facts in this paper“are not serious dispute among scholars”(2).
The Great Benefactor.
Israel thelargest benefactor of U.S. economic andmilitary aid since 1976 (2). U.S. allowsIsrael to spend 25% of military assistanceon subsidizing its own defense industry,turns blind eye to nuclear weapons,offers consistent diplomatic support,rescues Israel in wartime and supports itin peace (3).
A Strategic Liability.
AIPAC claimsthere is a “unique partnership” betweenthe U.S. and Israel (3). Israel “may havebeen a strategic asset” during the ColdWar, but this should not be overstated(4). Gulf War “revealed that Israel wasbecoming a strategic burden” (4). The“shared terrorist threat” argument isweak (4-6). Israel “does not act like aloyal ally” (6-7).
A Dwindling Moral Case.
Moralarguments are “unpersuasive” (8).
Backing the Underdog?
In fact “Israelis the strongest military power in theMiddle East” (8).
Aiding a FellowDemocracy?
Israeli democracy “at oddswith core American values” because itdenies equal rights and refuses aPalestinian state (9).
Compensation forPast Crimes.
Granted that theHolocaust justified the creation of Israel,nevertheless “the creation of Israelinvolved additional crimes against alargely innocent third party: thePalestinians” (10). Expulsion of largenumbers of Arabs (10). Israel leadershave recognized this: Ben-Gurion, GoldaMeir (10-11).
“Virtuous Israelis”versus “Evil Arabs.”
Historical recordbelies this myth (11-14).
The Israel Lobby.
Given this fact, only“the unmatched power of the IsraelLobby” explains continued Americansupport (14).
What Is The Lobby?
“[A]convenient short-hand term for the loosecoalition of individuals and organizationswho actively work to shape U.S. foreignpolicy in a pro-Israel direction” (14). “Butnot all Jewish-Americans are part of theLobby” (14). Among “American Jewishleaders” there is “a strong norm againstcriticizing Israeli policy”(15). American-Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC)is “the most powerful and well-known” of “an impressive array of organizations”(15). Prominent Christian evangelicalsare a part of the Israel Lobby (15).
Sources of Power.
An “unmatchedability to play this game of interest grouppolitics” (16).
Strategies for Success.
Pressures Congress and the executivewhile seeking to ensure that publicdiscourse is pro-Israel (16-17).
Influencing Congress.
By influencingkey members and staffers and especiallythrough AIPAC, “Israel is virtually immunefrom criticism” in the U.S. Congress (17-18). AIPAC, which is a
de facto
agent fora foreign government, has a strangleholdon the U.S. Congress” (18).
Influencingthe Executive.
Due in part to influenceon presidential elections throughcampaign contributions (60% of moneyfor Democratic presidential candidatesacc. to
Washington Post 
estimate) (18).
 
Pressure (18-19). Key individuals likeMartin Indyk, Dennis Ross, Aaron Miller inthe Clinton administrations and ElliotAbrams, John Bolton, Douglas Feith, I.Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Richard Perle, PaulWolfowitz, David Wurmser in the G.W.Bush administration (19-20).
Manipulating the Media.
MostAmerican commentators are pro-Israel(20). Editorials of major newspapers(20). Editorial bias (20-21). Letter-writing campaigns (21).
Think TanksThat Think One Way.
“Pro-Israel forcespredominate in U.S. think tanks” andhave think tanks of their own(Washington Institute for Near East Policy[WINEP]) (21-22).
Policing Academia.
“Lobby has had the most difficulty stiflingdebate about Israel on collegecampuses(22). To “police academia”has been the object of a campaign (22-23) Many Israel studies programs havebeen founded (23-24).
The GreatSilencer.
Use of the charge of anti-Semitism (24). Exaggeration of European (especially French) anti-Semitism (24-25). The claim that anti-Israel views constitute a “new anti-Semitism” is a rhetorical ploy (25-26).
The Tail Wagging the Dog.
The Lobby“has worked successfully to convinceAmerican leaders to back Israel’scontinued repression of the Palestiniansand to take aim at Israel’s primaryregional adversaries: Iran, Iraq, andSyria” (26).
Demonizing thePalestinians.
Bush administration’sfailure to in 2001-2002 to halt Israel’sexpansionist policies in the occupiedterritories (26-29). Little change sincethen (29-30).
Israel and the Iraq War.
“Pressure from Israel and the Lobby” a“critical element” in the U.S. decision toattack Iraq in March 2003” (30).Intelligence; Israeli leaders (31).
TheLobby and the Iraq War.
In the U.S.“the main driving force behind the Iraqwar was a small band of neoconservatives, many with close tiesto Israel’s Likud Party” (31). Broader Jewish community thought differently(31-32). Neoconservatives determined totopple Saddam Hussein before Bushbecame president (32). Influence on theBush administration was great, but fullstory not yet available (32-35).
Dreamsof Regional Transformation.
Iraq wassupposed to be the first step “in a largerplan to reorder the Middle East” (35). The “Clean Break” study [1996] urging abreak with the policy of “doublecontainment” was written byneoconservatives for Israeli PMNetanyahu (35-36).
Gunning for Syria.
Pressure from Israeli leaders and Lobbyto target Syria followed the fall of Baghdad (37-38). Bush administrationresisted (38).
Putting Iran in theCrosshairs.
Iran regarded as mostimportant enemy because it is theadversary most likely to acquire nuclearweapons (38). Sharon began pressure in2002 (39). Neoconservatives make casein 2003 (39). Effort to shut down Iran’snuclear program is U.S.’s response to theLobby’s pressure (39).
Summary.
Lobby’s efforts put Israel in win-winsituation: even if regional transformationfails, Israel “still ends up protected by theworld’s only superpower” (40).
Conclusion.
There are “ample groundsfor U.S. leaders to distance themselvesfrom the Lobby” (40). But given Lobby’seffectiveness, this “is not going tohappen anytime soon” (40). This is“worrisome” because it increase theU.S.’s danger from terrorism (41). Attackon Syria or Iran would have “potentiallydisastrous effects” (41). There are alsomoral reasons to have the U.S. cease tobe “complicit in the crimes perpetratedagainst the Palestinians” (41). Thesquelching of debate is unhealthy forAmerican democracy (41). The IsraelLobby’s influence has been “bad forIsrael” (41). But there is hope, since“reality cannot be ignored forever” (42).Call for “a candid discussion of theLobby’s influence and a more open

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