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Edward P. Joseph
Edward P. Joseph is a leading commentator on international affairs. His articles have been published in Foreign Affairs, the New York Times and the Washington Post. He is co-author, with Michael O’Hanlon, of the June 2007 Brookings-Saban Center paper, The Case
for Soft Partition in Iraq.
The Open Society and Its Critics: Minorities and Political Lobbying in the United States
By Edward P. Joseph February 2008
Joseph’s work has frequently taken him to the Middle East. In 2002, he visited Israel and the Palestinian territories at the height of the Palestinian intifada. Also, he served in Baghdad during 2004 as Coordinator of the US government’s main democracy assistance program to the interim Iraqi Government. Joseph is Visiting Scholar and Professorial Lecturer at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC.
Z Word is an online journal focusing on the contemporary debate over Zionism, anti-Zionism, anti-Semitism and related areas. Editorially independent, Z Word identifies and challenges anti-Zionist orthodoxies in mainstream political exchange. Z Word is supported by the American Jewish Committee. To learn more about Z Word, visit us online at: www.z-word.com or contact the editors at: email@example.com
Rough and Tumble: American politics may not be for the fainthearted, but anyone is welcome
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Mohsin Hamid is an unlikely point of entry into the flawed assumptions of John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt1. After all, Hamid, a British citizen born in Pakistan, is the author of an acclaimed novel, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, which tells the story of a Pakistani domiciled in the United States who becomes so disillusioned in the aftermath of the 9/11 atrocities that he returns to Pakistan. Yet Hamid, in an October 2007 interview with the New York Times, nailed down a crucial facet of America that Mearsheimer and Walt, and their many admirers in Europe, have ignored. “Americans,” Hamid said, “are more inclined to think (whether you are a Muslim or not) if you speak with an American accent, you’re an American. In Europe, it’s more a question of tribe. In Europe you can be a second- or third-generation TurkishGerman, and there is still a question of whether you are European.”2
This relative openness on the part of the United States helps explain why American Muslims feel so much more integrated, less alienated and more engaged as citizens than their European counterparts. As a direct consequence, minorities in America have fewer qualms about turning to the political process in order to achieve their goals—even when it comes to delicate matters like defining what counts as the “national interest” in foreign policy. American Exceptionalism Hamid’s observation about the difference in Muslim attitudes on either side of the Atlantic is backed up by comprehensive public opinion research. In a groundbreaking May 2007 survey, Pew Research found that Muslim Americans are “assimilated, happy with their lives, and moderate with respect to many of the issues that have divided Muslims and Westerners around the world…. [Muslim Americans] are decidedly American in their outlook, values, and attitudes.”3 These attitudes in America “stand in contrast with those of Muslim minorities of Western Europe [based on] Pew Global Attitudes surveys conducted in 2006 in Great Britain, France, Germany and Spain…. Nearly half of Muslims in the U.S. (47%) say they think of themselves first as a Muslim, rather than as an American. But far more Muslims in three of the four Western European nations surveyed said they considered themselves first as Muslims, rather than citizens of their countries.”4 Remarkably, on the decisive issue of Israel, Pew found that “Muslim Americans are far more likely than Muslims in the Middle East and elsewhere to say that a way can be found for the state of Israel to exist so that the rights of the Palestinians are addressed. In this regard, the views of Muslim Americans resemble those of the general public in the United States” (emphasis added.).5 Put together, the views of Hamid and his fellow Muslims in America mean that something is seriously awry. They are apparently rather satisfied in a country that Mearsheimer and Walt insist is in the grips of “The Israel Lobby”—a lobby whose impact, they maintain, has gravely worsened America’s standing among Muslims inside and outside the Islamic world. In Europe in particular, Mearsheimer and Walt have been hailed6 for their “courage” in standing up against the perceived taboo of discussing Jewish influence on US foreign policy.7 Yet few voices in Europe or the US have
noted this glaring paradox: how can it be that in America, where foreign policy has supposedly been hijacked by groups pushing Israel’s interests over all others, Muslim citizens have far more affinity with their adopted country than do their counterparts in Europe? Indeed, how can it be that Muslim Americans have such affinity with their fellow Americans—including on the signature topic of Israel—than their alienated counterparts in Europe, where foreign policy has traditionally been much more oriented towards the Arab side in the conflict? Engaging in the Political Process One British academic, Christopher Hill of Cambridge University, has gamely tried to tackle the subject. Hill’s article “Bringing War Home,” in the September 2007 issue of International Relations, examines how foreign policy and Muslim attitudes intersect in the UK, the US and France. Hill acknowledges “generalized Muslim alienation” in the UK and links this to British foreign policy which, despite being more “balanced” on the Palestinian issue, has followed the US into Iraq and Afghanistan.8 What Hill cannot explain is why America’s decidedly pro-Israel foreign policy does not alienate its own Muslim communities. Hill’s view of America, common to many European intellectuals, is one in which Jewish influence not only dominates the power structure, but intimidates the Muslim and Arab American polities. In a passage redolent of European misconceptions about the US, Hill asserts— without support—that “(A)ny Arab, Iranian or other form of Islamic group [in the US] which does not accept the parameters of the neo-conservative orthodoxy will not only not get a hearing, but it is likely to be the focus of suspicion.”9 This caricature of an invisible, intimidated Arab community stacked against an omnipotent, insidious Israel lobby is similar to that purveyed by Mearsheimer and Walt. On the one hand, Mearsheimer and Walt “repeatedly emphasize” that “lobbying on Israel’s behalf is wholly legitimate” and is “simply part of the normal rough-andtumble that is the essence of democratic politics.” On the other hand, they lament the “illegitimate extremes” that “some (emphasis added) pro-Israel groups” have taken, for example, attempting to silence individuals “who hold views they dislike” and intimidating and smearing critics. In the same paragraph, however, this “some” morphs back into the Israel lobby as a whole. The authors conclude
The Open Society and Its Critics: Minorities and Political Lobbying in the United States 2
that “the lobby” (not “some” exceptional elements within the lobby) uses “strong arm tactics” and other methods that “have no place in a democratic society” effectively shutting out Arab voices and their sympathizers.10 In this rough and tumble of democratic politics in the US, dissenting, pro-Arab viewpoints are nowhere to be found, according to Mearsheimer and Walt. Indeed, they put the term, “Arab lobby” in quotes (unlike the Israel Lobby, which is emblazoned as the title of their book), suggesting it does not even exist. They dismiss significant defeats for Israel in the American arena, notably the Reagan Administration’s 1982 sale of AWACS aircraft to Saudi Arabia, as having no import or consequence. Their explanation for the weakness of “the Arab lobby” is that, unlike the Israel lobby—which does not require
“...Muslim and Arab-American groupings bear a significant resemblance in diversity to the Jewish organizations which comprise the core of Mearsheimer and Walt’s ‘Israel Lobby’”
quotation marks—it lacks “an indigenous base of support in the United States.” Arab states like Saudi Arabia, unlike Israel, “must hire foreign agents to do their bidding. Their support is not rooted in American soil.”11 Another harsh critic of the “Zionist lobby,” Janice J. Terry, takes a different view. Terry is as frustrated as Mearsheimer and Walt with the outsized influence of Israel’s supporters, yet she acknowledges that there is a cast of pro-Arab lobbyists and interest groups that are also active in advancing an alternative viewpoint. Unlike Mearsheimer and Walt, Terry believes that the weakness of Arab interest groups doesn’t stem from the fact that they are not grounded in the US, but rather that they are “small and under-financed” and “plagued by divisiveness.”12 Terry goes into impressive detail into the origins and composition of various pro-Arab and pro-Israel groups, lamenting the weakness of the former and the strength of the latter, but not hesitating to confirm that Arab Americans do have a voice in the United States. Whatever the explanation for the relative ineffectiveness of a counterweight lobby to Israel’s supporters in
the US, it is noteworthy that this has not translated into the scenes of Muslim rage and alienation increasingly common in Europe. The Pew survey states, “overwhelmingly, Muslim Americans believe that hard work pays off in this society.”13 And that hard work, Muslims seem to acknowledge, extends to lobbying as well. Rather than whine about the the Israel lobby, noted Muslim authors and organizers Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and Daisy Khan argue that “[we] American Muslims need to face up to some tough challenges. First, we need to establish credibility by making clear our concerns over U.S. foreign policy and its impact on Muslims around the world.”14 Similarly, Fawaz A. Gerges of Sarah Lawrence University asserts calmly that “it has taken the Israeli lobby half a century to arrive at this historical juncture. It will likely take the Muslim community as long, if and when the community decides to organize itself politically and institutionally. The key word is institutional building, which is in its infancy.” 15 Like Abdul Rauf and Khan, Gerges believes that community mobilization, not bitterness and retreat, is the way forward. All the indications are that Muslim Americans have heeded this advice. It might even be said, when it comes to both the profusion of groups and the range of political and religious views held, that the Muslim and Arab American groupings bear a significant resemblance in diversity to the Jewish organizations which comprise the core of Mearsheimer and Walt’s “Israel Lobby.” Perhaps the most vocal Muslim American organization is the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)—often criticized for what its detractors charge is a sympathetic attitude towards Hamas and Hezbollah16 — but it is not the only one. Nor is there a standard set of issues which all Muslim American organizations work on. For example, the American Islamic Congress (AIC), led by an Iraqi woman, Zainab al Suwaiji17, emphasizes the importance of Muslim Americans leading the charge against anti-American sentiment in the Islamic world. Yet all these groups, whether progressive or conservative, proudly engage in the political process. Indeed, CAIR’s endorsement of Mearsheimer and Walt sits awkwardly with the impressive roster of elected officials on its own website, beginning with President Bush, who have spoken warmly of the Muslim contribution to America. CAIR’s website provides prominent, thorough instructions on how members should engage Congress, register voters, contact the media and advance issues. Contrary to
The Open Society and Its Critics: Minorities and Political Lobbying in the United States 3
the message from Israel lobby critics (that pro-Arab and Muslim groups are dejected and demoralized against the titanic power of Israel’s friends), the dominant message, shared by other groups like the AIC, stresses empowerment, not impotence. The theme is clearly to encourage American Muslims to speak out, not fulminate at being shut out. In that sense, European supporters of Mearsheimer and Walt would do well to study how the American systems’ openness works for the cause of integration of diverse groups. Yossi Shain, an academic at Georgetown University, argues with prodigious evidence that, precisely through political participation and lobbying, Muslims in America trade European-style isolation for American-style integration and respect for democratic values. Shain cites examples such as the 1994 election of Spencer Abraham, an Arab American, to the United States Senate as pulling even devout Muslims into group-oriented political activism.18 Like Jews, Armenians and other ethnic lobbies, Arab Americans, many of whom are Christian, generally advance their cause in the name of the national interest and in the vocabulary of democratic values, further reinforcing the compatibility of both group identity and affinity as Americans.19 An article written during the riots in rundown, largely Muslim suburbs in France in the fall of 2005, by Niraj Warikoo of the Detroit Free Press, suggests that Yossi Shain’s thesis has its adherents among Arab Americans as well. Warikoo chronicled the stark contrast in Araband Muslim-American attitudes in Michigan. One immigrant, Ahmed Hammoud, told Warikoo that despite graduating from a top university, “in France, you’re never considered French if you’re of Arab descent. It’s easier here [in America], people are more open.”20 Hammoud linked this openness to the ability to organize on political issues, helping found Dearborn’s Arab American Political Action Committee. At a crowded event to mobilize the community to support selected candidates, a Palestinian American, Nasser Abunab, was moved to declare, “this is an example of how open America is, we don’t sweep things under the rug like Europeans.” This freedom—and societal encouragement—to assemble is central to America’s superior ability to integrate Muslim communities at time of fear over Islamist terrorism. Both Europe and America frequently struggle when Muslims wish to build a neighborhood mosque. But as The Economist observed, “[America’s approach] is fairer to Muslims…Although America has plenty of Islam-
bashers ready to play on people’s fears, it offers better protection to the mosque builders [than Europe does.] In particular, its constitution, legal system and political culture all generally take the side of religious liberty.”21 Anyone Can Do It It is no coincidence that a system that favors religious freedom also is open to ethno-religious communities that mobilize. Tony Smith, another fierce Israel lobby critic, acknowledges that “it is the structure of American democracy that allows ethnic communities … access to policy-making.”22 Smith adds that “the chief feature of American politics is that relative to other democracies … the American state is comparatively lacking in autonomy because it is highly penetrated by interest groups that are capable of making their agenda that of the government.” In fact, these limits on state and executive power had their origin in part on religious grounds. Far from requiring enormous finances and resources, the American system—founded on circumscribing the role of the state— is distinctively receptive, particularly in Congress, to the demands of citizens and groups.” Though many “believe that it takes hundreds of thousands of people to influence foreign policy,” Janice Terry states that, “only 5,000 to 10,000 committed activists can have a substantial impact.” There are vivid examples ripped from the headlines of small ethnic lobbying groups wielding substantial influence. On 10 October 2007, Armenian Americans, who number but 1.5 million (in other words, barely half-a-percent) of the US population, convinced the House International Relations Committee to pass a resolution recognizing the genocide of Armenians by Ottoman Turkey. On 14 October, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, defying appeals from the Administration, vowed to take the measure to the floor of the House for a full vote.23 By the own accounts of senior members of the Armenian American community, this tiny group managed to pull off a substantial Congressional foreign policy victory not through money, but through sheer persistence and group cohesion.24 Despite substantial internal differences in policy on other issues (mirroring the wide disparity of views within the Jewish American, Arab American and Muslim American communities), Armenians are united in their demand that their shared national tragedy be recognized (again, mirroring Jewish cohesiveness on issues related to the Holocaust.)
The Open Society and Its Critics: Minorities and Political Lobbying in the United States 4
Focused, persistent and organized, the Armenians prevailed at a time when many in the Administration were seized of the resolution’s potential to aggravate Turkey. After the victory in committee, the Turkish lobby swung into action, helped by a consortium of Turkish officials and Turkish-American organizations aided by a former Congressman.25 As the message from the Turkish lobby intensified, and as tensions mounted in Turkey and neighboring Iraqi Kurdistan, the Armenian genocide resolution was shelved. Indeed, Turkish experts now state that following its initial fury at the US over the Committee resolution on genocide, Ankara sees the fact that the resolution has stalled as an “amicable gesture.”26 The Armenian-Turkish tussle suggests that the solution to “factions” proposed by James Madison—competition - is indeed the remedy to the age-old anxiety that democracy will be hijacked by particular interests. It is also a reminder that the Executive, which steadfastly opposed the Armenian cause, is far less vulnerable to ethnic lobbying than is Congress. Rather than fostering traditional stereotypes about Jewish power, those who want to see a change in US foreign policy in the Middle East should follow the Armenian example and do the hard work of making their case. One group which happens to consist of mainly Muslims, and which has embraced this lesson, is the Kurdish community. Many Kurdish Americans recently demonstrated in several US cities including Washington on the eve of a crucial meeting between President Bush and Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan. Unlike their counterparts in Europe (be they Turkish or Kurdish), these Muslim Kurds see their participation in the lobbying process as part of their American identity. One demonstrator justified the action precisely through her American identity, stating proudly to a reporter, “we are Kurds, yes—but we are also Kurdish Americans!”27
Huntington has warned that ethnic demands subordinate the “national interest” to foreign interests.29 Israel lobby critic Tony Smith worries that ethnic lobbies contribute to the “Balkanization of the United States” while damaging “the national interest” by fostering an “incoherent foreign policy.”30 Concerns about the ability of ethnic groups to
“(Mearsheimer and Walt’s) conceit is that an amorphous foreign policy elite, presumably white and non-ethnic, knows better than do minority groups what the true national interest is”
influence foreign policy go back to the era of Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. Mearsheimer and Walt reflect this tradition; their true preoccupation is a system that permits a highly organized minority, be it Jewish or Armenian or other, to subvert the “true” national interest. Of course, none of these prominent academics answers the eternal question: just who gets to determine “the national interest,” if not competing ethnic groups and power centers? Just as Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart famously said about obscenity, these academic gray beards apparently know the national interest when they see it. And they know with certainty that US “unconditional” support for Israel isn’t in the national interest.31 Instead of fostering a reasonable debate about how to balance particular ethnic interests with wider interests, Mearsheimer, Walt, Huntington and Smith would like to restrict debate. Their conceit is that an amorphous foreign policy elite, presumably white and non-ethnic, knows better than do minority groups what the true national interest is. In fact, their perspective is just as parochial as those of the minority groups, most obviously American Jews, whose influence The National Interest: Who Decides they assail. It isn’t “the national interest” that is at stake when the “Israel lobby” or “the Armenian lobby” rises to Palestinian sympathizers who cheer Mearsheimer and Walt’s depiction of the Israel lobby as, effectively, a subver- grab the ear—and voice—of the country; rather, it is their sive movement, are missing the core irony of their message. conception of the national interest that is put in jeopardy. Those who believe passionately in support for Taiwan, While the authors have trained their eyes on Israel and Kosovo, or indeed even Palestine should take care before its supporters their book has direct implications for any minority influence over “the national interest.” It is no coin- embracing the hidden elitism of Mearsheimer, Walt or others in the anti-Israel lobby.32 Today, their main preoccupacidence that Mearsheimer and Walt offer effusive praise in their introduction to the eminent political scientist, Samuel tion is policy on Israel, tomorrow it could be any other interHuntington.28 Assailing the advent of multiculturalism, est of particular concern to a mobilized group, exercising its
The Open Society and Its Critics: Minorities and Political Lobbying in the United States 5
Middle East is dangerously skewed towards Israel need to learn how to make their case—on the merits—not through stigmatizing Israel’s sympathizers. Rather than disparage the American system, which permits the “Israel lobby” and other ethnic lobbies to operate, Europeans more than anyone need to study how the American system’s openness works for the integration of diverse groups. For as long “Rather than disparage the American as America remains open to ethnic lobbying that reflects system...Europeans more than anyone American values—and does not reward the decidedly un-American stigmatization espoused by Mearsheimer and need to study how the American system’s openness works for the integration of diverse Walt—Jews, Muslims and the national interest all benefit. Finally, pro-Israel groups benefit as well from embracgroups” ing America’s openness to a diversity of viewpoints and influences, including those that differ on Israel-Palestine policy. The small minority who might be tempted themWhat’s more, at a time when integration of Muslim populations is at a premium for national security, it is most selves to resort to the “smear tactics” that Mearsheimer certainly against the national interest. If America is to avoid and Walt allege should reflect carefully. There is no reason to emulate these authors, whose tract amounts to an not just another 9/11, but the 7/7 experienced in the United indictment of an ethno-religious group and its supporters. Kingdom (terrorist attacks produced by homegrown, Speaking out on behalf of one’s issues, without stereotypdisaffected and alienated Islamists), it needs to embrace, not oppose, its openness to citizen influence from Muslims ing or stigmatizing the other side, is part of what makes America so great—and Mearsheimer and Walt so wrong. and others. Those worried that American policy on the “legitimate rights” but working against “the national interest.” The broader message from these Israel lobby critics is that foreign policy in American democracy is too important to be left to the people’s various ethnic lobbies. And that is a position that is both undemocratic and un-American.
The Open Society and Its Critics: Minorities and Political Lobbying in the United States 6
Mearsheimer, John J. and Walt, Stephen M., The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, New York: 2007 Perlez, Jane. “A Pakistan-American Voice in Search of a True Home.” New York Times, 13 October 2007, A4. Pew Research Center. “Muslim Americans: Middle Class and Mostly Mainstream.” 22 May, 2007, p. 1. Ibid, p. 3. Ibid. See, for example, Philippe Grangrereau, “Le lobby israélien au cœur de la polémique aux Etats-Unis,” Liberation, 4 October 2007, and Geoffrey Wheatcroft, “Costs and Benefits,” The Guardian, 29 September 2007 7 Mearsheimer and Walt state repeatedly that the Israel Lobby comprises far more than Jews, for example, evangelical Christians who are strong Israel supporters. However, the “taboo” which Mearsheimer and Walt have “broken” only makes sense in connection to Jews who, they note, have historically been vilified as manipulating and maintaining power through a “cabal.” 8 “In a survey of more than 450 Muslim students … after the July 2005 bombings 62 per cent said that British foreign policy had played a ‘major’ or ‘complete’ part in leading to the attacks. More than a quarter said they felt a conflict between their loyalty to the UK and their loyalty to the umma.” Hill, Christopher. “Bringing War Home.” International Relations. 21 (3): October, 2007, p. 275. See also p. 266: “Despite the higher levels of suspicion and misunderstanding [in the US], there have been relatively few intercommunal problems. Muslims have suffered disproportionately from the heightened security concerns after 9/11, but there have been no cases of pogroms or riots of the kind which have disfigured relations between blacks and whites … or which have occurred between Muslim and white youths in some British towns.” 9 Hill, p. 271. 10 The Israel Lobby, p. 185. 11 The Israel Lobby, p. 144. 12 Terry, Janice J. US Foreign Policy in the Middle East: The Role of Lobbies and Special Interest Groups, Pluto Press, Ann Arbor, MI:2005, p. 62. Despite the far less salacious title of her book, Terry is just as tendentious as Mearsheimer and Walt. She invokes the term “Zionist lobby” as an epithet, and apparently blames US policy on the Palestinian issue alone as responsible for the attacks of 9/11. See Terry, p. 54. Terry appears regretful that Arab states have not been more effective in “making the US pay” for its policies in response to the Arab boycott of Israel. See Terry, p. 124. 13 Pew Research Center. “Muslim Americans: Middle Class and Mostly Mainstream.” 22 May, 2007, p. 1. 14 Abdul Rauf, Imam Feisal and Khan, Daisy. “The Ideals We Share,” Newsweek, 30 July, 2007, p. 33. 15 Gainem, Alexander. “Is there a Muslim Lobby in the US?” IslamOnLine.net. 26 May, 2006. http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&cid= 1156077817990&pagename=Zone-English-Muslim_Affairs%2FMAELayout 16 Daniel Pipes has labeled CAIR a “friend of terror.” Pipes, Daniel. “CAIR: ‘Moderate” Friend of Terror.” New York Post, 22 April, 2002. http://www. danielpipes.org/article/394 17 See http://www.aicongress.org/ 18 Shain, Yossi. Marketing the American Creed Abroad: Diasporas in the US and their Homelands. P. 108. Shain notes that Islam presents a particular challenge for integration in that its traditions, founded on Muhammed’s Hijra (flight from Mecca to Medina), reject in principle the notion of Muslims building a minority life in a non-Islamic country. How does one live as a believer and preserve the faith under Western democracies where, as Shain quotes Amer Haleen of the Islamic Society of North America, the “system [was] organized by design to elevate the will of man above the will of God?” Id. p. 109. 19 National Association of Arab Americans (NAAA) described their organization’s goals as follows: “Arab Americans are deeply proud of their culture and heritage. They seek to promote the closest possible relations between the United States and the Arab World. … They are American first, last, and always.” Id. p. 115. Even Mearsheimer and Walt acknowledge that the “Israel lobby” makes its case in the name of the national interest. 20 Warikoo, Niraj. “Metro Arabs Don’t Feel France’s Alienation, Discrimination Here.” Detroit Free Press, 28 November, 2005. http://www.euro-islam.info/ spip/article.php3?id_article=803 21 “Islam, the American way: Why the United States is fairer to Muslims than ‘Eurabia’ is.” The Economist, 30 August, 2007. http://www.economist.com/ opinion/PrinterFriendly.cfm?story_id=9724266 22 Smith, Tony. Foreign Attachments. P. 86. 23 Nancy Pelosi, appearing live on ABC News “This Week,” 14 October, 2007. 24 Telephone interview with Van Krikorian, past president and continuing board member, Armenian Assembly of America, 18 October 2007. 25 See Thompson, Marilyn W. “An Ex-Leader in Congress is Now Turkey’s Man in the Lobbies of Capitol Hill,” New York Times, 17 October, 2007. http://www. nytimes.com/2007/10/17/washington/17lobby.html?_r=1&oref=slogin 26 Soner Cagaptay, Turkish research program director, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy speaking on The Diane Rehm Show, 23 October 2007. 27 Report on National Public Radio, “Morning Edition,” 4 November, 2007. 28 Mearsheimer and Walt, Preface, pp. xi-xii. 29 Huntington, Samuel P. “The Erosion of American National Interests,” Foreign Affairs 76:5 19997, p. 33, cited in Smith, Tony, Foreign Attachments, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 2000, pp. 44-45. 30 Smith worries that the Madisonian solution of competing factions will lead to an “incoherent foreign policy” that is not in “the national interest.” He does not specify who, if not competing ethnic groups and power centers, is to determine “the national interest.” 31 Mearsheimer and Walt make an elaborate case for the proposition that US support for Israel is not in the national interest. But rather than proffer the argument as, like any other proposition, subject to fair-minded debate, the authors treat it as self-evident. Because it cannot be questioned that US support for Israel is mistaken, therefore the only explanation for this anomaly is that an ethnic lobby has seized the national interest. 32 In a vivid example of the conceit and realist bias of ethnic lobby critics, Tony Smith issues this alarm: “And even now some groups in Taipei are working with Taiwanese Americans to get U.S. support to make the island independent of China….” The Open Society and Its Critics: Minorities and Political Lobbying in the United States 7
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