A while back, I linked to an interview with Noam Chomsky. I never got around to noting that quite unusually, Chomsky and I appear to be in general agreement on at least one thing: Mearsheimer and Walt and their “Israel Lobby” work.
Walt and Mearsheimer are realists—what are called realists. Realists have a doctrine that says that states are the actors in international affairs and follow something called the “national interest,” which is some abstract ideal which is independent of the interests of the corporate sector. What they see from that point of view is that the United States is supposed to be pursuing its national interest, and they know what the national interest is. The fact that Intel and Lockheed Martin and Goldman Sachs don’t agree with them is irrelevant.
From their point of view, then, somehow the United States is not pursuing what they see as its national interest in the Middle East. So there must be some extraneous factor that’s driving it away from its path of innocence and perfection.
As is very clear from the paper, Mearsheimer and Walt have firmly concluded that U.S. support of Israel is CLEARLY neither strategically nor morally justified. They are sufficiently arrogant that they assume that any normal, right-thinking person who looked objectively at the evidence would agree with them. Thus, U.S. policy would naturally not be supportive of Israel. The fact that it is supportive of Israel leads the authors to a conundrum: either acknowledge that reasonable people might disagree with their conclusions (which would provide a non-conspiratorial basis U.S. support for Israel), or assume that there is a wide-ranging conspiracy involving an amorphous “Israel lobby” biasing U.S. policy in favor of Israel. Rather than suspend their arrogant view that everyone sensible agrees with them, the authors adopt the conspiracy theory (not uniquely in this respect), and engage in sloppily researched and ill-reasoned inferences to support it. The Israel lobby also explains, in their view, other anomalies that they can’t otherwise explain, like how all reasonable people failed to agree with them that the Iraq War was not in U.S. interests.
Okay, we don’t totally agree. I don’t think that Goldman Sachs and Lockheed Martin are dictating U.S. foreign policy. But our views are sufficiently in line that I am both amused, and given Chomsky’s penchant for confabulation and distortion, a bit disturbed.