Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Jewish Think Tanks

Here is the latest apology for Mearsheimer & Walt, this time published in The Nation by Philip Weiss. Weiss faults the American "liberal intelligentsia" for overemphasizing the oil lobby (!), ignoring the neoconservative obsession with Zionism, stifling debate over Israel, and failing to understand the importance of political culture in Washington, by which he means Washington's reliance on think tanks. These policy-making machines USED to be dominated by the WASPs, Weiss says, but now that's changed. So the think tanks are where the Jews are REALLY asserting their influence over U.S. foreign policy!

Who knew that The Nation would ever publish an article that calls for left-wingers and liberals to ally with the likes of Francis Fukuyama! But that is precisely what Weiss does here, supporting the "realists" against the neocon "idealists." Both camps are unattractive to me politically -- the former abandoning the idea of human rights in favor of unabashed promotion of national interests, the latter cynically using the language of human rights to achieve those same interests. What worries me in general however is that we've heard very little from "realists" defending a position that the U.S. DOES have a strategic interest in supporting Israel in a post-Cold War era. It seems necessary at this point for someone other than Alan Dershowitz to come out and explain in clear and forceful terms why the U.S. has a stake in Israel's strength in the region. Its self-evidence is clearly no longer self-evident to everybody. The ideas of M&W have taken hold despite the acknowledged poverty of their article's scholarship.


Amos said...

I think the Martin Kramer article makes an excellent argument of the sort you are looking for. I also read some good stuff over on Jewlicious in response to Weiss, some of it culled from Drezner.


Noah S. said...

Kramer was good, but arguments like his need to be in the NYTimes and The Nation, not just on a personal webpage.... Instead we get Judt and Weiss.