Thursday, April 06, 2006

Open up

Paul Woodward again offers some cogent remarks on the Israel lobby debate, which has caught spark in some marginalized corners. Still, he says that the opinions voiced thus far have failed to take into account

serious consideration of the lobby's influence, not in determining American foreign policy, but in shaping and controlling political debate. Those who, while not supporting the lobby's agenda, nevertheless play down its influence on policy are also thereby shifting attention away from what I would argue is the lobby's greatest and most insidious influence: its impact on American political discourse. It seems that those willing to discuss the lobby's influence also want to present themselves as being impervious to that influence. Anyone who identifies themselves as an authoratative participant in mainstream discourse, can't acknowledge that that discourse is being contrained by the lobby without either ejecting themselves from the mainstream or otherwise undermining their own integrity.
I concur with this; it's sort of what I was alluding to yesterday at the end of my post.

As I've already suggested, I don't see the Israel lobby's development over ~40 years as being a primary factor why the US decided to throw its support behind Israel.

I do think, however, that you can make a strong argument that the Israel lobby's primary function today -- and its most important one, when considering US policy for the forseeable future -- is to prevent any serious discussion of the US-Israel relationship that takes into account strategic considerations or moral ones, particularly as they relate to the human welfare and national aspirations of the Palestinians.

In that sense, the response to the Walt/Mearsheimer paper has proceeded in accord with what you'd expect: smears and various dismissals that tend to squash discussion rather than open it up.

Naturally, the wingnut-o-sphere won't touch this issue with a ten foot pole, unless they're lobbing spitballs of "anti-Semitism" at critics. It'd be nice, though, for some of the big liberal blogs to weigh in on this, substantially, by taking some time out from trying to elect Democratic congressional reps and flogging the old horses of media bias/conservative chicanery.