Monday, August 13, 2007

The Lobby in Perspective

Walt and Mearsheimer's book on the Israel lobby is due out soon, so the usual suspects are starting to rev up the suppression campaign once again.

Meanwhile, in anticipation of the book's release, Mitchell Plitnick and Chris Toensing have written a useful article that contextualizes and critiques the now notorious essay from the two famed "realists."

"The essential flaw in the Mearsheimer-Walt argument is not, as many critics have said, the authors’ exaggeration of the pro-Israel lobby’s power," Plitnick and Toensing write. "It is not even their inattention to the other factors that have historically defined the US interest in the Middle East for the bipartisan foreign policy establishment. Rather, the most serious fault lies in the professors' conclusion—soothing in this day and age—that US Middle East policy would become 'more temperate' were the influence of the Israel lobby to be curtailed. This conclusion is undercut by the remarkable continuities in US Middle East policy since the Truman administration, including in times when the pro-Israel lobby was weak. And other factors—chiefly the drive for hegemony in the Persian Gulf—have also embroiled the US in plenty of trouble."