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Thesis & Antithesis

A critical perspective on energy, international politics & current affairs

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Location: Washington, D.C.

greekdefaultwatch@gmail.com Natural gas consultant by day, blogger on the Greek economy by night. Trained as an economist and political scientist. I believe in common sense and in data, and my aim is to offer insight written in language that is clear and convincing.

23 March 2006

The Israel Lobby

John Mearsheimer (U Chicago) and Stephen Walt (Harvard KSG) just released a study on the influence of the “Israel Lobby” on American foreign policy, with the premise that the Lobby steers America to a consistent and excessive pro-Israel position. The study has caused a thunder around here, and people are already posting rebuttals to it. I was very skeptical when I first heard about it, but then again I am familiar with Mearsheimer’s academic work and he is no dupe. So I read the study.

There are several interesting points, though the authors often stretch their points, especially when they try to settle historical facts that are still much disputed, though this is understandable since their argument is to show that America’s support for Israel does not spring from as clear a set of characteristics as one would think.

But there are two points the authors bring up that deserve more discussion: first, is the level of American support for Israel justified by the national interest? Given that Israel’s survival is no longer at stake, should America support Israel the way it does? And second, does America’s support for Israel distort American policies; particularly does it make it more confrontational towards Iran and Syria (the authors also have a section on Iraq)?

I don’t know the answer to these questions, but I know that there is something to discuss there. This study is bound to be controversial, but that’s no reason to avoid the issue.

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